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Top 10 Movies to See Before Going to College

Posted in Test Prep on September 19, 2010 by

Off to college soon? If so, we’ve got a list for you: the top 10 classic collegiate masterpieces that everyone should see.

Sure, most of the movies don’t represent the average college experience. But who wants to watch a movie about that? Instead, you’ll get hilarity, inspiration, and many quotable moments to last you for years to come!

Without further ado, the list:

1. Rudy (1993)
In a nutshell: If you work hard enough, any dream is possible.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger grew up in a steel mill town in Illinois where he was expected to make a living at the local steel mill, like his father. But Rudy has big dreams of playing football at Notre Dame. There are only a couple of problems with this dream: His grades are low, his athletic skills are mediocre, and he’s only half the size of the other players. Still, Rudy spends years working hard at a junior college in an attempt to achieve his dream… and you’ll have to watch the movie to see where he ends up! (Suffice to say, the movie’s inspirational!)

Rudy is based on a true story and is one of my favorite movies of all time. During that last scene, I always have to hold back tears.

Interesting facts: (1) This was Vince Vaughn’s film debut. (2) Rudy was ranked the 54th-most inspiring film of all time in the “AFI 100 Years” series

2. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
In a nutshell: Freshman year can be scary for a “knerd”— but we always come out on top in the end!

Gilbert and Lewis embark on their freshman year at Adams College, unaware of the dangers ahead. The jocks of Alpha Beta fraternity burn down their own house and kick the freshman out the dorm, forcing Gilbert and Lewis and a number of other “misfits” to live in the school gymnasium. The nerds soon realize they must form their own fraternity, in self-defense against the Alpha Betas. They must use their intelligence to compete against the jocks.

The classic jock/cheerleader/nerd dynamic leads to a lot of funny memorable moments. Plus, everyone can relate to feeling like an outcast at some point in their lives.

Interesting fact: Revenge of the Nerds is number 91 on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies.”

3. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
In a nutshell: It’s fun to have fun, but how far is too far?

Two freshman at Faber College, Larry Kroger and Kent Dorfman, are unwelcome at the prestigious Omega Theta Pi House and consequently turn to the Delta Tau Chi house, known as the worst fraternity on campus. Dean Wormer, intent on removing the Delta fraternity from campus, teams up with the clean-cut Omega president Greg Marmalard to find a way to get rid of the Deltas permanently. One food fight, toga party, and hilarious road trip later, the Deltas are ready to seek revenge on the Omegas and do so with an elaborately planned, havoc-wreaking Homecoming parade float.

There is no movie like this one. It is the classic National Lampoon movie, head and shoulders above the rest.  Many members of the younger generation has completely missed out on this 70’s classic–so get watching!

Interesting facts: (1) Animal House was #1 on Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies. (2) In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House “culturally significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. (3) In 2008, Empire magazine selected Animal House as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

4. Dead Poets Society (1989)
In a nutshell: Carpe diem! Seize the day!

Painfully shy Todd Anderson has been sent to the school where his popular older brother was valedictorian. His roommate, Neil, although exceedingly bright and popular, is very much under the thumb of his overbearing father. The two, along with their other friends, meet Professor Keating, their new English teacher, who tells them of the Dead Poets Society. Professor Keating encourages them to go against the status quo. Each, in their own way, does this, and is changed for life.

As a high school teacher, I always hoped to inspire my students to think outside the box and break the rules of conformity. This movie was an inspiration and shows that true success is achieved by those who value innovation, imagination, and virtue.

Interesting facts: (1) Nominated for Best Picture (2) Robin Williams received a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination (3) #20 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of  the 50 Best High School Movies

5. Old School (2003)
In a nutshell: Maybe you don’t actually need to go to college in order to have the “college experience.”

Middle-aged friends Mitch, Frank and Beanie are disillusioned with their personal lives when Beanie suggests that they form their own fraternity in Mitch’s new house on a college campus to re-live their glory days. They bring together a variety of misfit college students, losers, and middle-aged and elderly retirees as their new friends and Mitch becomes a local hero, with the college kids dubbing him The Godfather. Will Ferrell is great and while the movie’s plot is at times lacking, the film more than makes up for it with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

This is one of those movies that makes you sit back and say, “I WISH that’s what college was truly like.”

