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Heading off to college? We know you’ve got a long to-do list to cross off before move-in day, but before you pack your bags and head off to school, be sure to check out these six must-see movies! From road-trip comedies to heartfelt stories of friendship, these six films are an essential part of your college prep.   

1. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)


In this movie, Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts), a liberal graduate student, takes a job teaching art history at Wellesley College, a conservative women’s college. In the traditionalist milieu of the 1950s, Watson inspires her students to reevaluate their priorities and to aspire to something greater than marriage and domestic life.

This film about a life-changing class with an extraordinary teacher is the perfect preface to your freshman year. Although it’s set in 1953, this notion of a college professor changing students’ lives rings true today. Who will be your Ms. Watson?

2. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)


When four best friends have to leave one another for the summer, they rely on a miraculous pair of pants—a pair of jeans that somehow fits all four of them—to hold their friendship together. By sending the pants to one another, they keep one another close despite their distance. 

This movie is the ultimate finale to your friends’ going-away sleepover. A testament to the power of friendship and the possibility of maintaining bonds overseas, this film is the perfect end to one last night of baked goods and guy talk with your high-school besties.

3. Accepted (2006)


This portrayal of college life defies all standards. When high-school prankster Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) doesn’t get into a single university he applied to, he refuses to bow his head. Instead, he makes up his own college: the South Harmon Institute of Technology, also known as S.H.I.T.

This comedy follows the far-from-average adventures of Bartleby and his friends as they create their “ideal” university experience. While your school probably won’t be offering classes like telekinesis, this movie offers a compelling—and entertaining—take on the college experience.

4. The House Bunny (2008)


When former Playboy Playmate Shelley Darlington (Anna Faris) gets kicked out of the Playboy Mansion, she makes her way down to a nearby college’s sorority row, befriending the unpopular, not-so-girly ladies of the Zeta Alpha Zeta house. She teaches them her tricks to landing campus cuties, and they help her impress her nerdy crush.  Hilarious and heartwarming, this movie is a future-sorority-girl favorite.

5. Animal House (1978)


Despite being set in 1962, this quintessential college film tells a timeless story about an unpopular fraternity’s mission to wreak havoc on their school and its antagonistic dean. After getting rejected from the coveted frat on campus, Lawrence “Larry” Kroger (Tom Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) turn to the Delta Tau Chi house, embarking on a series of hilarious adventures in an effort to save it from expulsion. This classic is a must-see for incoming college freshmen (and everyone else!).

6. Good Will Hunting (1997)


Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a young janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a genius with a talent for mathematics. When Professor Gerald Lambeau chances upon Hunting solving an immensely difficult equation, he takes him under his wing and encourages him to turn his life around.

This award-winning story about a young man recognizing his talents and coming to know himself is a must-see. It will inspire you to follow your talents and reach your potential, making it a perfect movie to watch before college.

 

Watching these six films is a great way to usher in your college career. Whether it’s a story about friendship or a life-altering experience, each of these movies has something to share about the possibilities of college life. 

Brooke is a rising sophomore at Columbia University and a lover of travel, coffee & tea, running, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. 
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