Campus Life
Lies Hollywood told me about being in college
by Gabby Dumonceaux | March 18, 2020

No one gets a parking spot that close to campus.

Do you remember in 2 Fast 2 Furious when Brian and Tyrese drove off a ramp, flew through the air and landed on a yacht?

Clip from, "2 Fast 2 Furious," where Brian and Tyrese launch a blue car onto a moving boat.

They somehow magically timed their drive so the boat was at the perfect distance when they launched through the air. Both men survived the crash with barely a scratch on them, despite the sizeable explosion.

Also, how did they know the road they were driving on had a ramp at the end?

It’s no secret Hollywood tends to take some…”creative liberties” in its representations of reality. However, these movie misconceptions go far beyond unrealistic action scenes. From The Social Network to Legally Blonde to Monsters University, dozens of films have incorporated college life into their plot lines.

I watched some of them, and I have thoughts.

Singer Kehlani purses her lips and looks skeptically to the side on a pink and orange backdrop.

Here are my top picks for how films flub academic actuality:

The lie: failing one test will ruin your future

The liar: Monsters University (2013)

Mike Wazowski and Sully from, "Monsters University," are kicked through an open door and land on their stomachs.

The entire plot of this movie centers around Mike and Sully earning re-entry into the Monsters University scaring program after their rivalry makes them fail their final exam.

In reality, no single test is important enough to make or break your career.

If you’re failing everything, yeah, you might have a problem. But one bad day won’t ruin your life! Take it from me: someone who’s had many bad days.

Sorry, Pixar, the stakes here are way too high. But I’ll give you a pass since this is literally a story about anthropomorphic monsters.

The lie: a break up will make you a billionaire

The liar: The Social Network (2010)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg nods as the camera zooms into his forehead.

Roughly based on the actual creation of Facebook, The Social Network implies Mark Zuckerberg had the idea for the social platform after being dumped by his college girlfriend Erica Albright.

Note: I said, “roughly based.” Erica Albright never actually existed.

The real story makes a lot more sense to me. No student is having breakthroughs during a break-up. Heartbreak calls for relaxation, not innovation. Okay? You cry, eat ice cream, watch baby animal videos, and vent to the counsellors at the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC).

That being said, a Facebook-sized cheque wouldn’t hurt. My e-transfers are open, Zucks.

The lie: you’ll never have to do actual work

The liar: Pitch Perfect (2012)

Anna Kendrick as Beca Mitchell in, "Pitch Perfect" (2012) is surrounded by members of the Barden Bellas while making a funny face.

I don’t think this movie has one scene where characters are doing classwork. I get those study sessions don’t make very interesting plot points, but, come on, this is a movie about college kids and they barely go to college.

How does Beca have time to balance homework, a part-time job, and nightly a cappella battles with the Trebles? Make it make sense!

The lie: there’s always a party going on

The liar: Old School (2003)

Will Farrell in, "Old School" punches the air at a college party.

I’ve been in college for nearly two years, and I’ve been to—maybe—five parties.

It’s not because I’m an incurable introvert, either; it’s because college requires actual work (looking at you, Pitch Perfect), which leaves me completely drained of energy at the end of the day.

When real students aren’t in class, we’re catching up on rest at the IGNITE Sleep Lounge.

The lie: We always look our best

The liar: Legally Blonde (2001)

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in, "Legally Blonde" (2001) says, "What, like it's hard?"

I get that Elle Woods is a fashion icon, but you will never catch me looking red-carpet-ready in class.

School is for sweatpants, fuzzy socks, and that old hoodie you don’t remember buying but that has been in your wardrobe for so long it’s basically part of your family.

Although, the students featured in IGNITE’s Street Styles might disagree.

The lie: dorm rooms are spacious and luxurious

The liar: Back to School (1986)

Keith Gordon in, "Back to School" (1986) enters into a spacious dorm room.

It was hard to narrow this down to a single movie because there are so many films that get this one wrong. With private balconies, king-sized beds, and even hot tubs, college bedrooms in movies are often nicer than houses in real life.

Actual dorm rooms are good for showering and sleeping, but not much else. You can make the best of what you have, though—check out these residence life hacks that are Humber and UofGH student-approved!

The lie: everyone fits into a stereotypical clique

The liar: 22 Jump Street (2014)

Jonah Hill as Schmidt in, "22 Jump Street," dressed as a goth walks down a hallway and brushes his bangs out of his face.

When Jenko and Schmidt go to college, they’re quickly recruited into respective social circles; Jenko settles in with the jocks and frat guys while Schmidt makes friends with the art students.

Let’s be real: if college students only hung out with people exactly like us, campus would be so boring. 

One of the best things about post-secondary is the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds. It made me realize how rich and diverse the world is and allowed me to connect with people I most likely wouldn’t have encountered on my own.

Conforming to cliques deprives you of the wealth of personalities the world has to offer and it bars you from unlocking your own potential. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

The lie: Greek life is the only option

The liar: The House Bunny (2008), Neighbours (2014), Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising (2016), 22 Jump Street (2014), Legally Blonde (2001)…

Anna Faris as, "Shelley Darlingson," and the girls of the Phi lota Mu sorority in the 2008 film, "The House Bunny," strut down the sidewalk with linked arms.

Perhaps the only movie trope about colleges more exhausted than fancy dorm rooms is the idea that everyone belongs to a frat or sorority. While these do exist in Canada, they aren’t an option for students at Humber and UofGH—we don’t have any!

Our lack of Greek life may be for the better, though. Fraternities and sororities have not earned the best reputation due to their long history of exclusivity, their glamorization of risky behaviour and their many instances of racism and transphobia.

There are some benefits to Greek life. For some, they’re a great way to find fraternity (pun definitely intended) and encourage peers to support each other through the difficulties of early adulthood.

But, since we don’t have them here, you can receive the same benefits by joining a club!

The truth: it’s a weird, hard, wonderful time

Jay Pharoah and Michelle Obama shout, "You should go to college!"

Despite their many misconceptions, movies about college do get one thing right: college is the ride of a lifetime.

You’ll make mistakes. You’ll fall in love with the wrong person. You’ll stay up until 4 a.m. studying, doze off at your desk and nearly sleep through your exam the next day. (No, I’m not speaking from experience, why do you ask?)

You’ll also make some of the best friends of your life. You’ll connect with people who will help you build your dream career. And, someday, you’ll look back on these years and wish you could do it all over again.


For more movie trivia, check out our list of movies you had no idea were filmed at Lakeshore.

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