How far the cast of Stranger Things got in school

By the start of Season 3, the kids of Stranger Things have checked off every middle school right of passage. SPOILER ALERT! Mike and Eleven kiss, Dustin gets a girlfriend at summer camp, Eleven has a punk phase, and Will endures a regrettable haircut while coughing up a slug. It's all pretty normal middle school stuff here. With the gang headed to high school, it's the first time the actors' on-screen education might actually start to surpass their real-life education.

Most of these Netflix stars are juggling school work with their newfound fame. Some have been doing the dance for years — whether it's through home-schooling or skipping classes to make their Broadway performances — but only a handful of them have headed to college. It's unclear if those still in high school are going to take the leap, but then again, when you're making upwards of $250,000 per episode, you probably don't qualify for financial aid. 

Here's how far the cast of Stranger Things got in school.

Bullying forced Millie Bobby Brown to switch schools

According to Millie Bobby Brown's primary school teacher, Gemma Hill, the young actress was a star from the very start. Mrs. Hill told the Bournemouth Echo that Brown "loved any kind of performance" and had the "ambition and drive" to really make it. It's not surprising that things happened quickly for the actress. After her family left England for Florida, the star enrolled in stage-school where she was discovered and encouraged to move to LA for auditions. Unfortunately, California was tough on the family's finances (at one point, they had to borrow money from Brown's manager), and they eventually went back to the UK in 2015. Shortly after, they learned that Brown had landed the role of Eleven on Stranger Things.

Schooling wasn't easy for Brown, but if the girl can defeat the Demogorgon, who cares about bullies? "I was bullied at school back in England. So, it's extremely important for me to speak out against bullying. I actually switched schools because of it. It created a lot of anxiety and issues that I still deal with today," she told Glamour UK.

According to the Bournemouth Echo, Mrs. Hill was hired to help tutor Brown upon her return to the UK, but she's home-schooled online in America. In a 2017 tweet, Brown admitted she had been home-schooled for five years and that it's "worked well" for her.

Gaten Matarazzo is in the school drama club

There's a reason Gaten Matarazzo absolutely nailed Dustin's NeverEnding Story song sequence — he's been juggling Broadway acting and school for years. In 2011, the South Jersey native landed his first Broadway role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The following year, he starred in Les Miserables, but struggled to balance his classroom workload.

"I'd go to school in the morning and then miss my last period of the day," he told SJMag. "I'd do my homework at the theater when I wasn't onstage. We'd get out at 11. I'd get home about 1:30 am and then get up at 6:30 am to do it all over again."

Today, school seems a bit easier to balance for the actor. In an interview with NJ.com, Matarazzo opened up about how his Stranger Things co-stars went to school on-set, which is undoubtedly less of a time-suck than commuting back and forth from South Jersey to Manhattan. When he's not filming, he attends Pinelands Regional High School, where he's part of the school's theater group, in his hometown of Egg Harbor Township. Yes, Matarazzo knows his way around a high school musical (both the Disney film and the real-life thing). According to PhillyVoice, Matarazzo performs in the drama club's productions and even went to junior prom with his girlfriend, a fellow actress who attends the same high school.

Finn Wolfhard thinks high school is 'Hell'

When Finn Wolfhard isn't smooching Eleven in Season 3 of Stranger Things, he's going to school just like everyone else. It's safe to say that he's tutored on-set with his Stranger Things co-stars, like Matarazzo suggested in a NJ.com interview, but he does attend regular school during his off-time. In 2016, the actor revealed to Vulture that he went to Catholic school even though he was Jewish.

Wolfhard, who's best known for his role as Mike in Netflix series and starring string of music videos for the Canadian punk rock band Pup, has acted through a great deal of his schooling. His first credited role came in 2013 when he was around 11 years old. It's honestly amazing that the young star manages to hit the books at all between balancing Stranger Things, filming movies like Ghostbusters 2020 and The Addams Family, and touring with his rock band Calpurnia. The experience sounds only slightly less stressful than getting trapped in the Upside Down, but at least he sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

"We have one more year [of high school], one more eternity, and then once we're done with that eternity, we'll be in, what do they call it, Hell? They call it Hell. Purgatory. No, being in high school is the Hell part," he told Consequence of Sound.

Noah Schnapp feels like he's leading a double life

For Noah Schnapp, fame feels like a double life. The dude is totally pulling a Hannah Montana sans the blonde wig and with the addition of some slimy looking slugs. Like Matarazzo, Schnapp probably attends school on the set of Stranger Things, but when he's home, he attends a normal school just like everyone else and gets to experience at least a little bit of a regular childhood. 

