6 TV Shows That Depict the College Experience (for Better or for Worse)

If you’re anything like me, your Netflix account has become your best friend during your post-secondary experience. You’re probably all too familiar with the fact that streamable television is both a blessing and a curse. And though it can be a distraction sometimes (okay, most of the time), it’s also a great tool for taking a break from the stress of school. As a gift to my fellow students, I have compiled a list of binge-able TV shows that take place in a college setting for a least one season. Next time you need a time out from studying, you can check out one of these relatable glimpses of college life.


Community (2009-2015)

NBC’s Community is an unconventional sitcom about a group of adults who form a study group–and an unexpected friendship–in their eccentric community college. The study group of outcasts is formed by an egotistical ex-lawyer, a scatter-brained activist, a pop culture geek, a former high school football star, an overachiever, a religious single mother, and an inappropriate elderly millionaire. The nerd-centric comedy follows the group as they encounter the “college experience” late in life. The group runs into some typical (and not-so-typical) college conundrums, including having to deal with their wacky dean and odd professors. This show is a great study break binge for when you need a good laugh.

Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon, iTunes

Dear White People (2017-)

The 2017 Netflix original, Dear White People, is not afraid to tackle the big issues as it follows a group of students of colour who attend a largely white-populated college. Dear White People takes a look at social justice issues, primarily racism, both in their obvious forms and in microaggressions. The story begins with the students of Winchester University dealing with the backlash of a blackface-themed costume party that was held on campus, mirroring a similar controversy that took place at Queen’s University in Kingston in 2016. The show proves that the issues of anti-blackness are very prevalent in colleges all over North America. If you want to watch something that’s as relatable as it is educational, Dear White People is the show for you.

Where to watch: Netflix

Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)

From the anxiety of applying to colleges to the stress of finding a job after graduation, the show follows Rory Gilmore’s entire college career. In Gilmore Girls, ivy league heartbreaker Rory deals with the highlights and the struggles of the college experience, from the anxiety of the first night away from home, to juggling a boyfriend, school work, and extracurricular activities. This 00s dramedy which centers around Rory’s relationship with her young mother Lorelai will definitely make you feel all the “feels.”

Where to watch: Netflix

How to Get Away with Murder (2014-)

Shonda Rhimes’ How to Get Away with Murder (HTGAWM) follows a group of law students who find themselves in danger when a girl from their college is murdered. The show follows the group of young adults as they experience college life – though their experience is slightly more murderous than the average college student’s. Under the authority of their law professor and mentor, renowned lawyer Annalise Keating, the students navigate their way through both typical and not-so-typical college predicaments. With all the ingredients of a Shondaland drama, HTGAWM always finds a way to shock the audience with each new episode.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes

A Different World (1987-1993)

A spinoff of the beloved sitcom The Cosby Show, A Different World follows Denise Huxtable, daughter of Cliff and Clair, as she navigates “a different world”–the predominantly black Hillman College. In its six seasons of air time, A Different World managed to tackle a variety of issues from racism to sexual assault in a college setting. Though times have changed in the 30 years since the show first aired, much of the content on A Different World is still relevant to the lives of college students in 2017. If you love The Cosby Show, be sure to check out this hilarious yet heartwarming series.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Undeclared (2001-2002)

From the producers of cult-classic Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, though short-lived, was just as clever and charming as its predecessor. Starring now-renowned comedy icons Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, and Jay Baruchel, among others, Undeclared follows a group of six college freshmen at the fictional University of Northeastern California. From college friendships and romance to the anxieties of settling on a major, Undeclared depicts the American college experience in a way that’s relevant, even 15 years later. This cult classic is sure to make you laugh with its witty one-liners and great line-up of guest stars (including comedy legends like Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller).

Where to watch: Select streaming sites