It’s always a bummer to see break come and go: the fun is over, the alarms are re-set for early rises, and the workload begins to pile on once more. Why are we going to college, again?
But never fear — we have just the cure for your back-to-school funk. These 12 movies are guaranteed to get you pumped up and back on your A-game just in time for another great semester.
1. For the girl working toward that 4.0: Legally Blonde
When the man whom you thought was going to propose decides, instead, to break your heart, what’s a girl to do? Apply to his school and tried to win him back, of course! (Side note: Don’t actually do that. It’s a terrible idea.) Although Elle’s impulsive decision didn’t mend her broken relationship in the end, it did manage to mend something else — her view on education. If Elle’s drastic change from ditzy blonde to kick-butt lawyer doesn’t get you pumped for back-t0-school, it’ll be difficult to find a movie that will. Through education, Elle breaks her stereotype, learns to stand up for herself, and grasps complex clues that help her break a case wide open. Knowledge really is power!
2. For the girl about to experience dorm life for the first time: Monsters University
Disney always has a way of speaking to our souls, even if it happens to be through the monsters we once feared were hiding in our closet. Mike and Sulley are dorm mates at Monsters U, and it’s anything but friendship at first sight. Becoming enemies with your roomie is a student’s worst nightmare, but this animated, heart-melter gives us a chance to see the person we thought we had nothing in common with as something more — a friend. A good deal of friends we make during our years at school will be fleeting, but there are those who make the potential of college friendship all the more compelling; they’ll stay by our sides and create a lasting bond that will journey alongside us even after these glory days have passed.
3. For the girl wanting to redefine herself: Mean Girls
Moving to a new school can be tough, especially if you were formally homeschooled in Africa, or are forced to occupy the same halls with a clique as self-involved as The Plastics. However, Cady takes her new school scene as an opportunity to figure out who she is, something we should all be eager to do in our own educational paths. School is a place where friendships are made and coming-of-age stories are unraveled. As for popularity? Don’t let it make or break your new school experience — it’s way more fun to stick with friends who don’t require you to wear pink on Wednesdays.
4. For the girl that’s ready to put her talents to good use: X–Men
No, I’m not saying you should be patiently waiting for Professor Xavier to come knocking at your door with an offer to join his school for mutants. However, the X-Men series easily parallels the ideas of real-life college. Each X-men character has a unique gift; each of these gifts is recognized by Professor X as something valuable. In Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, each student learns how to improve and control their abilities. In a similar regard, we, too, come to college with our own special talents and a need to figure out how we should use them to better our futures. That’s why all the stress of tests and essay assignments is going to pay off in the end: it’ll prepare us for our greater destinies.
5. For the girl who tends to feel like the odd duck: First Daughter
You think going to college is stepping out of your comfort zone? Just imagine if you were the president’s daughter, and the whole student body was watching your every move. No matter what your own comfort zone may be, college has a way of forcing us to take one step further. This is a time where, much like protagonist Sam, it’s okay to make mistakes. Failing happens, and it may take a few bump-ups in the road to figure out what path we need to take. College is a place for trying and, eventually, breaking out of your comfort zone altogether. (But try not to fail any of those calc classes…)
6. For the girl interested in getting involved: Pitch Perfect
One of the great things about college is the wide variety of extra-curricular activities you can be apart of. Just look at Beca, who becomes an important member of the Bellas, an all-girls a capella singing group. Not only does Beca discover her love for competition, but she creates a strong bond amongst the girls in her group. So audition for plays, join a writer’s workshop, find a youth group. Your campus is your oyster.
7. For the girl eager to find “the one”: Ten Things I Hate About You
This parody of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” takes its character, Kat, and places her in a more modern day situation. Although Kat is known for being a bit “shrewd,” she’s a student that’s not going to be the cookie-cutter model of what her peers want her to be. “Why should I live up to others’ expectations instead of my own?” she asks hunky male protagonist, Patrick Verona. And that view is exactly what attracts him to her; her willingness to be her, no sugar-coating needed. This school year, don’t become someone’s puppet, especially if you’re trying to get a romantic interest’s attention. Be pumped about being unapologetically you. After all, you never know when Mr. Right may be watching.
8. For the girl with helicopter parents: An Extremely Goofy Movie
Yes, yes. I realize I’ve thrown yet another Disney movie into this mix, but let’s face it — Disney hits the nail on the head when it comes to the college scene. When Max heads off for his freshman year of college, his father, Goofy, is right behind him every step of the way. Max, of course, is mortified by his wacky dad’s embarrassing attempts to fit in, but this movie can remind the child in all of us that it’s always great to have our parents’ support every step of the way. For freshmen especially, college can be quite the shock to your system. But, whether it be your mom, brother, aunt, guardian, teacher, or psycho disco-loving father, there’s always someone that’s got your back.
9. For the girl who’s excited to see her friends again: Grease
Danny’s the bad boy, Sandy’s the good girl, and by the end they both take a walk in one another’s shoes (spoiler alert). School is a time to learn, not only about yourself, but about the people surrounding you. We learn to root our friends on and give them a shoulder to cry on. We aid one another on our journeys and learn to think on the spot when advice is needed. You may not “always be together” for your fellow peers physically, but the influence you make on your friends now will be ever-lasting.
10. For the girl who wants to break stereotypes this year: The Breakfast Club
A classic tale of five students suffering through detention on a Saturday is just perfect for the girl who wants to break stereotypes. The message in this movie is timeless: that no matter how different you are from others surrounding you, you can all achieve something together if you work hard enough. Thank you, John Hughes for putting together such a work of art and reminding us that we should always break out of our status quo.
11. For the girl who wants to ask more questions: Dead Poet’s Society
“O Captain, my captain!” are the most memorable words from this beautiful movie. Starring the late Robin Williams, Dead Poet’s Society gives you exactly what you search for every time you watch it. William’s character, John Keating is a new English teacher is tumultuously inspirational, and the entire film will have you ready to return back to campus searching for new theories and asking new questions.
12. For the girl about to study abroad: Harry Potter
Last, but certainly not least, is our famous boy wizard, the chosen one, the kid with the lightening scar: Mr. H.P. himself. This popular series follows Harry as he not only is educated in the prestigious wizarding schools, Hogwarts, but also has the chance to rebuild himself, surfacing his hidden potential that was kept under wraps for so long by his uncle and aunt. Being on your own for the first time is an adventure in and of itself, but finding your inner strength along the way is much more than an added bonus. Whether your school is located on the east coast, Paris, Australia, or even a fantasy land filled with wizards and dragons, capitalize on the opportunity to create a home away from home.