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20 Must-See College Movies

Sidesplitting, serious and downright silly – these college flicks have it all.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

October 22, 2020

Binge-watch the best college movies of all time -- after you study, of course.
20 Must-See College Movies
Sidesplitting, serious and downright silly – these college flicks have it all. Sure, they tend to exaggerated college life but they are, in fact, movies. And, as some that has graduated from college, I can watch any of these movies and they bring back fond memories of the good ol’ days. (Except maybe The Social Network mainly because I’m not a multi-billionaire who invented a life-changing web site platform, but that’s a discussion for another day…) Take a peek at the following list of must-see college movies, regardless of your age, because it will undoubtedly give you something to look forward to, currently appreciate or reminisce. No matter what, you’ll certainly be entertained! Sit back, relax and enjoy the following list of 20 must see college films (in no particular order):

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1. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

Starring John Belushi, this frat-tastic, uproarious classic takes places at a 1962 college, where the Delta Tau Chi Fraternity leads a rebellion against their college’s uptight dean whose number one goal is to take away their charter. It’s basically timeless and is considered by many to be THE college movie of college movies.

2. National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002)

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Van Wilder is the most popular kid on campus, perhaps because he’s been there so long – seven years. He’s had a sweet college life due to his wealthy father but when dad decides to cut him off, Wilder starts a campaign to raise the funds to stay in school. However, when he meets a journalist interested in his story, she helps him realize he may just be afraid to graduate. The movie stars Ryan Reynolds and Tara Reid.

3. Good Will Hunting (1997)

In this Oscar winning film, an MIT janitor is a gifted mathematician who is guided by a psychologist to find the right path. Matt Damon originally wrote the script, and Ben Affleck developed the screenplay. The two then starred in the film along with Robin Williams.

4. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

On a college campus where Greek life rules, the “outcasts” unite to join a fraternity. Since the jock frats and similar sororities have bullied them, the campus misfits grow determined to unite and take action to gain back their self-respect. It’s a tale that makes viewers root for the underdog to take back the glory!

5. Old School (2003)

It’s all about the glory days when three 30-something dudes open up a fraternity close to the college they graduated from in an attempt to reclaim their youth – and then start accepting pledges. This film is filled with some of the funniest people in Hollywood, like Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Piven, and Luke Wilson.

6. The House Bunny (2008)

Playboy bunny, Shelley, is kicked out of the mansion and becomes a house mother at a socially awkward sorority. Hilarity ensues. The movie stars Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, and Emma Stone. There is, of course, a cameo by Hugh Hefner as well.

7. 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. Justin Timberlake plays a small role in the movie and stars alongside Jesse Eisenberg and Mara Rooney.

8. Legally Blonde (2001)

A stereotypical blonde sorority girl is dumped by her boyfriend and decides to follow him to Harvard Law School to win him back. While at Harvard, she surprises herself and others by proving she is much smarter than people give her credit for – and uses it to her legal advantage. Perhaps one of the most iconic movies of all time (and Reese Witherspoon’s most iconic role, to date), it stars Luke Wilson and Selma Blair, alongside Witherspoon.

9. Kicking and Screaming (1995)

Post-graduation, a group of college students grow nostalgic for their college days and debate what to do with their post-college lives. An artistic, witty film, Kicking and Screaming depicts the struggle many students experience when trying to discover the right path following graduation. Notable stars in this college film are Josh Hamilton and Parker Posey.

10. Real Genius (1985)

Dated as this film may be, it’s still pretty awesome and stars Val Kilmer. A high school student is recruited by a famous professor to work on an important research project regarding laser technology (that’s part of the dated issue) after his science fair project makes an important discovery. The young student becomes roommates with a college senior, who happens to be a legend on campus because he’s a genius, though he’s lost focus in his studies. The two roommates begin to suspect the famous professor is up to no good and team up to save the day.

11. Pitch Perfect (2012)

College, campus rivals and…song? Pitch perfect follows a collegiate, all-female singing group struggling to get back their sound and beat their campus rival, the all-male group. The film stars real-life friends Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, and Rebel Wilson. Plus, who doesn’t melt into a puddle every time Ben Platt sings?

12. Higher Learning (1995)

The meaning of a college education is confronted through the stories of people from different walks of life, racial tensions and difficult tales of rape, drama and adult responsibilities. This film stars Omar Epps, Kristy Swanson, and Oscar-winner, Jennifer Connelly.

13. Accepted (2006)

After being rejected by every school he applies to, a high school student who doesn’t want to disappoint his parents decides to create his own college. Once he invents a school, other students who found themselves in similar situation, rejected from all of the colleges they applied to, begin to apply and his scheme turns into a full-blown scandal. Check out Justin Long, Jonah Hill, and Blake Lively in this movie.

14. Drumline (2002)

A Harlem street drummer, played by Nick Cannone, gets recruited to play in a band at a Southern university by a band director, achieving a scholarship to attend the school. The new recruit causes tension causing the viewer to question typical social roles and, as a result, the film makes band “geeks” come across as cooler than ever. This film also stars Zoe Saldana.

15. The Waterboy (1998)

A hilarious story of a middle-aged college football water boy suddenly discovers a talent for tackling after a bout of rage. He then achieves a scholarship to play football, shocking everyone who doubted him. There are so many random jokes, as in most pre-Little Nicky Sandler movies, that it’s worth multiple viewings. It really makes you miss the funny Adam Sandler days. Sigh.

16. 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. 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. This film features a star-studded female cast, which includes Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Ginnifer Goodwin.

17. Road Trip (2000)

This raunchy comedy follows a college student who takes his two college buddies and a reluctant acquaintance (who is necessary because he’s the one with a car) on a road trip from New York to Texas in hopes to save his long-distance relationship. Plus, it was made when Tom Green was at his peak of hilarity. The film also stars Breckin Meyer, Sean William Scott, and Amy Smart.

18. Rudy (1993)

What’s not to love about the inspiring and true story of a college football underdog turned hero? It’s the story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, an undersized kid from a blue-collar family who gets the chance of a lifetime from a football coach – to play for the University of Notre Dame – after years of determination and hard work on the practice squad. The film stars Sean Astin and Jon Favreau.

19. Eurotrip (2003)

It’s pretty much the same plot as Road Trip and falls under the category of “forgettable but fun teen comedies,” but those have value, too. Also, it had to be on the list simply because the song, “Scotty Doesn’t Know” resulted from the making of the film. And that song is awesome. And we hate to ruin a good surprise – but Matt Damon makes a guest appearance.

20. Monsters University (2013)

It technically may be created for children but viewers of all ages love watching the relationship develop between Mike and Sulley during their years at Monsters University. From Disney and Pixar, this film is a prequel to Monsters, Inc. We only made a list of 20 films this time but would love to hear more college movie suggestions from you! Let us know which movies you'd add to the list!

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