"I also go to regular school and to the same summer camp I've been going to since I was 7," he told People. "It's like I have two lives. It's fun!"

Where there are normal classes, there are normal middle school dances. In 2017, the star told Vanity Fair that middle school dances are nothing like they looked in the Season 2 finale, even if everyone is dressed up. Apparently, things are pretty awkward, no one dances, and nerves appear to be as high as someone who just witnessed a Demogorgon lunging through their middle school hallways. 

"From my middle school dance . . . the boys were on one side, and the girls were on the other side, and we never interacted with each other," he told Vanity Fair. Don't worry, boo! You'll be playing 7 Minutes In Heaven in no time, and you'll learn what awkward truly means.

​Caleb McLaughlin is just going to do all his schooling from home

Caleb McLaughlin is another Stranger Things star who got his start on Broadway, so he's quite familiar with the work-school struggle. From 2012 to 2014, the actor starred as young Simba in The Lion King. He also attended The Harlem School of the Arts, but it wasn't his passion for acting that led him to have a nontraditional middle school and high school career. He began home-schooling long before he ever landed the role of Lucas on Stranger Things.

In a 2019 interview with People, McLaughlin opened up about how he asked to be home-schooled when he was in fifth grade. "I was like, 'I want out of this. I want to do home-schooling. I want to learn on my own leisure,'" he said. "I just finished high school, I graduated. So I'm done, but I'm going to college this fall."

McLaughlin plans to take a similar approach to college as he did in high school. While he's likely no longer attending classes on set with his Stranger Things co-stars, he does plan to take online college courses, and continue learning at his own pace. "I'm pretty excited. Just stay educated, man," he told People.

Sadie Sink wears Miu Miu to school

Like Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, who joined Stranger Things in Season 2 as the California cool-girl Mad Max, was plucked from the Broadway stage. In 2013, she served as an understudy and alternate for the red-headed lead in Annie, then nabbed the part of Young Elizabeth in The Audience a few years later. 

Throughout all of her success — which includes being a muse for Miu Miu and sharing the runway with legends like Naomi Campbell — Sink still managed to attend a regular high school, where she studied things like calculus and psychology, and even made plans to take the SAT. There's one thing, however, that she is not: a normal high school student. In an interview with W Magazine, the actress admitted that she once wore Miu Miu to class, which is certainly a departure from the coordinating velour sweatsuits of high schoolers past. 

"People looked at me kind of weird, like, Oh, my God, she's wearing Miu Miu to school," she told W Magazine. "It was kind of outrageous — it's this beautiful red sweater with all these jewels on top. But I didn't care; I was like, It's beautiful. Get over it."

Sink also doesn't plan to stop her education at high school. The star told Interview that she's always had "this vision of me going to college." She definitely plans to go when she has the time.

David Harbour was a Dartmouth frat boy

Honestly, who cares about Bob? Jim Hopper triggered the ultimate tear-jerker in Season 3 of Stranger Things. In David Harbour's masterful performance, the actor managed to embody the difficult combination of stereotypical masculinity and emotional fragility. His sheer skills can, no doubt, be credited to his extensive experience.

According to Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Harbour grew up in White Plains, New York. He first graced the stage in kindergarten when he played the Tin Man in a school production of The Wizard of Oz and apparently learned his lines– and everyone else's — "perfectly." The star eventually went to high school, but was a troubled student and picked up a drinking habit to help numb the anger and fear he admittedly "wasn't mature enough to handle." This habit continued when he enrolled in Dartmouth, his father's alma mater, and joined Sigma Phi Epsilon.

"Part of it might have been the god***n weather. I'd look out the window at 9 a.m. to see three feet of snow and thought it would be a better idea to skip class and drink peach schnapps," he told Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. "I just wanted to create this void to destroy myself."

Despite his drinking habit, which he eventually quit, Harbour reportedly stunned in Dartmouth's productions of Hamlet and Macbeth. He graduated in 1997 and started racking up acting credits five years later.

Winona Ryder battled high school bullies

Much like her younger Stranger Things co-stars, Winona Ryder was a Hollywood ingenue, but her parents forced her to juggle school and acting. In an interview with Marie Claire UK, the Beetlejuice actress admitted that they only allowed her "to film during the school holidays," and if she could maintain her good grades. According to the Los Angeles Times, the star graduated from high school with a 4.0, but it wasn't an easy ride.

