I got my first taste of college life courtesy of Legally Blonde. The movie opens to find the inimitable Elle Woods primping for her make-it-or-break-it date with Warner Huntington, III. College appears as a tree-lined place studded with Jacuzzis, pigtails, and people who wear Baby-G watches without irony. Hoku’s one-hit-wonder, “Perfect Day,” is the soundtrack to your life. Studying seems an extra-curricular activity making an appearance somewhere between your sorority sisters and Spring Break plans, on your list of priorities. I couldn’t wait to get there.
Fast forward. College, as I’m now experiencing it, bears little resemblance to Elle’s experience as the president of Delta Nu. We don’t debate the cost-effectiveness of Charmin versus generic. It has been suggested that my dorm’s bathroom is stocked with ¼-ply toilet paper. We play hard, sure. But we study enough to make up for it. And the vast majority of my fellow co-eds are not orchestrating engagements to their respective partners.
As an audience, we don’t count on Hollywood to tell the truth. In fact, we expect it to manufacture our most beloved fantasies. But when it comes to painting a picture of the Best Four Years of Your Life, it seems the movie-making business takes a particularly skewed approach.
Myth #1: Good Will Hunting
In 1997, Good Will Hunting claimed that we could master everything we would go on to learn in college for the grand total of $1.50 in late fees at the public library. If college were only about what we learned within the confines of two covers, Will Hunting would be right. But, as anyone who has celebrated Hallo-Week where Halloween used to suffice knows, the college experience isn’t all about flash cards or existential papers. (Sorry, Mom and Dad!) It’s about roommates, relationships, mentors, dining hall disasters, the parties you go to, the ones you skip in favor of pajamas and popcorn, and above all, friends.
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