College is a different experience for everyone. Some of us join a ton of school clubs, and some don’t. Some of us go to parties every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night – some don’t. Some of us attend class, while some of us sleep through our alarms a lot. However you choose to tackle college is your own decision, but there are just some things about college that are pretty universal. Most universities have application deadlines well before the end of fall semester. You’re most likely going to share a very tiny room with a random person you’ve never met before. You’ll probably even go on an awesome spring break trip at some point.
It seems like TV shows and movies take these commonalities and, for whatever reason, twist them into something they’re not. Of course, we all love when our favorite characters go to college. We’ll never get enough of watching Rory go to Yale or Elle Woods kick butt and Harvard. We’ll laugh no matter how many times a fraternity throws a party that goes wrong. But we have to admit, these portrayals of the college experience are nothing like the actual experience.
16. Legally Blonde
It’s not like we don’t appreciate everything that Legally Blonde has to offer. Elle is the epitome of female empowerment (who works their butt off to get into law school just to tell their ex to suck it?), and we genuinely love watching her in action.
But it doesn’t change the fact that you probably can’t just ace History of Polka Dots, decide one day that you want to go to law school, study for a few weeks, pass the LSAT and get into Harvard. That’s just not how it works. People study for months just to barely pass the LSAT with the score they want. They take classes to challenge their critical thinking skills and better their chances of passing. Also, can we talk about that admissions tape? We have a feeling that lounging around in a bikini wouldn’t fly as an acceptable way of saying, “Hey Harvard! Admit me!”
Nobody is going to tell you that there aren’t parties in college. That would be a total lie. Neighbors just takes the partying and the tricks to a whole new level. First of all, do these kids even go to class? It seems like they spend all of their time hazing the neighbors to get back at them for calling the police, instead of focusing on… you know… getting any type of degree. Also, most university administrations are tougher on parties (especially when they involve Greek life) than one might think. When the dean says that they have a three strike policy before intervening with punishment, that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that their first strike was burning down their old house. This might sound crazy, but it seems like burning down a house would warrant more of a consequence from the school than just a single strike.
14. Pitch Perfect
In a lot of ways, Pitch Perfect begins as a movie that might be seen as a bit realistic when it comes to college life. From the time she arrives, Beca seems to be unimpressed with all that Barden University has to offer, and in reality, she was probably just super overwhelmed, as so many of us are the first few weeks in college. The noisy activities fair and overbearing tour guide probably didn’t help, either. She meets people from various backgrounds and walks of life. It seems like she’s getting the full first-day-of-college experience. However, that’s pretty much where the realism ends.
Once Beca joins the Bellas, it’s like she joined this weird cult where they’re basically hazed all the time and their whole life revolves around the group. Of course, it’s cool to be dedicated to your organizations, but again… do they ever go to class?
13. Gilmore Girls
Unlike some of these other shows and movies, Gilmore Girls lied to us from the very beginning about what college would be like. Rory applies to college around March, and she gets into every college she applies to — even every Ivy League. Remember when she got a D in English? But she still got into every Ivy League? Interesting (Not that mistakes don’t happen, but a D? Really?).
Also, whose dorm room looks like that? Who drops out for like six months and still graduates on time? Only Rory Gilmore, that’s who. Look, Rory’s college years are great to watch, but it would’ve been nice to have a little more of a realistic portrayal of the college experience.
12. The Vampire Diaries
We really could have just done away with the entire plotline where Elena goes to college, and everyone probably would have been better off. Maybe it’s wrong to call out The Vampire Diaries for being unrealistic, since it’s a show all about the supernatural, but they could have at least tried to make college something like real-life (especially since Elena goes just to feel “normal”). Let’s start with the fact that her major is pre-med, despite the fact that pre-med is not a major. She might be on the pre-med track, but nobody ever just majors in pre-med. Also, this might be going out on a limb, but it seems like focusing on both the supernatural creatures destroying your hometown and medical classes might not actually work out. And again with the dorm rooms. Nobody has dorm rooms that nice and spacious, especially when they’re a freshman!
11. Gossip Girl
Sure, Gossip Girl was full of unrealistic expectations. Chuck and Nate were sitting at bars knocking back whiskey when they were probably 16 years old. Serena and Dan both slept with their teachers and then got married later on, despite sharing a half-brother. But when it got to college, it seemed like the writers just didn’t even want to try for realism anymore.
Remember when Chuck paid someone to take Serena’s SATs for her? And then she went to Columbia? Yeah, we wish. That’s not quite how it works, because 1) you can’t just get out of your college entrance exams like that and 2) she probably wouldn’t thrive at Columbia if she can’t get through the SAT. Also, if the Humphreys were actually as poor as they were made out to be, it seems unlikely that Yale wouldn’t offer Dan any financial aid. Not even loans? Come on.
10. Spring Breakers
Okay, this movie is weird on a lot of levels. It really doesn’t even make any sense, and watching it is a thoroughly confusing experience. But spring break is already a wild experience without all of the added shenanigans that happen in this movie. It’s definitely not the end of the world if you don’t go on a huge trip during spring break, and it’s definitely not worth committing armed robbery. That’s the first red flag. Sure, going to Florida for spring break probably means partying on a beach 24/7. Maybe you even meet some random people and make a few mistakes. However, it just seems a little strange that these four girls had no problems going to a stranger’s home, rolling around in his money, and playing with his guns (even if he did bail you out of jail).
