Classic college movies and how they stack up to the real thing


The author offers a guide to classic college movies graded, not based on their quality, but on their accuracy. (Flickr, Creative Commons)

The author offers a guide to classic college movies graded, not based on their quality, but on their accuracy. (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Everyone has expectations when they head off to college. You’re ready for the copious alcohol, sex and lack of responsibility that was promised by classic college comedies. Yet when you’re elbow deep in papers, lab reports and midterm study guides, you might be wondering, “Where’s the partying I was promised?”

Hate to break it to you, but some movies, while entertaining and hilarious, don’t always line up with what you’ll actually experience in college. Here’s your guide to classic college movies graded, not based on their quality, but on their accuracy.

Animal House

“Animal House” is the most archetypal college movie out there. Detailing a fraternity’s mission to stay on campus while at odds with the school’s dean of students is… well, something that totally happens. If throwing parties that destroy your house and girls passing out drunk is a regular occurrence, you’re probably going to be in hot water. However, you probably aren’t going to get one up on the dean by sabotaging the homecoming parade and turning it into total chaos.

The naked pillow fight between the sorority is, to be frank, something that never happens. I was hoping I didn’t have to state that one. Voyeurism is not cool, guys.

Most guys that chug a fifth of Jack Daniels end up on the floor within 20 minutes of finishing it, so advice goes against trying to be John Belushi. Yet, I own the iconic poster of Belushi in his “COLLEGE” crewneck chugging that fifth of Jack Daniels and pray to it before going out for a night of partying.

However, toga parties do happen and I’ve spent a few nights dancing to “Shout” by the Isley Brothers, including laying on the floor to get “a little bit softer now.”

Grade: C

American Pie

The cast of "American Pie" at a reunion in Melbourne, Australia in March 2012.

The cast of “American Pie” at a reunion in Melbourne, Australia in March 2012.

While the characters are still in high school, the goal of the boys at the center of “American Pie” is to lose their virginity before college, a common goal for many high school students in their position. The levels of sexual frustration felt by the characters is very real, whether you’re a virgin or just in a really bad dry spell, leaving some people to go on a quest to have sex like it’s the only thing that matters.

Again, voyeurism isn’t cool and in most cases, a girl probably won’t be interested in you after finding out you’ve been watching her change.

I personally can’t attest to the accuracy of a warm apple pie as a sex substitute, so I’ll leave that claim untouched.

Moral of the story: if you try hard enough, you’ll probably get laid, even if it’s a seemingly naive girl using you as a one night stand. Just probably not your friend’s mom.

Grade: C+

Revenge of the Nerds

“Revenge of the Nerds” tells the story of the underdog nerds standing up to the harassment they face at the hands of a top fraternity at their college.

While exclusivity is definitely something you’ll face throughout your college experience (“What do you mean I need a wristband to get in?”), the clique clashes depicted in the movie aren’t something you’ll see often. Most people won’t care about your social status in college. At their most hostile, people won’t be harassing you solely because you’re a “nerd”; they just won’t interact with you.

The nerds later form their own fraternity. During the Greek Games, the nerds prove themselves a force to be reckoned with. They have a lot of fun while doing it too, exclusivity be damned.

Grade: B-

The Graduate

“The Graduate” depicts confusion and aimlessness in post-grad life. It’s not something only graduates experience though. How many times have you stumbled over your words or shrugged when your family hits you with a “What do you want to do next?”

The Graduate (Classic Film/Creative Commons)

The Graduate (Classic Film/Creative Commons)

Ben Braddock sleeps with his older married neighbor, only to fall in love with her daughter, while delaying his application to grad school or a job. The movie captures the questionable decisions young adults can make when they don’t have a direct goal. Ben is lost, filling his time by having an affair with his neighbor, even though he later realizes it’s something he doesn’t even want.

While there aren’t many shenanigans in “The Graduate,” like the other movies on this list, it captures a different side of the college experience. It’s deeper than partying and hooking up with strangers. It portrays the lost feeling or confused identity many students in their late teens and early 20s experience at some point or another.

Grade: B+

Schae Beaudoin is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at

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