Getting into college can be one of the defining moments in the life of a young person. The anxiety and buildup involved and the payoff after is a big part of what helps to shape us and our views when we are younger. It can be exhilarating and emotive to experience and observe this sort of thing take place, and that’s probably why so many movies have been made about the college process.
You could file movies like this under the bildungsroman or coming-of-age category. And, in many ways, that’s exactly what they are – stories about maturing and learning valuable life lessons. No matter your age, these are movies that will speak to you and remind you that, while college is important, life is actually more important in a lot of ways. Here are some of the top flicks about getting into college.
This little-known movie starring Paul Rudd and Tina Fey is actually highly underrated. Fey plays a hard-hearted Princeton admissions officer, and Rudd is a former classmate running an unconventional alternative high school, who vies for a spot at Princeton for his most gifted student. The movie is funny and entertaining; it shows us a lot about the inner workings of the college admissions process, as well as exploring the lives and loves of the characters within the movie.
Risky Business (1983)
Arguably the movie that set Tom Cruise on the path to becoming the superstar we all know and love! Cruise’s Joel Goodsen will do anything to get into Princeton and impress his dad, in this satire of middle-class America during the Reagan-era. He doesn’t have the grades, but he has the charm, the swagger, and the internal fortitude! This is a fun, entertaining romp, and a great look at some of Cruise’s best early work.
Legally Blonde (2001)
After Elle’s preppy boyfriend dumps her because she’s too dumb for Harvard Law, the spunky blonde vows revenge gains acceptance to Harvard and winds up representing a client in court. Legally Blonde is definitely one of those guilty pleasure films. There are plenty of elements here that don’t work, but there is enough that the movie is better than it ought to be. It helped cement Reese Witherspoon’s leading lady status and has some very quotable lines.
The History Boys (2006)
This adaptation of Alan Bennett’s classic play focuses on a British grammar school in Sheffield, and the efforts of a teacher to get his 8 brightest boys into either Oxford or Cambridge. The film satirizes the grammar school obsession with status and figures, as well as the love of learning for learning’s sake. The movie works as an appraisal and indictment of the British grammar school and elite university scene, and makes for a compelling watch, largely due to the captivating performance of the late Richard Griffiths.
Many great movies have been made about the college scene and the process of trying to get into college. But, we feel like these are the best representations of the process, and how people approach it. The movies all have plenty to offer, and they explore a lot of themes unrelated to college life as well. They are fun, interesting, and informative movies, with an important message at their heart.