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Culture > Entertainment

Would These Characters Really Have Gotten Into the Colleges They Went To?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Montclair chapter.

I’m always fascinated with how every teen character in television and film applies to Ivy League colleges and nowhere else. In my opinion, this sets unrealistic standards for the kids watching. These tropes set up the narrative that if you don’t get into a prestigious school, it’s not worth going to college. It’s, “If I don’t get into Yale, I’ll be a failure!”

So, would these characters really have even gotten into these colleges? Let’s discuss.

  1. Serena Van Der Woodsen – Brown University

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Well, yes, because she’s rich. But without the money, no way. Actually, we know from the show that she at least got into Brown, Columbia and Yale. The funny thing is, we never once saw her open a textbook. But because of how privileged she is, I suppose it’s believable that she got in.

2. Dan Humphry – New York University


This one is believable, but still doesn’t entirely make sense. Dan got into Yale, but “settled” for NYU because it was more affordable. Everyone in the real world, though, knows NYU is notorious for its insane tuition and lack of financial aid.

3. Jughead Jones – Yale University

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To be honest, I only watched the first two seasons of Riverdale. The main reason I would say that Jughead’s acceptance into Yale is completely unreasonable is because I never once saw him studying or doing anything that could go on a college application – his life was 100% focused around solving crime with friends.

4. Veronica Lodge – Barnard College

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This makes sense, because she’s rich. Without her money, there’s no way she would have gotten in. Just like Jughead, she was too preoccupied with solving the crimes of Riverdale.

5. Andy Bernard – Cornell University

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Yes, because he’s rich. Again, with no money, there’s no way. He’s nothing special.

6. Troy Bolton – University of California, Berkeley

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Not an Ivy, but a fantastic school. Contrary to popular belief, I think Troy Bolton truly would have gotten into UC Berkeley. Not only was he the star basketball player in his state, but it’s implied he has great grades as he gave the valedictorian speech at his graduation.

7. Spencer Hastings – Georgetown University

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Like most people, I got tired of Pretty Little Liars in its last few seasons. But I can say with confidence that there is no way that Spencer, after years of being stalked and tortured, about a thousand near-death experiences, and 24/7 investigating with her friends throughout high school, that her grades were good enough to get her into Georgetown.

How impressive must these characters’ college essays have been? The truth is, only 7% of people in the world get to go to college at all. Only 0.4% of that 7% goes to Ivy Leagues. Movies and TV shows need to normalize teenagers attending reasonable and affordable colleges, because the truth is, the education is just as good.  Setting unrealistic standards for younger audiences watching these shows is harmful.

What I’ve learned from the college application process is that sometimes acceptances are completely random. Yes, good grades help. And yes, having rich parents is almost a guarantee. But at the end of the day, your acceptance into a prestigious college is really based on luck. You shouldn’t feel inferior based on what college you attend. The education is really all the same.


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Emma Barber

Montclair '23

Emma is a senior at Montclair State University, studying Social Media & Public Relations and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies.