Class of 2020 is now on cruise-control till the Fall and Class of 2021 is raring up to go. But mostly importantly, ITS SUMMER VACATION TIME! So we figured, this is a great time to revisit some popular portrayals of the process that teach us what we can take away from applying to college. For those looking to fill up time AND for those applying to college who want to be reassured they are not alone, check out this list!
1. Admission (2013)
The well-ordered life of a Princeton admissions officer falls apart when she learns that one of her applicants may be the son she gave up for adoption.
What this movie teaches us: The admissions officers are also normal people like us. They work very hard in order to recruit a diverse and dynamic freshman class year after year, looking for not just the top scorers but also, the right “school fit”. They look for students are the most likely to succeed within and contribute to the specific community.
But the fact is that sometimes this works out, and sometimes it doesn’t, which means the admissions counselor, not just the student, is often very disappointed by an unfavorable decision. Still, there is no secret formula for getting in.
2. History Boys (2006)
“We won’t be examined on that, will we sir?” To get into Oxford or Cambridge, eight bright but mischievous working class students work hard to study for the notorious exams that act as the gatekeepers to England’s elite colleges.
The film is bawdy and irreverent, but it portrays the arduous amount of dedication it takes to study for college entrance examinations. Whether it’s the ACT or the SAT or the infamous Oxbridge examinations, this movie will make you laugh and bolster your courage to study — and hope for eccentric teachers like Mrs. Lintott and Hector.
What this movie teaches us: Take a class to prepare for your college entrance examination. You’ll learn how to ace the test as well as meet new people — both teachers and classmates.
3. Orange County (2002)
“We regret to inform you that your application to Stanford University was not accepted.” If the college application process redeems itself through you actually getting accepted into your first choice, Orange County is about the sting of rejection.
Shaun wants to be a writer. Shocked into finding a purpose for his life after his best friend Lonny is killed in a surfing accident, Shaun decides that Stanford is the best place to go to be a writer. When he discovers his guidance counselor sent the wrong transcripts, Shaun is determined to rectify the situation.
We won’t spoil the ending, but the film asks us to think about the successes and failures in how we line up what we want to be with where we want to go to school.
What this movie teaches us: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Apply to more than one school.
4. The Social Network (2010)
The Oscar winning story of Harvard student Mark Zuckerburg and the creation of the social networking site, Facebook, along with the legal dramas that followed by fellow students who claimed he stole their idea.
This recent film takes us into the mind of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whose world-spanning creation began humbly in a Harvard dorm.
What this movie teaches us: Besides several management lessons learnt through the movie, it was internesting to observe that regardless of all the partying, football, murder, and mayhem on this list, this film is a keen reminder of how college students have the potential to effect the entire world.
5. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
Set at Wellesley College in the 1950s, a progressive professor attempts to teach her female students, through art, that marriage doesn’t have to be their ultimate life achievement.
What this movie teaches us: While many of the same issues don’t apply to modern day, it demonstrates the impact that one teacher can have on a student and how much college can change one’s future.
6. The Perfect Score (2004)
The film focuses on a group of six high school students whose futures will be jeopardized if they fail the upcoming SAT exam. They conspire to break into the ETS building and steal the answers to the exam, so they can all get perfect scores. The film deals with the themes of one’s future, morality, individuality, and feelings.
What this movie teaches us: a perfect SAT score does not a perfect life make, seems a valuable life lesson.
7. Acceptance (2006- Movie available only on YouTube)
ACCEPTANCE tells the true story about a scholar from India who lies about getting into Harvard. It brings audiences into the world of elite international schools, VIP night clubs and the college admissions rat-race.
High school senior Rohan Patel, an under-privileged scholar from India, seems like the perfect college applicant. He’s President of 5 clubs, has a 4.0 GPA and a 2400 on the SAT. He believes the secret to acceptance rests in compromising his identity to match what each Ivy League School appears to “want” out of its applicants.
However, on college results day, Rohan is faced with a slew of rejections. Unable to cope with his failure, he lies to his friends, family and teachers about getting into the Harvard class of 2014.
The lie quickly spirals out of control and Rohan is forced to confront his hidden failures.
What this movie teaches us: One has to bear the consequences of his actions and learn to feel comfortable accepting himself. And turns out, being yourself is the best thing you can be.
8. Good Will Hunting (1997)
The film that put Ben Affleck and Matt Damon on the map, Good Will Hunting is a tale of a janitor who has a secret gift for mathematics. The film explores the boundaries between academics and those from blue-collar backgrounds, something which Damon’s character struggles with as he learns he has to leave his neighborhood and best friend behind–something all students and grads can relate to.
What this movie teaches us: Education can come from everywhere. But… a classroom can also teach you many things life can’t. So long as you’re willing to learn from everything and everyone around you.
9. Rudy (1993)
“My whole life people have been telling me what I could and couldn’t do. I’ve always listened to ‘em, believed in what they said. I don’t want to do that anymore.”
Getting into the University of Notre Dame is Rudy Ruettiger’s dream. After being told he is too small to play football, and lacking the grades he needs to get in, Rudy enrolls in the local Catholic community college to boost his grades.
A transfer study success story, Rudy works hard to get on the team. After sacking a player in the final play against Georgia Tech, Rudy becomes the only Fighting Irish to be carried off the field by his teammates.
What this movie teaches us: Didn’t get the grades you needed to get into a competitive school? Apply to a nearby community college and work hard to get the grades you need to transfer.
10. Real Women Have Curves (2002)*
“Write about something you know.” Struggling to write a personal statement portion of her college application, Ana’s teacher Mr. Guzman urges her to tap into her personal experience to craft her essay. While giving practical advice to be genuine, the film chronicles Ana’s struggle to find her own voice.
Ana gets accepted into Columbia University with a full scholarship. But as a first-generation Mexican American in East Los Angeles, Ana is expected to work in her family’s textile factory. Conflicted by the obligation she feels she owes to her family, Ana uses the summer after her high school graduation to discover what she really wants to do.
What this movie teaches us: Many students struggle with the admission essay. It’s meant to be a challenge. Do some soul searching and aim for authenticity.
*Honorable Mention: Spanglish! Similar idea, different movie.
Are we missing any movies on our list? Let us know!