Before Ryder won a Golden Globe, became an Oscar nominee, and got entangled in what might just be the most highly publicized shoplifting case in history, she had trouble with junior high bullies. The star told V Magazine that she was harassed (and/or badly beaten up, according to this conflicting account) by a group of students who shouted homophobic slurs at her because of her short haircut. After the incident, she dropped out — or was kicked out — and briefly home-schooled while attending the American Conservatory Theater's Young Conservatory program.

Things didn't get better for Ryder in high school. According to Marie Claire UK, Ryder hoped Beetlejuice's success would give her a popularity boost. "I remember thinking, 'Ooh, it's like the number-one movie. This is going to make things great at school.' But it made things worse. They called me a witch," she said.

Ryder's biography (via People) reveals that the star was finally vindicated years later when her junior high bully asked for an autograph and she told her to "go f**k" herself.

​Natalia Dyer is hitting the books at NYU

Natalia Dyer, who is best known for spearheading the short-lived search for Barb in her role as Nancy Wheeler, is actually quite studious in real life. According to The Tennessean, the Tennessee native graduated from Nashville School of the Arts where she performed alongside community theater groups like the Circle Players, the oldest non-profit community theater in Music City. 

Dyer's acting career sparked by accident after she sprained her ankle on the first day of sports camp. She told The Tennessean that her parents put her into "something a little less active" after that, and eventually, she managed to make her way out of theater and onto the big screen with a role in Hannah Montana: The Movie. 

Though Dyer certainly has her plate full with Stranger Things, the star still managed to find time to go to college. According to Teen Vogue, she studies at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, but she pulls from her high school experience to make Nancy shine.

"I see some similarities to her in high school and me in high school — just the way that she straddles groups," she told Teen Vogue. "I was always a floater. I had a lot of different social groups, always trying to figure out where [I] really fit in."

Joe Keery has a BFA in acting

Joe Keery's character is vying for the biggest redemption in arc in all of Stranger Things. Over three seasons, his character transformed from cool guy jock to Dustin's compassionate sidekick. Who would have thought? It makes sense that Keery could handle such meaningful character development. The star is quite a bit older than the rest of the Stranger Things kids (old enough to get kicked out of their group chat), and he spent that extra time perfecting his craft with higher education.

Keery attended Newburyport High School in Massachusetts, where his sister got him a spot on the drama club's tech crew as a freshman. "Caroline kind of dragged me over," he told the The Daily News. "She said, 'No, you're going to do this.' She kind of got me involved in this whole thing, and I kept doing it for pretty much the whole time in high school."

After graduation, the future Netflix star honed his craft at DePaul University. In 2014, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting, and landed the role on Stranger Things not long after.

Charlie Heaton stopped school at 16

Charlie Heaton might just be the Stranger Things cast member with the least amount of schooling, unless Noah Schnapp decides to drop out of high school during his sophomore year, but we're not quite there yet. The star graduated from his secondary education at age 16, which sounds young, but it's typical for British students who don't have the same high school structure as Americans. Instead of going into further education and taking the A-Levels, Heaton high-tailed it to London where he tried to make it as a musician.

According to the Evening Standard, Heaton had no formal acting training and started going on auditions because, after touring with several bands, money was extremely tight. He only had a few small TV credits before landing a role on Stranger Things (which essentially transpired in a burger shop in Hammersmith), but he's been honing his craft ever since. "It's the best way! You can go to school and learn and that works for some people. But I think the best kind of learning is practical and learning on the job," he told the outlet.

Maya Hawke is a Juilliard dropout

Maya Hawke has known show-biz since she was in the womb — she's the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Therman. It doesn't get much bigger than that. Even so, she didn't consider acting seriously until her junior year of high school. After that, according to WWD, the star acted in every school play possible. She even spent entire summers at acting camp, but for some reason, when it came to actually joining the family business, she had her reservations. 

"I was like, 'I don't know, do I want to get an English degree … ' I was simultaneously doing a play at my school, and it was the only thing I liked doing. I didn't like studying for my SAT, didn't like writing essays, but I felt so alive and capable in the theater at my school," she told WWD.

Maya ended up enrolling in Juilliard but, according to Elle, dropped out after a year because she landed a role in the 2017 BBC production Little Women, which filmed in Ireland. It might have been the best thing for her career, but it wasn't the best thing for her psyche. "One thing about leaving your training early is that it leaves you with all the tools with which to criticize yourself, without the skills to be able to implement the things that you know you're supposed to be doing," she told the mag.