Interesting fact: Director Todd Phillips has said that the film was written as a kind of comedy Fight Club.

6. Election (1999)
In a nutshell: Don’t run for class president just so you can write it on your college application

Tracy is an overachiever whose obsession with getting into a good college masks a vindictive and manipulative personality. When Tracy obtains a nomination for class president in the school election, teacher Jim McAllister believes she does not deserve the title, and tries his best to stop her from winning. McAllister secretly disposes of two of Tracy’s ballots, then demands a recount. When a janitor discovers the two discarded ballots and presents them to the principal, the real drama of this dark comedy begins.

This movie does a great job of satirizing suburban high school life and high school politics. It’s a good combination of disturbing and funny and Reese Witherspoon’s performance, while uncharacteristic of her other work, is perfectly executed. Plus, she ends the movie referencing my alma nater: “I got into Georgetown, like I wanted.”

Interesting facts: (1) Election was #9 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 50 Best High School Movies.  (2) The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, and a Golden Globe nomination for Witherspoon in the Best Actress category.

7. Higher Learning (1995)
In a nutshell: The most valuable learning takes place outside of the classroom.

This movie follows a group of college freshmen as they begin their first semester at Columbus University, where they encounter much more than they expected. Malik is an African-American student with a track scholarship who is confident that his athletic abilities will earn him a free ride through college. There’s Fudge, a “professional student” who has been at Columbus for six years (and counting), and Professor Phipps, a black political science professor, who challenge Fudge’s views about race and politics in America.  Other characters include Kristen, a naive young woman from California, who becomes a victim of date rape, and Remy, a confused young man from Idaho who feels lost in Columbus’ multi-cultural atmosphere. There are few greater films that tackle issues of race, ethnicity, class, culture, gender, and feminism quite so poignantly.

Interesting fact: This movie has a really dynamic cast – Omar Epps (House), Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind), Laurence Fishburne (Matrix), Regina King (Ray), Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, Michael Rapaport, Tyra Banks, Bridgette Wilson (Billy Madison), Adam Golberg

8. Coach Carter (2005)
In a nutshell:
Success is achieved through determination, dedication, and discipline

Coach Carter is based on the true story of Ken Carter, a successful sporting goods store owner who accepts the job of basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA, where he was a champion athlete. Appalled by the players poor attitudes and dismal grades, Carter sets about to change both. He imposes a strict regime and requires his players to follow a dress code, get good grades, and behave respectfully. Coach Carter is determined to show the boys that they need to rely on more than sports for their futures; eventually he finds he has affected them more profoundly than he ever expected.

Interesting fact: All over the internet, this beautiful Maryanne Williamson quote featured in the movie is wrongly attributed to  Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? …”

9. Van Wilder (2002)
In a nutshell:
Don’t be a fool, stay in school!

Van Wilder is an outgoing, friendly, and extremely popular student who has been in college for seven years. He has made no effort to graduate,  instead spending his time organizing parties and “fundraisers.” But after seven years, Van’s father decides to stop paying tuition. Meanwhile, Gwen who writes for the college paper, is tasked with doing a story on him, but Van is so busy partying so she instead writes it using interviews from other people. When she is asked to write another piece Van interprets her attempts to schedule interviews as romantic advances and her boyfriend takes personal offense at Van’s attempts to steal his girlfriend. A rivalry develops between the two men and the rivalry grows as they perform increasingly disgusting pranks on each other.

Interesting fact: Michael Olowokandi, Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson, and Lamar Odom, who were all players on Coolidge’s basketball team, were real life teammates at the time in the NBA on the LA Clippers.

10. Road Trip (2000)

In a nutshell:
Even when things seem to go disastrously wrong, there are lessons to be learned and fun to be had.

Josh and Tiffany have been together since they were kids. Enter Beth, a sexy blonde going to college with Josh. One night, Josh and Beth hook up and make a videotape the same day that Josh plans to mail a video to Tiffany of him talking about college life. The wrong tape gets sent, forcing Josh, along with a few pals, to go to Austin, where Tiffany is, and stop her from seeing the tape. As with all road trips, it’s not getting there that matters, but what happens along the way.

Interesting fact: A direct-to-video sequel called Road Trip: Beer Pong was released on August 11, 2009.

Runners up:
American Pie
Good Will Hunting
Rules of Attraction

Did we leave out your favorite college movie? Let us know in the comments!