The 41 Country Artists Who Were College Bound

ADULTING: Photos of the Early Post-College Years

For a lot of country music hopefuls, college isn’t always the smartest option. So plenty of them opted out of the standard-issue, four-year degree and headed straight to Nashville. But some of them actually gave it the old college try. And some of them finished. Some with honors. (We’re looking at you, Carrie Underwood.) Either way, they all turned out just fine and landed in Tennessee right when the music needed them most.

Since we are on the verge of back-to-school season, we did some homework to find out who went where.

1. Luke Bryan
Georgia Southern University
Graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing
Sigma Chi

2. Maren Morris
University of North Texas in Denton
Left before graduation

3. Luke Combs
Appalachian State University
Left before graduation

4. Carrie Underwood
Northeastern State University in Oklahoma
Graduated magna cum laude in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism

5. Brad Paisley
West Liberty State College and Belmont University
Graduated in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in business

6. Ashley McBryde
Arkansas State University
Left before graduation

7. Sam Hunt
Middle Tennessee State University and University of Alabama
Graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in economics

8. Dixie Chicks’ Martie Maguire
Southwestern University in Texas
Left before graduation

9. Cole Swindell
Georgia Southern University
Graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing
Sigma Chi

10. Eric Church
Appalachian State University
Graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in business

11. Faith Hill
Hinds Junior College in Mississippi
Left before graduation

12. Tim McGraw
Northeast Louisiana University on a baseball scholarship
Left before graduation
Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity

13. George Strait
Texas State University
Graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture

14. Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines
West Texas A&M, South Plains College and Berklee College of Music
Left before graduation

15. Lee Brice
Clemson University
Left before graduation

16. Karen Fairchild
Samford University in Alabama
Graduated with a bachelor’s degree

17: Kimberly Schlapman
Samford University in Alabama and University of Tennessee Knoxville
Graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in child and family studies

18. Dierks Bentley
Vanderbilt University
Graduated in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree

19. Darius Rucker
University of South Carolina
Left before graduation

20. Scotty McCreery
North Carolina State University
Left before graduation

21. Garth Brooks
Oklahoma State University
Graduated in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in advertising

22. Reba McEntire
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Graduated with a degree in education

23. Chris Stapleton
Vanderbilt University
Left before graduation

24. Trisha Yearwood
Young Harris College, University of Georgia and Belmont University
Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business

25. Dan + Shay’s Dan Smyers
Carnegie Mellon University
Graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in finance

26. Dan + Shay’s Shay Mooney
Valley Forge Christian College
Left before graduation

27. Jake Owen
Florida State University
Left before graduation

28. Jon Pardi
Butte College in California
Left before graduation

29. Charles Kelley
University of Georgia
Graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in finance
Lambda Chi Alpha

30. Dave Haywood
University of Georgia
Graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree

(Remember in 2018 when Haywood and Kelley went back to UGA, in full cap and gown, to give the commencement address?)

31. Hillary Scott
Middle Tennessee State University
Left before graduation

32. Kenny Chesney
East Tennessee State University
Graduated in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in advertising

33. Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles
Agnes Scott College in Georgia
Graduated in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology

34. Chase Rice
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
He even made a video about his love for playing football there.

35. Cam
University of California, Davis
Graduated in 2006 with a double major in psychology and Italian

36. Dustin Lynch
Lipscomb University
Graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in biology

37. Brett Eldredge
Elmhurst College outside of Chicago
Left before graduation

38. Jordan Davis
Louisiana State University
Graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and resource conservation

39. Matt Stell
Drury University in Missouri
Graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree

40. Old Dominion’s Matt Ramsey
Virginia Commonwealth University
Graduated with an illustration degree

41. Phil Vassar
James Madison University
Graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro