We watched 5 movies about going to college. Here’s the takeaway.

#1. Life of the Party (if you’re coming to college as a non-traditional student)

We can’t get enough of this comedy, shedding some light on the challenges of coming to college outside of the traditional path. In this movie, Deanna drops her daughter off at college, only to discover her own life is upended by unexpected divorce. She decides to enroll in college to finish her degree, join campus activities and clubs, and pursue her educational passion alongside her daughter.

The takeaway

Whether you’ve taken the traditional path to your education or a few detours, embracing your personal journey with the gusto of this main character can help you boot anxiety and imposter syndrome right out the door. You are welcome in academic places no matter who — or where — you are in life. In the end, self-discovery, self-acceptance, and growth are lifelong benefits you’ll gain from challenging yourself to step outside the norm.

#2. Monsters University (if you’re worried about succeeding in your major)

Ever since Mike Wazaowski was young, his dream career started with his dream college major. So, when he goes to Monsters University ready to take his academic path by storm, he discovers he’s not at the top of his class, and he has to work hard to succeed in his own ways. He meets his rival, who will ultimately become his friend, and they work together to achieve their dreams in their dream major.

The takeaway

Worried your major might be too difficult or that the competition might be too intense? Take a page out of Mike’s book: It’s normal to waver when you’re in a new place and when you’re challenging yourself academically (and socially). If you love your major and if you know it’s going to get you where you want to go in life, CSU has support and resources to help you succeed. If you get into your academic program and discover another path suits you better, we can help you there, too.

#3. Toy Story 3 (if you’re feeling all the feels about leaving home)

The toys in Toy Story 3 get accidentally donated to a new, intimidating home when their owner, Andy grows up and gets ready to leave for college. As the toys make their way back to Andy’s house, they realize the bittersweet-but-important step of moving on.

The takeaway

This one is a tearjerker, and perfect if you want to settle in and feel all the feels about your big next step in life. Sometimes the idea of starting a new school, living in a new place, and meeting new people all at once can be overwhelming, and we get it! Just know that everyone else is probably feeling the same way you are, and even CSU grads remember what it’s like to take that step. Growth and change are never easy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t survive and thrive here. Plus, even if you pass your best childhood mementos onto new owners, you’ll never have to leave the memories behind.

#4. Pitch Perfect (if you’re hoping to explore clubs and make friends)

Becca is a new student in college who [begrudgingly] ends up in an a capella student group, but finds herself with a whole new group of friends and a goal to win a competition through fun music mashups and harmonic smackdowns.

The takeaway

Think you won’t find the right group in college? Think again. Colorado State has 450+ clubs and student organizations, full of academic-themed groups, outdoorsy clubs, political and religious organizations, and so much more. You might be coming to college to learn and get a degree, but it’s so much more than that. When you take advantage of CSU’s extracurricular offerings, you’ll meet friends, explore new hobbies and places, and maybe even find yourself winning a competition.

#5. Sydney White (if you’re coming with big expectations for yourself)

Sydney White is inspired by the classic story, Snow White, and features a main character who leaves for college to follow in her mother’s footsteps: going to the same university, joining the same sorority, taking the same classes, and having the idyllic experience she’s always dreamed of. Nothing goes as expected, though, and Sydney ends up in a “reject” frat house with seven sweet, dorky students, but finds herself along the way as she stands up for marginalized groups on campus and takes down the “queen” of sorority row.

The takeaway

Going to college as anyone other than yourself is bound to backfire. Don’t forget to think about who you are, what you want, and who you want to become as you make your way through your big life transitions. If you try to fit yourself into someone else’s journey, you’ll probably end up with a few regrets. Not sure where to start? Here are a few things to think about as you prepare for college.

Ready to settle in for some more college-themed movies?

Get out the popcorn and get cozy with these movies about college admissions.

Admissions movies

Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.