While the focus of college is to earn your degree and get your education, there’s more to it than that. It’s also the time to learn about yourself, figure out who you are, and discover the world around you.
So when it comes time to hangout in the dorm watching movies with your friends, we recommend watching a few that might teach you something about life. Introspective and entertaining, here’s our list of the top 9 movies every college student must watch before graduation.
1. Love & Basketball
Starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, this Y2K favorite tells the tale of a boy and a girl who grew up together with dreams of being pro basketball players. Yes, it’s a love story — but it’s more than that.
The story follows the pair from childhood to adulthood, through their high school and college careers. Through their wins and losses on the court we see how they change and how their relationship changes over time. The moral of the story is that we should be open to the changes that come with time – and this film does a great job of telling that tale.
2014’s Whiplash is about a young college musician and his emotionally abusive mentor, played by Academy Award winning J.K. Simmons. It follows a young drummer at a prestigious music school as he navigates the odd and unusual relationship he has with his mentor.
This film shows that hard work might not seem worth it while you’re doing it. But in the end, if you can endure a tough situation, the rewards can be remarkable.
3. The Social Network
There’s a good chance you use Facebook every day – so you may as well watch the movie that tells its story. The Social Network is the true story of Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook, which, in case you don’t already know, began in his Harvard dorm room.
It’s a great movie for college students to watch because it deals with all sorts of issues that college students face on a daily basis. You’ll learn a thing or two about creativity, rebellion, and building a business. You’ll also learn how that can impact your closest friendships.
4. Fight Club
There’s more to Fight Club than a shirtless Brad Pitt (though for some, that is a bonus). With Pitt and the incredible Edward Norton, this 1999 classic tells the story of two men who form an underground fight club. Initially, the club is a way to escape the doldrums of their daily lives. But it also raises questions about materialism and questions societal norms.
5. Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction posters have been hung proudly in college dorm rooms since the movie came out in 1994. It’s Quentin Tarantino’s first and finest film, telling the twisted tale of a series of unusual characters. It’s a one-of-a-kind work of art that jumps backwards and forwards in time, showing how these odd, memorable characters all relate to one another.
Is there a valuable life lesson in it? Maybe not. But it is the film that opened an entire generation’s eyes to a new way of storytelling. Bonus: it’s loaded with amazing actors and has a killer soundtrack to boot.
6. Requiem For a Dream
If you need a stark reminder that life is not always fun and games, Requiem For a Dream is the movie to watch. Telling the story of a series of drug addled friends, all with their own issues, this film reminds us that “fun” can have some very serious consequences.
Aside from the obvious moral of the story (don’t do drugs), it’s a great depiction of how life can quickly get out of hand. The highs of these characters lives send them to the lowest lows they’ve ever experienced.
7. Dead Poets Society
“Oh captain my captain”…”carpe diem”…these are just some of the quotes you’ve undoubtedly heard movie buffs throw around over the years. And you can thank Dead Poets Society for that.
This 1989 classic stars the beloved Robin Williams in a dramatic role as the free-thinking English teacher at an elite boy’s prep school. He challenges his students to think differently and opens their eyes to things they never thought of – including, yes, poetry.
This film shows how the right teacher can make learning cool. And in this case, carpe diem doesn’t mean being outrageous or acting crazy in order to have a good time. With Robin Williams in charge, carpe diem means learning how to take advantage of opportunities presented to you. It’s a life lesson worth learning – and a movie worth watching over and over again.
8. Good Will Hunting
The first movie to introduce us to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Good Will Hunting tells the story of a young math genius who isn’t living up to his potential. This one stars Robin Williams as well – and it’s full of valuable life lessons, such as how to stay true to your past and to your friends.
In this 1997 flick Matt Damon plays a janitor at MIT. A math professor challenges his students to solve some pretty complex equations and Matt Damon does it secretly, and with ease. It’s a lesson in humility, but it’s also a lesson in learning how to acknowledge that there is more out there for you than you might think.
9. Shawshank Redemption
There’s a reason that Shawshank Redemption makes almost everybody’s top 5 favorite movie list. This 1994 classic is based on a Stephen King novella, and it’s one of those movies that you cannot miss.
Set in Shawshank Prison, it’s a lesson on what it means to truly have patience. A tedious plan turns into an arduous escape, leaving the audience amazed at the power of perseverance.
Make sure you see this one before you graduate. You don’t want to enter the real world and have no idea what people are talking about when they reference a Rita Hayworth poster or a rock hammer.
Pop some popcorn and get ready to learn a thing or two about life. Yes, the movies that made this list are some of our favorites – but they’re also modern day classics that everyone should check out at least once. And the next time you hear a friend quoting a famous movie line, you just might know which film it came from.
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