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6 Graduation Films to Prepare You for Graduation

While graduation is something to look forward to, it can be an event that many undergrads worry about. Not everybody’s graduation experience will be the same, but these films speak to many of the different situations and underlying anxieties that most recent grads will face.

Legally Blonde (2001)

Fashion Merchandising student and sorority member, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), puts all her efforts into getting into Harvard Law school to prove to her ex-boyfriend, Warner, that she is serious enough to be with him. Even though Elle is met with challenges, she realizes that she is worth more than the opinions of Warner and she can make it as a lawyer because of her personal strengths and smarts and not because she’s a pretty woman. While not everyone will be working to get into law school, or another graduate program, Elle’s Harvard graduation speech is sure to motivate soon-to-be-graduates that they can do anything they set their minds to.

Post Grad (2009)

After she is unable to land her dream job, Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) must adjust to living with her parents again after completing her undergraduate degree. Finding a job immediately after graduation isn’t an easy thing to do, and this film addresses the anxieties surrounding post-grad employment. Despite the stresses, the film also shows that landing that dream job isn’t everything. While it can be overwhelming, there are many opportunities after graduation and it’s okay if your initial plans don’t work out the way you thought they would. Who knows, you might even fall in love along the way.

Adventureland (2009)

Set in 1987, recent Arts graduate, James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), has dreams to travel around Europe or apply to the journalism program at Columbia University. Due to unforeseen financial struggles, he is forced to get a part-time job in his hometown at an amusement park. While it wasn’t what he had in mind after graduation, his part time job still leads James to new experiences and new relationships. Not everyone will fall in love with someone while skinny dipping in their pool, but the film is sure to show recent graduates (especially Arts students) that life after graduation is far from conventional and not everybody’s experiences are the same and it’s okay to find your way at your own pace and in your own space.

St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)

The classic brat-pack film follows a recent group of Georgetown University graduates and how they adapt to their post-university lifestyles. The diverse group of friends attempt to navigate new experiences and old relationships all while they try to meet their recent-graduate expectations. Moving on from a familiar lifestyle, such as university, or familiar places, like the St. Elmo’s bar, isn’t an easy task and this film explores just how messy that adjustment can be.

The Graduate (1967)

Recent graduate, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), has earned a graduate degree only to return home to live with his parents without a single idea about what he wants to do. The typical “drifter graduate,” he tries to entertain himself in any way possible, which leads to an affair with the wife of his father’s law partner, Mrs. Robinson. While most recent graduates will not be having a messy love affair, this film does speak to those that are uncertain about their future plans.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

While it’s not a graduation film, and revolves around high school students, John Hughes’ teen classic is applicable to any graduation situation. The infamous line from Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” speaks to the FOMO (fear of missing out) that many soon-to-be-graduates may be feeling about their remaining time at university. Whether you’re excited about going to grad school, getting a job, or going travelling, it’s also important to reflect on the time that you’ve spent university.  

Whether you’re attending grad school, like Elle, or you’re moving back home with no solid plans, like Benjamin, just remember to take every opportunity life throws your way, appreciate every little moment, and don’t forget to enjoy the time that you have left at university.

Congratulations to all the soon-to-be-grads and good luck!

Kailynn studies English Literature and Film Studies at UBC. Her studies are also her passions and she can never finish a novel or televison series before starting a new one. She's currently working on her own writing projects and hopes to publish a novel and develop a feature film screen play in the future! Aside from her love of writing, she also loves to travel - even if it's just a weekend at the lake. You'll most likely find her in one of the library basement's or in line for coffee on campus, but you can always find her on twitter! 
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