I Watched Three College Movies to See How Accurate They Were—Here Are the Results

Long story short, I guess I have a lot of time on my hands. After making it through my first semester of college (cue the applause), I guess I somehow thought I had the knowledge to deem college-centered movies accurate versus not. So that’s what I did. Below are three movies that I watched in their entirety, then mercilessly critiqued and rated on a scale from one to ten in terms of their accuracy. Because that’s what my life is like now. Enjoy.  

 

1. Pitch Perfect

This now-iconic movie is the very first one that I thought of when I was beginning to write this article. Sure, it’s from an entirely a capella-based perspective, which doesn’t necessarily define the average college experience—although, to all the a capella kids out there, I respect your hustle—but still, a popular, entirely-based-upon-the-college experience movie in this day and age is a good find. Here’s what I found accurate versus not so much in this movie. Also, note that I made no a capella related puns when introducing this section of the article. I won’t stoop that low—you’re welcome. 

Accurate:

  • The portrayal of Becca arriving at college: It’s probably an understatement to say that protagonist Becca was none-too-pleased to be starting school. Given the fact that she didn’t feel as though college was the right choice for her future, it makes sense. Honestly, it’s so refreshing to see something other than the sugary, “College is going to be the best four years of my life!” mantra spoken by just about every other movie character. Fact: Not everyone thinks college is right for them. Another fact: Pitch Perfect gets that. I’m full of knowledge today!

  • Roommate placements—kind of. Becca being paired with a girl who refuses to acknowledge her existence and Jesse ending up with a legit magician (albeit a heartwarming one at that) makes for some uncomfortable moments throughout the movie. Here at Kenyon, you can’t choose whose parents you awkwardly have to make small talk with on move-in day, but at other schools, you can, so the whole magician, Kimmy Jin situation would probably not happen elsewhere. However, here, I could totally see situations like this having occurred. So, somewhat realistic in my book. 

  • Two words: Activities Fair. Every college seems to have ‘em, filled with swarms of over-enthusiastic upperclassmen trying their absolute hardest to recruit nervous first years huddled in panicked circles with their orientation-week friends to the most weirdly specific organizations you’ve ever heard of. Pitch Perfect does this wacky process justice.

  • The “aca-initiation” party seems not entirely improbable. Now, I’m not going to speak directly on Kenyon parties, but, it’s fair to say that weird and embarrassing moments like the ones in this scene happen more often than you might think. 

  • Lastly, Becca not having seen The Breakfast Club. It’s a thing. Don’t judge me on my life choices. I’m my own harshest critic. Moving on… 

Not Accurate:

  • Someone like Fat Amy existing. I’m sorry, but if anyone at Kenyon—or any other college in America—has that personality type, please let me know. Some things really do only happen in movies, as unfortunate (or fortunate) as that might be for the rest of us. 

  • The idea that if you go to classes and join a club, your parent(s) will support you abandoning your school at the end of the year and moving across the country to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the music industry. The arrangement that Becca and her dad came to in the movie, while I do respect it, is entirely improbable for most college students. The reality is that college is perceived by almost every parent as the end-all-be-all of having a shot at a successful future, regardless of how true that might be. I doubt that most parents would be willing to make this trade-off, though who knows? My slim, but meaningful, demographic of parent readers, please correct me if I’m wrong.

  • The whole Chloe interrupting Becca in the shower to force her to perform an improv harmonization to David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium” in the nude in the presence of her also-nude boyfriend. If this has happened to anyone at Kenyon (or any other school for that matter), I’m truly sorry. Seek professional help. 

  • The Barden Bellas being forbidden to hook up with anyone from the Treblemakers seems a little questionable to me. I really doubt that any college-level club has the authority—or for that matter, the attention-span or willpower—to prevent college hookups from happening. People, for the most part, mind their business when it comes to this sort of thing at college, and thank goodness for that. 

  • Fraternities do not have fall mixers where a capella groups perform for them. That’s not a thing. At least, as far as I know. A capella groups, discuss amongst yourselves.

  • And last but not least, an abandoned outdoor pool existing, and acapella groups subsequently performing a riff-off in said space. Again, not a thing. I feel like all the weird stuff in this movie has to do with a capella culture, which I admit, I don’t know a ton about. That being said, the pool thing jumps out to me. If any college had that, there would definitely be a group of alumni tossing money at the school to repurpose that thing in no time. Just saying. 

Overall Accuracy Score: 7/10

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2. Legally Blonde: 

So, I know what you’re thinking: this movie is about law school, not college. However, the same principles apply! And, it’s set at Harvard, a.k.a, a college. And, the whole beginning of the movie features Elle as a senior at college. So take that!

Accurate:

  • Elle literally becoming a lawyer just to win back her trash ex-boyfriend. Let’s be real, we all do crazy stuff when we’re in love. Even when these men truly do not deserve it. And clearly, it worked out for Elle, as she ended up being an ultra-successful, high-powered attorney. This is absolutely and unequivocally not to say that you should do anything rash to win back an ex though. Please do not. Most of the time, it does not end up that well… 

  • The sorority stereotype surrounding the girls in Elle’s college sorority. Well—sort of. Let me clarify, I think a lot of the stereotypes around Elle’s sorority sisters are harmful! Which is why you will soon stumble upon the sorority stereotype also being included in my ‘not accurate’ section. So crazy! But, the idea that Elle’s sisters put their lives on hold to help, support, and cheer Elle on when she makes it her dream to attend law school is probably very true for a lot of sorority members out there. We love positive female friendships!

