"Now I can walk outside in the morning and have a cup of coffee and actually breathe, and, you know, every once in a while I just need to take a break, you know?" Olsen says. Her conversation, like that of so many other girls her age, is peppered with "like," "kind of" and "you know," and her declarative sentences are often phrased as questions. ("I don't actually look at a lot of fashion magazines?" she says at one point, when asked what inspires her style.)
"You know, [college] is easier for my sister and that's great, you know? I'm happy that I kind of realized that, okay, I just need to take care of myself right now," she says. "I need to be able to go to yoga and work out and just read scripts and go on auditions, because that's what makes me happy. You know? Like, papers don't really make me happy."
Her handlers insist that this is just a temporary break and that Olsen will return to NYU or, barring that, transfer to a West Coast university. "She's not stepping away from school," says Diane Reichenberger, the new CEO of Dualstar. Reichenberger says Olsen comes to the office twice a week to discuss all the major decisions at the company. "You can't put a price tag on that kind of education," Reichenberger says. "There's your M.B.A."
Despite the term papers and the constant attention of the paparazzi, Olsen insists that she did enjoy her thus-far brief college experience. It wasn't particularly difficult meeting people, and her best friends live in the city. ("I'm shocked how open she is to dive in there and meet new people," says Slater.) And Olsen insists that she appreciated the academics as well. "I love to learn, I really do," she says. "We'd study something in class and I'd take it outside of class and become, like, obsessive and just research everything."
During her freshman year, she grew especially interested in Sigmund Freud. "I became obsessed with him," Olsen says. "It just really hit me, just the way he explains the mind and, like, how it works in certain people or certain diseases. How people may look at his stuff as a little off because some of it's pretty extreme, but how much truth there is behind it, you know? You start thinking and you're like, Oh my God. I think one of the most amazing things about learning is that you really discover things about yourself."
High school wasn't quite as intellectually stimulating. Olsen describes her years at North Hollywood's Campbell Hall as "fun" and "easy." She and her sister couldn't enroll in AP classes or electives because they were often working. "We weren't allowed to challenge ourselves, so we did really well," she says. "It was frustrating, but we knew at some point in our lives we could do what we wanted to do."