Movies about college make for a bad stereotype

Shanel Royal

An attractive girl lies on a table clad only in a bikini while equally attractive men take shots of alcohol off her stomach. The crowd, wearing sorority and fraternity logos, cheers them on.

This is a fictional scene that could have easily come from movies like “National Lampoon’s Animal House” or “American Pie.” The film industry’s take on college is stereotypical and gives higher education a bad name.

Movies take away the actual hard work students do to get through college. Education involves studying, homework and exams. Students take on full course loads pulling all-nighters just to keep up with the amount of schoolwork. Education takes a backseat when it comes to students in the movies, yet they still pass.

“I think that most movies don’t depict the education part of college; it’s all about the hobbies and extracurricular (activities), which is part of it, but it’s not even half of it in my mind,” said junior biological sciences major Ashley Cliver.

Professors often advise students to devote two hours or more for completing homework. Multiply that by four classes; that’s eight hours of homework. This isn’t always the case, but not allowing adequate time for studying can lead to failure of a course or test. This is what happened to Josh, the main character of the movie “Dead Man on Campus.” Josh flunked his mid-term after not studying.

People shouldn’t think college is so hard there isn’t time for a social life, but they shouldn’t be told that skipping class and exams will allow them to pass either. Teachers do not always allow make-up exams, especially if there is not a legitimate reason to why a student missed the class.

“The modern perception of college in a majority of movies, and even TV shows, is a very negative one and I think that’s an unfairly earned stereotype,” said senior government major Daniel Heiser. “At the same time that’s what’s going to get the most attention.”

College is about responsibilities and adulthood. With the rising costs of tuition, college doesn’t come cheap. Many students often end up paying tuition by working or with savings. Movies like “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder” illustrate people going to school with their parent’s money.

Some students live on their own while paying for school. They pay bills and car payments in addition to tuition. Keeping up with homework while working to pay bills and college fees is not an easy task.

“I have two jobs and a vigorous major,” Cliver said. “I feel like movies don’t address that.”

Stereotypical films about college exaggerate behaviors in order to attract an audience. Sure, partying is fun, but binge drinking and taking drugs come with consequences. People die from consuming too much alcohol or drugs. However, students in the movies wake up with only hangovers.

Sex is also a recurring theme in movies based on college life. Everyone seems willing to have sex and the characters have sex with multiple people. Sometimes the whole movie revolves around sex, such as the “American Pie” series.

“(Filmmakers) just think we’re crazy college students and we go out, we party and do all this stuff. In reality we stay up (studying) for exams; we pull all-nighters…it’s some serious stuff. College is a big thing,” said senior recreations and leisure studies major Stephen Menebroker.

Movies usually portray people partying and socializing in a fraternity or sorority, but neglect to mention other groups. Colleges have clubs for just about anyone. There are clubs for sports, politics, electronics and more. Movies should advertise the many options of associations for students.

Teachers also get a bad reputation from stereotypical college movies. They have a low tolerance for bad behavior. Students don’t get kicked out of school for pulling pranks or skipping class. If professors aren’t dealing with pranks, they are sleeping with students.

Some students may live the college life seen in the movies, but stereotypes should not account for the overall view. It is important to watch the films with the knowledge that they are not real.

The movies make college look fun with less learning. Though these movies are made for entertainment purposes, they still shed a negative light on the actual college experience. It’s OK for films to make light of higher learning, but not to diminish the value of education.


Shanel can be reached at: [email protected]