9. 22 Jump Street
It’s impossible to watch 22 Jump Street without laughing. After going undercover as high-school students, Schmidt and Jenko take their talents to college. It definitely makes for some hilarious scenes, but they’re actually pretty unrealistic too. Like, who would believe that these two are 18? Obviously, people of all ages can go to college and earn a degree but those two trying to pass as college freshmen seems a little suspicious. What about Jenko basically walking on to the football team and becoming the star of the school? Sure it happens, but it’s pretty rare that everyone on a college campus even knows your name, let alone is basically obsessed with you. As undercover cops, you’d think they’d want to be a little more convincing.
8. Old School
Like we said, people of all ages go to college and earn degrees. You just don’t usually see people of all ages partying with the 18-year-old freshmen, joining Greek life, or throwing ragers in their off-campus house. Those activities are usually reserved for the 18 to 22-year-old crowd, as unfair as that may be. Granted, they only start their fraternity so that they can remain in their house, and they aren’t actually students… but still. If anything, that makes it even weirder. It seems like finding a new place to live would be much easier than throwing parties and hazing people just to start an illegitimate fraternity.
7. The Roommate
Okay, we get this was a thriller, so it wasn’t exactly hinged on real-life experiences. And it’s totally true that random roommate situations can be weird AF. Living with a complete stranger, with a different upbringing and lifestyle than you is risky, to say the least, and it’s far from the ideal – even if that person winds up being your best friend. You might binge some Netflix shows together, go to some parties side-by-side, and even sign up for the same classes. Anything is possible. Except there’s a pretty low chance your random roommate will be a crazy person who becomes obsessed with you and tries to steal your life. Highly unlikely.
There are many aspects of this show that are totally not realistic when it comes to the college experience, but we’ll start with the clothes that everyone is strutting around campus in. Sometimes it’s nice to dress up for class, but you’ll probably see more people in pajamas during your walk to Astronomy than you’ll see students in high-heels. Also, have we ever stopped to think about the extravagant parties these kids have? Every single one includes a bartender and top-shelf liquor. Now, maybe one of the wealthier fraternities on campus could afford such luxuries, but what college student is spending their money on high-quality, expensive alcohol? None.
5. Animal House
Sororities and fraternities might take some heat every now and then, and it’s often deserved. There are some common practices in Greek life that need to change (at some schools), like hazing for one. But chances are that your dean of students is not at constant war with any organization on campus, including a fraternity or sorority. If a Greek organization is placed on probation, it’s for good reason. The dean makes the decision, and that’s pretty much it. There’s no elaborate plans to take down the dean or verbal sparring matches between the dean and a bunch of students. Also, being a prankster who cares more about dumb feuds with faculty than his grades probably won’t make you super successful, like they become in this film.
4. The Social Network
Yes, it’s ~based on a true story~, but we already know that this flick bends the truth a bit about how Facebook came to be. Hey, that’s movie magic, right? It also tells a story about Harvard, and most other universities for that matter, that is far from true. According to The Social Network, Harvard in 2002 consisted of only rich, white legacy kids with trust funds and fancy dinner parties to attend every night. While this may make up a certain percentage of students at any college, and it’s a definite problem, it’s certainly not the majority – or the story we should be telling if that’s the case. College presents you with diverse people and ideas that challenge you. How could Mark Zuckerberg develop such a universally popular social media platform if he didn’t know how to appeal to people other than himself?
3. The House Bunny
The House Bunny is a hilarious and heartwarming movie. We’ll pay to see Anna Faris make jokes any day. We all love a good underdog story, and this one is about women supporting other women, so it’s especially great. But it paints this picture that sororities are full of either rich snobs or weird losers, and there seems to be no in between. In reality, every sorority on every campus is made up of girls with different looks, interests, and backgrounds. It might seem like nobody goes to class and everyone just parties and hooks up with people, but actually, we’re all trying to graduate. It might not be everyone’s number one priority, but it’s somewhere on the list.
2. Saved by the Bell: The College Years
We loved Saved by the Bell: The College Years because it reunited all of our old faves. We wanted them to stay best friends forever, and we wanted to watch it happen. But how realistic was that, really? College is about new experiences and self-discovery. Rarely do people stay best friends with the people they went to high school with (or all go to college together), because a lot of people change greatly during those four years at university. It’s not bad to form new friendships, and it obviously wouldn’t have made for as great of a show if it were more realistic, but we were rooting for at least a little bit of growth.
1. Scream Queens
Scream Queens was a satirical show that was making fun of all of the common stereotypes associated with sorority life, so we shouldn’t have been thirsting for realism in this show. But it’s also not a new concept to make fun of sororities. And sometimes they took it far past satire and waaaay into the “this could literally never happen” territory. Of course, there’s drama and maybe a little bit of pettiness, you can almost guarantee some Queen Bee will try to run the show, but we can guarantee there are not sorority girls threatening to fry off their maids’ faces in a vat of oil. And that’s just before everything starts hitting the fan.