The Best Movies to Watch Before Your Freshman Year of College

by Megan Hemenway
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During the summer before you begin college, you’re probably doing a lot of sitting around and waiting. You buy extra long bed sheets and you wait. You scoop ice cream at your summer job and you wait. And you enjoy your beachside vacation but still in the back of your mind, you wait. There’s a lot to anticipate going into college. On the other hand, there’s a lot that’s unknown as well. So, while you wait, maybe you can turn on your TV and find one of these movies to pass the time. And hopefully, they’ll help you be as prepared as possible for the next four years of your life. Here are some of the best movies to watch before your freshman year of college!

8. Toy Story 3

We know you’re probably thinking, “No way, what does a movie about talking toys have to do with college?” However, think back to the plot of the film. The toys get sent away to a daycare center. Why? Andy is going to college!

The toys arrive at Sunnyside in Toy Story 3, our #8 pick for best movies to watch before starting college
The toys arrive at Sunnyside in Toy Story 3, our #8 pick for best movies to watch before starting college

It’s a bit unconventional but Toy Story 3 handles the idea of leaving home and accepting change. There’s a lot you can learn from Andy finally letting go of his beloved toys, or the toys themselves acclimating to their new surroundings. Of course, the villains you face may not be as cute and cuddly, there’s still plenty to learn from Toy Story 3.

7. Pitch Perfect

This 2012 comedy hit is one that most people have seen or at least heard of. Pitch Perfect tells the story of Beca, a college freshman who gets caught up in the highly competitive acapella groups at her school.

Although the film contains plenty of raunchy jokes and is not always completely accurate, we think there are some special lessons to be learned from Pitch Perfect. For example, Beca doesn’t quite fit in at first in college, mostly because she resists the people around her. It can be difficult in college to find your “group” and Pitch Perfect displays the antidote to that. Find what you’re passionate about and go for it, being completely yourself.

6. Booksmart

While Booksmart is a fairly new movie, it is definitely one you want to check out. It stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two best friends who have been considered boring throughout high school. But now, on the night before graduation, they’re craving something different.

Booksmart offers a ton of wisdom about finding yourself, which is half the battle in college. If you’re someone who always played it safe in high school, this could be a good movie for you. The main lesson of Booksmart? Don’t be afraid to explore, especially people who you doubted or judged, but always remember to keep your truest friends closest. Plus, this movie is hilarious.

5. Kicking and Screaming

Now, don’t be fooled here. We aren’t recommending the 2005 Will Ferrell movie, Kicking and Screaming. Here, we’re talking about the 1995 Kicking and Screaming, which follows a group of friends who just graduated college but find themselves stuck in their old ways.

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Kicking and Screaming (1995)

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While Kicking and Screaming isn’t incredibly well known, it provides some serious life lessons about young adulthood. Although the characters are graduating college, high schoolers can still take the themes to heart. Things will be changing for you, both for good and bad. Yes, at times you will want to reminisce on the old days and that’s ok. Meanwhile, remember to keep looking forward and anticipate all the greatness and accomplishment in your future.

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

On the flip side, The Perks of Being a Wallflower could be categorized more as a high school movie, but it still offers valuable wisdom. A high school freshman, Charlie (Logan Lerman), struggles with social anxiety and fitting in until he meets a group of older, eccentric friends (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller).

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a touching and vibrant film that teaches audiences about friendship and letting people in. Charlie’s desire to love and be loved spans not only high school and college but all of life. While the film touches on the idea of finding your crowd, another meaningful message is enjoying the good things you have in front of you and taking advantage of them. Luckily, in college, these moments can be endless.

3. Legally Blonde

You probably aren’t surprised to see Legally Blonde on this list, and for good reason! The story of Elle Woods defying the odds at Harvard Law School after her boyfriend dumps her is just too good to not include. Surprisingly, there are some amazing lessons hidden in all the pink sparkly overtones.

Legally Blonde truly has some great messages that are clear and useful. First, don’t let a boy ruin your life; an especially good lesson in college. Next, use your strengths to your advantage. This applies to academics, social life, and anything in between. And lastly, don’t let anyone doubt you. Stereotypes can be killers but don’t let them define you.

2. Reality Bites

Similar to Kicking and Screaming, this Winona Ryder/Ethan Hawke film explores the struggles young adults face once school is over. The protagonist, Lelaina, attempts to make a documentary about her and her friends in “the real world”, but they find more obstacles than expected.

Although Reality Bites focuses on the after-college experience, once again it teaches the invaluable lesson of accepting change. Seeing the way Lelaina struggles despite having what she always thought she wanted is very eye-opening, especially for young adults. Therefore, when going into college, always remember that things may not always work out or be what you expect. However, you will always come out on the other side having learned something new.

1. Lady Bird

For our final film, we have Lady Bird. This movie follows Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird, a high school senior who experiences her first relationships, often has fights with her mother, and dreams of going to college far away from her home in Sacramento.

Lady Bird offers a story that countless teens can relate to. It truly encapsulates the highs and lows of being a young adult. Plus, what really captures audiences is the end, when Lady Bird finds that the things she resented, her mother and her hometown, are some of the most important parts of her life. She needs these things. In the end, college can be a fantastic experience that gives you independence and a new sense of self. However, like Lady Bird, don’t forget about the ones who got you there. Your parents, your friends, and the old you.

Conclusion

So, we hope these movies will give you the wisdom you need to enter college without too many doubts or fears! And hopefully, they’ll make you laugh, cry, and get excited for the path ahead of you. Let us know what you think of these movies and if there’s any we missed!


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