  • The whole meet-and-greet at Elle’s first day at Harvard. You know, the scene where all of those geniuses go around and brag about their achievements in rapid-fire succession. This is not shade at Kenyon, because I actually had a really positive orientation week. However, the stress surrounding meeting new people and attempting to seem both smart and laid-back, cool but approachable, is very real. Elle honestly handled it like a champ. 

  • How it turns out that Warner only got into Harvard because of his wealthy father’s help. I mean, in this day and age (we’ve all read the news stories about a certain Full House cast member), it’s not not realistic.

  • Warner crawling back to Elle at the end of the movie. Yes, many of us have been there, too. It’s a thing that men do. Facts only. 

Not Accurate:

  • Getting into Harvard Law that easily. That’s just not something that happens. Especially when you apply on a whim! And while I love Elle Woods as much as the next person and believe that clearly it was the right move for her, a good test score and application essay are not enough to get into freaking Harvard. All college applicants know this. This is the cold hard truth, coming at you live from Her Campus Kenyon. 

  • Elle being broken up with because she’s not serious enough is kind of hard to picture. Someone as beautiful, genuinely smart, and kind as Elle simply does not get broken up with irl. Especially for such a shallow reason. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking… 

  • The sorority stereotype again. You found it! The portrayal of the girls in Elle’s sorority as being predominantly blonde, ditzy, and unambitious is a harmful one. While I’m sure some sorority girls like this exist out there, I know from experience that most members of sororities are unique and motivated individuals. Legally Blonde, I love you, but you got this one wrong. 

  • Last on this list is the whole plot line of Vivian and her friend being super mean to Elle mostly because they think of Elle as glamorous and vapid. Hollywood is constantly creating drama between female characters centered around the characters’ looks, and that is just not something that I’ve seen at college, or even high school for that matter (and that’s saying something). Feuds between women at college are rare, from what I’ve gathered, and not this petty. Movies need to get new plotlines already! Women can have opinions that don’t surround tearing other women down, especially on the basis of looks. Do better. 

Overall Accuracy Score: 7/10

3. Monsters University

I bet you’re shocked to see this one on the list. And while I could go on and on about how it’s criminally underrated, now available on Disney+, and even better than the original Monsters Inc. (sorry, not sorry), I’ll keep it brief. This cinematic, college-centered masterpiece needs to be discussed. 

Accurate:

  • The first week of school, surprisingly, was very accurate. You know, despite it being a movie about monsters going to college just to learn how to scare innocent children to fuel energy to power their monster world. Mike taking a picture for his ID card, moving into his dorm room and meeting his (later evil) roommate, preparing for his first day of classes and immediately learning about a terrifying final exam—all things that happen. Monsters University, I love you. 

  • Sulley being naturally talented but woefully underprepared for classes and instead focused on socializing and parties. Unfortunately, I have met a lot of people who fit this stereotype. Which isn’t a terrible thing, I guess, but, come on people! Live up to your potential. Thrive academically and socially, if you have the means to. The world is your oyster!

  • Fraternity members doing dumb stuff. There, I said it. Again, this is not necessarily about Kenyon, but the whole idea of literally stealing a live animal in order to win a fraternity’s respect and get invited to parties is somewhat accurate… not naming names. 

  • Getting kicked out of school for not doing well on exams is again, a real thing. This movie covering the crippling fear of failing college was a bold move for an animated children’s movie, but it paid off handsomely. I mean, it got itself featured in this article, so big risk, bigger reward. 

  • A fraternity house being situated in one of the member’s mom’s homes is likely a thing, too. Not at Kenyon, considering fraternity housing here is very different than most schools, much to my friends from home’s confusion. But I’d put money on the idea of some guy named Chad begging his mom to let his thirty rowdy pals move in for the year. 

  • The movie features a Greek life mixer. Again, a bold move! But again, true to college.

Not Accurate:

  • The whole, like, monsters scaring people thing. See above. 

  • Taking a bus to your first day at college? Mike does this in one of the first scenes of the movie, and it both confuses and saddens me. No one comes to help him move in! And taking what looks to be a local bus makes me feel like he lives extremely close to the school. And in that case, wouldn’t he want to live at home instead of a dorm, since it would save him literally thousands of dollars? I have so many questions… 

  • The dean of your school randomly dropping in on your class and scaring you is not really something I could picture at any college. Most deans do not have the free time on their hands to scare a bunch of first-years. And if they do, I’m not sure I’d want to go to a school where that was their priority. 

  • Mike making a wager with the actual dean of the school to win a fraternity-led competition in order to be qualified enough to regain admission to a prestigious university is… absurd. If this kind of thing happened on the regular, it would be chaos. Chaos!

  • The school having a library… @ Kenyon 

  • The scene where the rival fraternity sends out embarrassing photos of Mike and Sulley’s fraternity to the whole campus is something that I just truly cannot envision occurring in real life. Movies are always featuring the ‘popular kids’ somehow having the time and resources to either print out about a billion photos capturing some niche incident or, better yet, send out a group text to the entire school about said niche incident. Real talk, no one cares enough to start a genuine hate campaign against some random college freshmen. No one. 

  • And finally, the monster thing. Again. Just because I don’t want it to seem like I’m crediting Monsters University for finally truly capturing the college experience. I’m not. At least, I don’t think?

Overall Accuracy Score: 5.5/10

Coming in first place is… Pitch Perfect! Unfortunately, Monsters University faltered, and didn’t make the cut, finishing in last. Must have something to do with the whole monster thing…