SATIRE: College movies create unrealistic expectations for students

Films portray raging parties, academic success, but this is not truth of life on campus



Films characterizing all colleges as party central set students up for a very different reality.


When I first came to college, fresh out of high school, I think I expected it to be largely the same but with somewhat more difficult work. Some people might expect it to be significantly harder; some might expect there to be parties all the time.

Patty Hatt said when he applied for colleges, he expected every weekend to be a raging pong fest with the students over in Greek Row. Something like “Blue Mountain State” with a twist of wheat fields in the back.

“I was hoping for like, those parties you see in the 80s movies about high school when the parents are away for the weekend, but all the time,” Hatt said. “I watched ‘Dazed and Confused’ while I filled out my applications so I could get in the zone of real college life.”

But the debauchery has limits. Walking down Greek Row in the middle of the day, it just feels like campus. Sure, sometimes it can be noisy. Parties definitely happen. But it hardly seems excessive. 

I left high school fully subscribed to the stigma of Greek Row. I think a lot of my dorm neighbors did, too, considering how many RA visits they had freshman year.

Noise complaints were more common than someone burning food in the microwave. 

There were others of us that refused to conform to the craze of 24-hour parties. I think I was somewhere between having a stick-in-the-mud attitude, being nervous that one night out would start me on an irreversible path of academic decline, and a little bit jealous that some people actually enjoy loud, crowded events.

“I’m sure everyone can imagine my disappointment when I realized that Greek Row sleeps too, sometimes,” Hatt said. “I thought that stepping onto the Row would be like, the Las Vegas of campus or something,” Hatt said. 

Mouvi Mayniyak said her expectations of college as a whole, not just Greek Row, were formulated entirely from film. 

“In movies, there are two flavors. One where you never see students stress about grades. Skipping class? Whatever bro. The other is where students are totally academically focused, never doing anything else. It’s super black and white,” Mayniyak said. 

How are those students in movies so calm all the time? I set five alarms every morning so I could make it to the dining hall before the cinnamon waffle mix was all gone.

In class group chats, I have seen everyone having crises, whether existential, academic or otherwise. 

“My whole expectation for college was really set by what I knew I wanted to get out of it,” Mayniyak said. “I idolized the ‘Legally Blonde’ movies. I knew I would do whatever I had to do to get into law school. Even dye my hair blonde and date the full-of-himself law student.”

Though Mayniyak did get into law school, she took a sharp turn into the field of hospitality and business when she failed her first business law exam. We all have mid-freshman year crises.

Ultimately, it is true that all expectations of college are influenced by the teen-beloved and parent-feared movies that portray college as a chance to take a floatie down to the river every day or finish a keg stand every night. 

Some people even do that. 

High school always says it is preparing you for college and for the real world. A blatant lie, really. You leave that incredibly structured environment — arguably annoyingly structured — and are thrust into academic freedom. 

“High school but harder” feels inaccurate. A land of beer pong and frat parties fail to sum it up properly as well. “Though Blue Mountain State” really is a hilarious show, in the end, the reality of college seems to be far from the made-up sets of Hollywood.