Six myths from movies about going to university in the US

College life in the US is often the subject of many teen movies. However, sometimes the portrayal of US universities is less than realistic, so we’ve decided to bust some of those myths presented by college films

September 5 2018
6 myths about US universities

When considering going to university in the US, a good (and easy) place to start with your research is to watch some films. However, while US university life is often depicted in movies, it’s safe to say that many of them take creative license and portray college life in an unrealistic fashion.

From bursting into song on campus to making up your own university, here are some of the myths put forward by Hollywood that you probably shouldn't base your decision on. 

However, from each film there are some lessons that you can take and apply to your university life. And don’t worry. We can help you find those too. 

1. You’ll be forever bursting into song on campus… Pitch Perfect

There are many things about the Pitch Perfect films that are actually quite accurate about going to college. The struggle to fit in, the abundance of societies available, the parental pressure to go to university. However, one thing that certainly isn’t is the a cappella singing that happens regularly on campus.

While fun, it is unlikely that, if you burst into a rendition of I Will Survive, your fellow students will join in with perfect harmonies and dance moves to match. Refrain from that if you don’t want to be written about in the student newspaper. 

One thing Pitch Perfect does portray brilliantly is how much you can gain from joining a society. Although the girls begin as a group of misfits thrown together, they end up becoming best friends and enriching their university experience because of it.  

2. Getting into Harvard Law School is a breeze… Legally Blonde

While her determination and grit is to be admired, it’s worth taking a more realistic approach to your application to Harvard Law School, and perhaps not submit a video of you in a swimming pool. Although she does do well in her admission test (LSAT), her video "essay" may not be exactly what the admissions team at Harvard would be looking for in real life. While a creative approach may work well, going too left-field with your application could have the opposite effect. 

But something you certainly should take away from Legally Blonde is that hard work and determination can go a long way and that you should never listen when someone tells you that you aren’t good enough to do something.

6 myths to bust about going to university in the US

3. If you don’t get into university, you can make up your own… Accepted

In the 2006 comedy Accepted, Bartleby Gains (played by Justin Long) doesn’t get into any of the universities that he applies to. To fool his dad he creates a made-up college, complete with a website and a fake dean. This, however, backfires when hundreds of students start enrolling online and Bartleby has to keep up the charade and allow those students to keep believing the school is real.

It is eventually revealed that the university is fake, but in a bizarre twist of events Bartleby is allowed to run the university for a year-long probationary period.

Bartleby’s impassioned speech at the end, in which he speaks about how the traditional education system doesn’t cater to the talents of everyone, is certainly a message to take from this film. And it shows that if you don’t get into the universities of your choice, there are other paths you can take. 


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4. Disparaging your fellow students online will lead to a billion-dollar company… The Social Network

Let’s face it. Mark Zuckerberg’s experience of going to university was a pretty atypical one – from starting a business, to falling out with his business partners, to dropping out before finishing his degree.

However, one of the most concerning parts of The Social Network and Zuckerberg’s story is that one thing which set his involvement with Facebook in motion was his setting up of a site rating how hot girls were on campus. And that is definitely not OK.

At no point should you ever say anything disparaging about a fellow student or faculty member. It will only backfire against you. 

However, if you do end up having a brilliant business idea while at university, now is the best time to put the wheels in motion and start developing it. You never know where it could lead you. 

6 myths to bust about going to university in the US

5. Your roommate will obsessively stalk you… The Roommate

There’s always some apprehension when you head to university about what your new university roommate will be like. Will they be messy? Will they be loud? Will they clip their toenails straight onto the floor?

While you might not necessarily get on with your roommate, try to remember after watching The Roommate that it is unlikely they will become obsessed with you and destroy everyone around you in order to be your friend. 

One thing to find comfort in if you do find yourself sharing a room with an incompatible roommate is that they will never be as bad as this. And if your roommate does start behaving in a concerning way, it’s best to speak to someone about it as soon as you can. 

6. A bad attitude will get you far in a team… Drumline

Set in a historically black university, Drumline tells the story of Devon, a gifted drummer who joins his university’s marching band. However, his attitude and arrogance eventually lead to his dismissal from the marching band and losing the girl he likes. Having an expanded ego is usually frowned upon in team sports. 

What we can learn from this film is that you gain so much more when you become a team player. No matter how talented you are, it is always important to remember that it takes a whole team to achieve success. 

6 myths to bust about going to university in the US

Read more: 17 books you should read before (or at) university – chosen by students

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