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Main Misconceptions About College Life

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Fiction Vs. Reality College Life

In movies and TV programs, Hollywood portrays college in many different ways. In Hollywood, college is stereotyped in extreme ways for example, you have your jock I full uniform all the time, crazy people standing outside the library or student center shoving their beliefs down the throats of anyone who happens to be walking by, and then you have your party school who do nothing but party and the philosopher schools that only care about grades and more grades. In an article titled, Tranquility Lost, the writer says, “If anything, these college movies really make me angry. They are filling high schoolers with false hopes of a laid-back, beer filled atmosphere where they won’t really need to do anything but party to succeed.” Hollywood is in fact giving students a false reality of what college really is. Hollywood bases there films off of extremes, and never the reality. After reading several articles, watching a few films, and interviewing a few students on campus; I have found that there are two major types of schools when it comes to college in films, the party school and the philosopher school.

The first misconception about college life is that it is one big party. In Tranquility Lost, the writer explains the party school as “A place where slackers can drink, get stoned, have sex, skip class and still get by.” He then continues to say the main reason that there are parties in Hollywood colleges is fraternities. This is really prominent in the classic film Animal House. The film features two college freshman, Larry and Kent, exploring two different fraternities on campus the Omega’s and the Delta’s. The Omega house is full of snobby rich kids who party a lot but do it in a classy way and they still do well in school. On the other hand, the Delta house is the worst organization on campus and is full of the extreme partiers who all they do is party and forgets about school. The boys ended up joining the Delta house where they got their frat names of Pinto and Flounder. Later on in the film the dean of the school was fed up with the Delta’s mentality on school so he put them on super-secret probation as he calls it where if they do anything else wrong he was going to shut them down. Not knowing this the students in the Delta house got a hold to the answers to the upcoming test they had and cheated on it but it didn’t work in their favor because it turns out it was the wrong answers so they all failed. In response to their failure you would think that reality would hit them but that’s not the case, they threw another party. College life in the real world is not like that in an interview a Tarleton Sophomore stated “In reality, college is a little bit of both. On the weekends I go out and party, mainly at frat parties where there is no beer but occasionally I go to friends house parties and get drunk and have sex. However, during the week I do homework and study for classes. Good grades are hard to earn but they’re not impossible to work for.” As you can see, college really isn’t a giant party. There may be parties on the weekends but very few if any during the week. Clearly, college as far as party schools go is not the same in reality as it is in films.

Another misconception about university life is that college is a big study session; all students do is study and study and study without any time for fun. The mentality that this type of school has is a focus on grades, as the writer of Tranquility Lost states, “This is where you will see extreme competition among classmates, people backstabbing and stealing to make the perfect grade.” Kids will even go as far as “have sex with teachers in this college” to make a higher grade. The Hollywood film, Paper Chase, heavily promotes this misconception. The movie displays first year law students at the famous Harvard school of Law in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The movie’s main character James Hart walks in to class the first day of school and is expected to already have an assignment over a book done. He had no idea about it because come on it was the first day of class. Professor Kingsfield was beyond angry that Hart didn’t have the assignment completed. Later in the film Professor Kingsfield again got mad at Hart for not knowing an answer so he gave him some money and told him to call his mom and tell her he wasn’t going to make it in Kingsfield’s class. In another scene it shows a fellow student named Ford asking Hart if he wanted to go get a drink. From what we know about college in party schools the student would go out and drink but in the philosopher school they just went to Ford’s room and had a drink out of a coffee mug and whatever cup he had lying around and then went right back to studying. Hollywood likes to take things way out of proportion, in reality college isn’t as extreme as Paper Chase describes it to be. It’s because of films like this that younger students are scared or think they aren’t cut out for college before they even get there when in reality it isn’t nearly that bad. In an interview a Sam Houston State Honors student explain one of her professors to me, “It just depends on the professor, my honors English professor isn’t mean while she is teaching but when it comes to grading papers and projects that’s a different story. She is very strict and a hard grader. I know that she is and honors professor and she is supposed to be strict but her expectations are far beyond anyone can possibly be asked to do. All in all they are understanding and want to see you succeed if you put in the effort to succeed.” Later in the interview she proceeded to talk about her social life, “I guess you would say I have more of a social life than the average Honors kid. The only reason I would say this is because I know how to manage my time effectively, I don’t wait till the last minute to get assignments done and I study after every lecture, because of this I can go hangout on weekends.” As you can see university life in reality is not as strict or demanding as those in movies and television shows. Clearly, college is far from that Hollywood portrays it to be.

In conclusion, Hollywood over exaggerates colleges and professors for the sole purpose of entertainment. In the professors point of view, the writer of Screen university: Hollywood goes to college, explains in the article about the difference between Hollywood Offices for professors and his office. He stated, “…fictional professors are surrounded by huge wood-paneled offices with glass-fronted book cases chocked- full of first editions.” Also, “These offices are within charming Victorian-era structures located on park-like campuses.” When in reality he states about his own office, “The building where my closet-sized office can be found looks like the boxes in which movie-university buildings were delivered in.” As you can see there is a vast difference between Hollywood and the real world. In my personal opinion, I do not think that Hollywood writers and directors have ever been to college or just don’t care that they are feeding potential college students false information about university life. Instead of scaring students, film writers should show how college really is like. People say that college is the best years of your life so why wouldn’t a real life reality college movie be as interesting as the fake ones. To sum everything up, when Hollywood portrays college life they blow it way out of the waters and assumes all students do is party or study but never both when in reality students still have to study a lot but they also have time for a social life.

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Main Misconceptions About College Life. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from
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