Films exaggerate college experiences, negatively impacting students

College is meant to be the best time in a young person’s life; at least, that’s what it seems like for students in popular movies. Once freshman year arrives, we can’t wait to start recreating the adventures we have seen in Animal House, The House Bunny, Legally Blonde and Pitch Perfect. The list goes on and on. 

As a senior at Geneseo, I’m sorry to reveal that college experiences are rarely like the ones seen in the media. From my experience, it seems that these expectations set by fictional movies make the harsh realities of college all the more painful.

Most college students hope that they’ll fall in love with hot people, make lifelong friends, kiss another gender for fun, reinvent their image and go to raging parties—all while still getting A’s in all their classes because they were built for their majors. 

After three years of unmet expectations, both good and bad, it has become a relief to realize that college is more about doing classwork than trying to find the coolest “open” party (even though they’re never open) or finding the perfect friend group. It is important to remember that you’re in college for a reason, and it isn’t just for the social aspects. At the end of your four years, the most important thing is your degree. Finding the right path for you can be more moving than any party on the weekend. 

Looking back to my freshman year, I wish I did a lot of things differently. I was always inside my own head, thinking of all the fun I could have been having instead of enjoying all the things that made my day better: a yummy sandwich from Books and Bytes or the laugh I shared with a coworker at my work study job. It seems that the expectations set by movies made it feel like the college experience was somehow inadequate. 

National Lampoon’s Animal House gave me a party bug that I’ve never been able to shake off. The House Bunny made me hope to change my image. Legally Blonde made me think I’d be the best in my academic field and still somehow have time to fall in love. Pitch Perfect gave me unrealistic expectations regarding collegiate a cappella, but even worse, it made me think that being a part of a club could solve all my problems. 

That being said, college isn’t a terrible time. I just don’t think it’s all it’s made out to be. I’ve never been to a party as wild as the ones seen in Animal House, but there will be a few fun nights here and there. You’ll wear lanyards with your I.D. around your neck so you don’t lose it without realizing the utter lameness of your fashion choice. You’ll spend late nights in Milne Library with an awkwardly thrown together study group from people you barely know for a class you hate. You’ll spend a lot of time walking to and from Bailey Hall and Southside. 

I can’t claim to know exactly what college is all about; I just know that it isn’t the riotous party shown in the movies. Don’t let these fictional stories control your expectations and make your college experience feel inadequate. This is real life. You just have to do what’s right for you.