Robert De Niro has been awarded an honorary degree from Bates College in Maine. During his 15-minute address to the college, he humored those in attendance with his unusual attitude to higher education and why he was glad he left school to pursue a career in acting. Talking to the 5,000 gathered onlookers at the private college's graduation ceremony, De Niro explained that by leaving school when he did, he actually saved money but still landed a degree.
The gathered throng let out a collective chuckle, as De Niro explained "In many ways, leaving school when I did it was an advantage. I saved nearly 6,000 dollars by not having to pay tuition and expenses for four years of education. I feel a little foolish because if I had waited until now not to go to college, I could have saved around a quarter of a million. It worked out just fine. I saved the money, and I got the degree."
It wasn't all laughs, though, as the Taxi Driver actor offered some serious advice, as well, saying "If you're an actor, always be true to your character. If you're not an actor, have character and always be true to yourself." He was one of three high profile figures to be awarded an honorary degree from the college, along with the Pbs Newshour correspondent Gwen Ifill and the molecular biologist from Princetown University, Bonnie Bassler. De Niro was honored for his acting career, which has seen him earn two Oscars (for Raging Bull and The Godfather, Part II) and a further four nominations.