Top 10 films about college

Mainstream movies about college experiences we can all relate to.


Part of the fun about movies comes from the viewers' ability to relate to what they are watching. As current or former college students, there are plenty of relatable movies to choose from, for better or for worse.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists 525 movies with the university tag. If instead you were to search the entire online database using the keyword college, you would end up with an exhaustive list of 1,374 titles to sort through. Alternatively, if you and your friends feel the sudden itch to watch a college-themed movie, try using search terms such as coming of age, exam, professor, fraternity, parties, regrettable mistakes (you get the idea).

So what makes a "college movie" a college movie?

The quintessential movie about college should include in its characters, plot and setting, elements that are familiar to any viewer who has attended college. Like their counterparts in the high school movie genre, these movies offer up a slice of life during a person's most formative years.

Enlarge Image Enlarge image
An iconic still from The Graduate. (Source:

College movies will often transcend an assortment of film genres, from lowbrow (albeit fun) moments depicted in comedies, to heavy-hearted, realistic scenes portrayed in dramas, as well as all those uncategorizeable moments in between one typically experiences in his or her early adulthood.

The criteria

Although there are many movies out there that deal with the concept of college life in some way, shape or form, the films chosen here deal with college life directly. These films do not simply have the college or university campus as their backdrop, nor do they have characters that simply go to college.

Instead, the college motif is apparent throughout the scenes in these films, and it is the spirit of college life (whatever that may mean to each individual viewer) that carries these films.


The list

Arranged in chronological order:

1. The Graduate (1967) - Technically a film about one's experiences after college, this cinematic classic explores the big question new college graduates everywhere face.

2. National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) - Toga! Toga! Toga! Toga! Toga! Toga! T...

3. Revenge of the Nerds (1984) - The nerds on campus start the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity and aim to settle the score with the campus jocks.

4. Rudy (1993) - The story of underdog Daniel Ruetteger and his dreams of playing football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the '70s.

5. With Honors (1994) - A Harvard senior's thesis ends up in the hands of a homeless man living on campus, who only returns a few pages at a time upon negotiating certain terms.  The homeless man is played by Joe Pesci. What more do you need?

6. Good Will Hunting (1997) - A genius working as a janitor on campus is "discovered" and experiences dramatic changes as he re-evaluates his life and potential.

7. Wonder Boys (2000) - An English professor/writer struggles as the lives of his students and others are interwoven with his personal and professional life.

8. The Rules of Attraction (2002) - Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis (of American Psycho fame), the narratives of three hedonistic college students are explored at an "End of the World" party.

9. Old School (2003) - Three men experiencing mid-life crises decide to re-live their glory days in college by forming a fraternity of their own. "We're going streaking!" - Frank the Tank

10. The Social Network (2010) - The story of how the most popular social networking site in the world had its beginnings in a Harvard dormitory. 


Honourable mention

National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002) - A slacker in his seventh year in college does his best to never graduate and face the real world.


Dishonourable mention

How High (2001) - Rappers Redman and Method Man go to Harvard.



Are your favourite movies about college not listed here? Feel free to leave some suggestions or even your own top 10 list in the comments section.


Leave a comment

All comments are moderated. Posts containing personal attacks, libellous statements, knowingly false information, or vulgar, degrading or threatening language will be rejected.


Email (required, will not appear):


smiley Smileys

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below: