15 Movies To Watch Before You Head Off To College

It’s getting to be about that time. In about a month, new students from all across the world will be immersed in a completely new environment, ready to take on the many trials and tribulations that come with wearing a University t-shirt and playing weird icebreaker games. Here are some movies that may prove helpful:

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Into The Wild

1. Her (2013)


Her has nothing to do with college, but it has everything to do with our increasing tendency to exist elsewhere. Existing elsewhere is easy, tempting, and has morphed into a social crutch. If you go to college to experience things, make sure to actually experience them.

2. Fight Club (1999)


There’s so much to this movie, all of which has likely been said before. Fight Club is a 139 exercise in critical thinking, personal introspection, and how to reach the core of that what makes you tick. I think you need to be around 17,18 to fully grasp this movie, and its messages are rather “important.”

3. Slumdog Milionaire (2008)


In addition to being a great movie, Slumdog reminds us that we really have no idea where they’re coming from, or what they may have experienced in the past. Very important to keep in mind when you’re meeting new people.

4. 28 Days (2000)


The study that was me attending college found that a strong portion of college students drink copious amounts of alcohol. Binge drinking is the norm, so drinking 11 beers on a Saturday night, although probably alarming to your parents, isn’t really cause for concern.

That said, alcoholism is no joke, and watching movies like this one — a comedy-drama starring Sandra Bullock and McNulty from The Wire that deals with denial, addiction, and sobriety — certainly puts things into perspective.

5. Into The Wild (2007)


Into The Wild is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, who, after graduating from Emory University abandoned his possessions, donated his $24,000 savings account to charity, and set off for Alaska to live a life of solitude. What starts as an interesting take on rejecting the socially constructed “real world” quickly turns into a fascinating look at the necessity of human companionship. Can someone truly be happy if they don’t have anyone to share that happiness with?

6. Pitch Perfect (2012)


Whether or not you’re thinking about joining an a capella group, this is certainly a great watch for any incoming college student. In addition to being thoroughly entertaining, Pitch Perfect deftly touches upon “fitting in” in college. Upon first arriving, pretty much everyone will feel just as alone as you.

7. Predators (2010)


There’s gonna be plenty of days when you’re lying on the couch hungover, and none of your roommates have any idea why the hell you’re still watching some movie that nobody in the room is actually watching.

This confusing-but-Adrien-Brody-starring remake of Predator is the perfect training for this sort of thing.

8. The Social Network (2010)


Actually, you’ve probably learned all the lessons here — Social Media is kinda good but can be pretty harmful, ambitious people sometimes lose friends, and AEPi hosts some killer Carribean Nights.

Irregardless, a pertinent history lesson from the recent past.

9. Wonder Boys (2000)


Popular narratives and the college experience in general predominately focuses on the students. After all, they are the ones to whom the experience is occurring. But what about those who make it happen?

Wonder Boys focuses more on the Professorial side of things, following Michael Douglas as he tries to manage between ever-growing professional and personal obstacles. In a few ways, it feels like the predecessor to Josh Radnor’s recent college movie Liberal Arts. 

10. The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006)


As 94% of motivational youtube speeches will tell you, you’ve gotta work hard — harder than you’ve ever imagined — to attain great success in your career field, and in life in general. The Pursuit of Happyness, by virtue of balancing intense personal struggle with intense drive, shows just how hard you’ve gotta work.

11. Prime (2005)


This isn’t a college dating story, but it’s a story that demonstrates why no matter how steamy a relationship may be, there are just some situations where dating seriously just doesn’t make sense — which, despite the practical limits, doesn’t mitigate the intensity and passion of your courtship in any way.

College is a time for fleeting relationships galore, so not a bad idea to take a leaf out of this movie’s book.

12. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1979)


I don’t like those people who are all like “if you haven’t watched X movie, you don’t deserve to live.” That seems very radical, even for the extremist group that is movie-watching forcers.

I’m not saying you don’t deserve to live if you haven’t watched Animal House. But I will say that if you haven’t seen Animal House, it’s best to lie and avoid the condescending wrath that will inevitably ensue. Also you should watch Animal House.

13. Drumline (2002)


Great movie, that touches upon both the intensity of collegiate team dynamics, and the struggles of adjusting to a new environment. Also, with the mega-focus on college football, it’s very cool to dip into the lives of those whose big moment to shine is actually during halftime.

14. Enough Said (2013)


Leaving for college is a big transition for incoming freshman, but it’s also a huge transition for those who’ve raised us. This is also a time where one’s relationship with their parents changes drastically, in the sense that the relationship trends less towards authority figure and more towards friend. Worth the watch.

15. Superbad (2007)


Superbad has nothing to do with college life, but it has everything to do with the inevitable pain of leaving — leaving your hometown friends behind, whilst anxiously looking ahead for what’s to come. The friendship between Seth and Evan her is incredibly well done — both projecting their insecurities about being separated from one another, whilst realizing that they’ve gotta make this one last summer count. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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