Choosing a university can be difficult for a range of reasons. Students must consider cost, location, and their educational needs before committing to a single school. However, for those who know what they want to study, choosing a school often comes down to notable alumni.
In some cases, certain schools are the undisputed authority on topics. For example, Duke University and the University of Hawaii are both known for their marine biology programmes. A student with an interest in quantum mechanics, on the other hand, is more likely to head to Stanford University or the University of Bristol, which both have leading quantum programmes.
Not all professions are quite so straightforward when it comes to nailing down a suitable university. Some schools seem to unintentionally turn out industry professionals who radically change or improve their respective fields.
Let’s take a look at five unexpected universities that have turned out a new generation of specialised pros.
Warwick University: Poker Pros
Though legend Doyle Brunson attended Hardin-Simmons University and Phill Hellmuth went to the University of Wisconsin, six next-gen pros have all attended an online university: Warwick University. Based in Coventry, England, the school has produced numerous pros from its online courses alone.
Unsurprisingly, Warwick U is also home to the UK’s largest poker society, the Warwick Poker Society. Over fifty players gather each week, which culminates in an annual Student Poker Championship event. With multiple faculties, which include psychology, future pros have plenty of tools to help develop their skills during their education.
Though many have dreamed of becoming an astronaut, only about six hundred people around the world have ever become professional space travellers. Even fewer have walked on the moon. With its NASA program, the US has deputized hundreds of astronauts since first putting a man on the moon in 1969.
54 of these astronauts have graduated from the United States Naval Academy. Beginning with Alan Shepard Jr. (class of 1945) and ending with Kayla Barron (class of 2010), the Naval Academy’s strict code of conduct and educational standards have paired well with NASA’s challenging demands.
University of Cambridge: Actors
Cambridge University is famous for fostering some of the most notable studies in the UK, as well as some of the greatest minds of the modern era, from Stephen Hawking to David Attenborough. Its list of notable alumni extends on and on, but people may not realise how many influential actors have attended the university.
Emma Thompson and Ian McKellen are some of the most celebrated actors to have graduated. They’re joined by Rachel Weisz, who went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree from the university in 1988, alongside the comedian-satirist Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat fame.
Harvard University: Billionaires
Being a billionaire isn’t a profession, but a title. And with over 2,000 people around the world worth over $1 billion today, it’s a decreasingly significant title. However, it’s still interesting to note that a striking total of 29 of these people graduated from Harvard University. They’re joined by other big-name US universities, such as MIT and the University of Pennsylvania.
Of these 29 mega-wealthy alumni (who own part of the total $2.9 trillion in the hands of the world’s billionaires), 17 went on to work in finance. One is a Brazilian investment banker, Jorge Paulo Lemann. On the other hand, some alumni, like Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, made their fortune on innovative technological advancements.
New York University: Comedians
NYU alumni regularly make notable contributions to the world of pop culture from the Tisch School of the Arts, with a long list of entertaining alumni including Lady Gaga, Alec Baldwin and Alexis Bledel.
Unsurprisingly, NYU has also produced some of the most famous US comedians in recent decades. Many have chosen to frame their careers based on their time at NYU, including Aziz Ansari’s Master of None and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City (co-created with Abbi Jacobson). Other notable comedians include Mike Birbiglia, Paul Scheer, and Whoopi Goldberg.
Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.