Chelsea Clinton, Julia Stiles, James Franco in your class?

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Students returning to school this week will find their campus green turned into the red carpet as a host of boldface names are filling the city's lecture halls.

Supermodel Christy Turlington will be attending Columbia University to study maternal and child health. Then there's Chelsea Clinton, who will allegedly begin her pursuit for a public health policy graduate degree at Columbia. Meanwhile, " Spiderman" hunk James Franco has begun taking classes downtown at New York University, where he'll rub shoulders with "Sixth Sense" child star Haley Joel Osment and "Road to Perdition" actor Liam Aiken.

- Click to see 14 photos of Chelsea Clinton through the years

- -Click here for photos of Julia Stiles and other celebrities at Fashion Week.

"Some campuses are more equipped to deal with celebrity applicants because of their infrastructure or the PR team," said Rod Bugarin, a former assistant director of admissions at Columbia and who now counsels high school students on how to gain admission to top tier universities. "New York City institutions are phenomenal examples of that, because New Yorkers see celebrities all the time, they just become part of the mix."

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Students, though, say they look on their gold star brethren warily, determined not to seem too excited at the celebs in their midst but irritated at the preferential treatment they seem to get.

Ian Folkert, a 2008 graduate of NYU recalled being in Italian class with Anne Hathaway in the few times he said she deigned to show up. "Having a celebrity in class makes it harder to learn Italian," he said.

The disruption to students is undeniable, as the Olsen twins' brief academic life at NYU showed. Covered with large sunglasses, hats and scarves, the twins often were chased by paparazzi throughout the streets around the university.

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People familiar with the college admissions process say that even stars have to show they can keep up academically if they want to be accepted to the most selective colleges.

"The admissions committee wouldn't look kindly on students that would be a detriment to the school," Burgarin said. "It takes effort and talent to make a commitment to a particular art or acting or a sport, so we recognize that, but I can tell you I've denied celebrities."

James Franco Photo Credit: AP

Having an A-lister no doubt raises the profile of a school and eases the recruiting process for the college, students and admissions experts said. However, the celeb also has something to gain besides an advanced education.

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James Houran, a clinical psychologist who researches celebrity worship, said celebrities can use college in a carefully orchestrated effort to control their image."If Britney Spears went back to school people might take her talk of going to rehab more seriously," he said.

Nina Behar, a sophomore at NYU, who lived in the same dorm as the Olsen twins' younger sister, Lizzie, said that celebrities tend to seem like regular people pretty quickly, but she added, "I definitely didn't see any in my classes, because I'm a physics major."

Kristen V. Brown contributed to this story.

- -Click here for photos of Julia Stiles and other celebrities at Fashion Week.

- Click to see 14 photos of Chelsea Clinton through the years

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