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January 13th, 2012,
top college movies

By Alexander Diedrick

Hollywood is always trying to capture the definition of a “college experience.” This usually falls flat, typically relying on hollow characters, too much partying, and/or genius janitors. There is a place for these movies, but that place isn’t for helping students find their way.

But sometimes, college movies can actually be both entertaining and provide some kind of lesson, even if it doesn’t want to admit it. We’ve put together a list of some of these top college movies, and there isn’t a Damon or Affleck in sight (that movie is the worst).

“Rudy” (1993)
Everyone loves an underdog story (except “Underdog” (2007)), and “Rudy” is the definition of that. Based on a true story, Sean Austin plays Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger, a boy who had high hopes for playing football for the University of Notre Dame despite being too small to play.

Rudy overcomes many obstacles throughout the movie, including his size, and is finally allowed on the field for the final play of the final home game. With the stadium rallying behind him, Rudy truly becomes a hero in the face of adversity.

“Rudy” is great for those college students with big dreams but don’t necessarily have all of the talent and experience, and who among us does?

“Revenge of the Nerds” (1984)
Although “nerd culture” has become mainstream, “Revenge of the Nerds” still stands the test of time. In the movie, nerds seek vengeance on the bullying Alpha Betas, and they become the champs by the end of the movie, their path including techno beats, a flimsy javelin, and music by Queen.

“Revenge of the Nerds” gives hope to everyone, not just “nerds.” It shows you that you can change your image in college, no matter what that might be, and you can use techno music to do it!

“Social Network” (2010)
“Social Network” tells the story of how Mark Zuckerberg created (or, depending on who you believe, stole? the idea for Facebook and made a zillion dollars. That’s a story that we can all relate with, right?

Although you might not have created a social media network that most college students are using RIGHT NOW, the story still has many elements we all know. Despite all of the acts Zuckerberg does in pursuit of demonstrating his own excellence, all he really wants is to be “liked.” (Facebook joke!)

“Orange County” (2002)
Okay, so this isn’t the best movie out there, but it still has merit being on the list. “Orange County” is about the quest of Tom Hanks’ son to be accepted to Harvard as a writer after a clerical error bumps him off the list.

He’s willing to do whatever it takes to leave his hometown, Orange County, even though that’s his inspiration for his writing. In the end, he realizes that he needs to stay in Orange County because that’s where the people are that love him.

“Orange County” is a great tale for the future college students that plan on moving as far away as possible to attend any school just to get away. If that’s what you really want to do, go for it, but just make sure it’s for the right reasons.

“Back to School” (1986)
This one is more for the adults that are returning to college after working for years in their career or building a family. “Back to School” is about Thornton Melon, a rich man played by Rodney Dangerfield who decides to go (ready for it?) back to school after a long career.

Of course, if you’re reading this article, you probably don’t have billions of dollars (and have an extraordinary Olympic diving ability), but “Back to School” still teaches us that it’s never to late to go back to school. And you can’t rule out the importance of a good education.

Imagine that! We learned something from Rodney Dangerfield besides how to break into impromptu partying.

“The Graduate” (1967)
Not your typical “college” movie, “The Graduate” revolves around Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate who searches for some purpose in his life.

This movie perfectly captures the life of a college grad who is not content with the path that his life is heading. He is adrift, and many college students feel the same way once they graduate.

“The Graduate” provides a cautionary tale to following the wrong path, a path that someone else has laid out. It’s your education, so you have to be happy with it. Plus, the movie provides a great Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack.

“National Lampoon’s Animal House” (1978)
No list of college movies would be complete without “Animal House.” It would be like making a list of things that humans need and leaving out “oxygen” and “ice cream.”

“Animal House,” while not exactly promoting the highest morals of college movies, is essential because it delivers exactly what a real college does: chaos, good friends, and John Belushi. Although it is highly important to do well in college – it does set up the rest of your life, after all – it still is important to enjoy yourself and find your niche.

Also, togas are important. Very, very important.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the feedback! Let us know what you think about the ones you haven’t seen.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the feedback, Erica! It’s nice to know that the most entertaining movies also have some educational value. :)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks so much for your feeback, and let us know what you think of the movies you haven’t seen yet!

  • JudyAnneCavey

    “Animal House”, one of my favorites, never laughed so hard the first time I saw it with a group of friends. Then, I experienced it firsthand when I went to a frat party…enough said. “Rudy”, excellent movie which shows perseverance and that even the wildest dreams can come true.u00a0

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Judy Ann! I agree — these are two of my favorites.