15 Movies Every Person Should Watch Before They Go to College

High school was fun and all, but as any adult will tell you (*groan*), college is where it’s really at. You’ll come into your own, play lots of beer pong and forge some lifelong friendships. But first, be sure to watch these 15 movies. Why? Because they’ll prepare you for college better than any SAT prep course or parental diatribe. Consider them required reading binge-ing.

super bad cast


Superbad centers on young Jonah Hill (Seth), Michael Cera (Evan) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s (Fogell/McLovin’) last-ditch effort to leave their mark on high school and finally snag the out-of-their-league girls of their dreams. The overall lesson: Friendship is forever and separation anxiety is totes normal.

ferrisbueller s day off cast
Paramount Pictures

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Everyone needs a day off. Just ask jokester Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), his gorgeous girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and his worrywart best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), who pull off the senior ditch day of a lifetime (and ruin a prized Ferrari in the process). So what will this movie teach you? Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to the moment (and don’t borrow your dad’s Ferrari).

reese witherspoon legally blonde

Legally Blonde

Study up on the dos (scented résumés) and don’ts (wearing last season’s Manolos) of college—or in this case, Harvard Law School—with Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) and Bruiser.

perks of being a wallflower
Summit Entertainment

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

An introverted high school freshman, Charlie (Logan Lerman), finds his first love, first heartbreak and true friends all in one unique group of seniors after his best friend commits suicide. As Charlie learns, you might not always be the most popular or gregarious or intelligent in the group, but there are perks of being a wallflower. 

lady bird

Lady Bird

A quintessential coming-of-age story, Lady Bird follows an artistic 17-year-old girl as she navigates first loves, parents who just don’t get it and the dreaded college application process.

american pie

American Pie

Warning: Do not watch this with your parents unless you feel like dying of embarrassment. Why? Well, American Pie is all about four dudes who vow to lose their virginity by prom night. Hilarity and awkwardness ensue, but it will remind you to carpe diem high school before it’s over.

sisterhood of the traveling pants
Warner Bros.

The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants

Four besties experience their first summer apart since birth and stay in touch via a magical pair of jeans that somehow fits each one of them. Throw in some teenage romance and life lessons for good measure.

pitch perfect bellas

Pitch Perfect

When Beca starts at Barden University, she finds her place among an acapella group called The Bellas. Naturally, a tense rivalry develops with the male singing group on campus and some truly entertaining aca-battles transpire. Take this as proof that no matter your interests, you’ll find your people in college.

the social network
Columbia Pictures

The Social Network

Once upon a time, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) was just a scrawny Harvard student and Facebook was only available to college kids. The Social Network tells the story of how Zuckerberg took the company from his dorm room to the behemoth it is today. Who knows—maybe it’ll inspire you to become the next kid billionaire.   

the breakfast club cast
Universal Pictures

The Breakfast Club

Class clowns, bookish nerds and leather-jacket-wearers alike will relish this John Hughes classic about a group of misfits who meet in Saturday detention and learn they’re more alike than they thought. Remember this one when you’re making new friends on campus because you can’t always judge a book by its cover. 

animal house

Animal House

Plan to rush a fraternity or sorority? Animal House won’t necessarily prepare you for bid night, but it will give you all the toga party inspo you need.

mean girls cast
Paramount Pictures

Mean Girls

What better way to celebrate the end of high school than by watching epitomical mean girl Regina George (Rachel McAdams) meet her social demise? Oh, and be sure to take notes while you’re at it so you don’t accidentally fall in with the collegiate Plastics.

olivia newton john travolta singing


Blame the catchy tunes (ever heard of “Summer Nights?”) or the vintage Olivia Newton John, but this ’50s-themed musical about two high school kids who fall in love over the summer and spend senior year trying to change for each other is a total classic. Take it as proof that while growth and change are constant, some summer lovin’ does last. 

wet hot american summer amy poehler
USA Films

Wet Hot American Summer

The good (first kisses), the bad (dead campers) and the awkward (unrequited love) collide in this quirky comedy about the last day of summer camp and a bevy of counselors just trying to ease their raging hormones. This movie serves as a light reminder that you might not always get what you want, but you ultimately get what you need (ie: only Friday classes versus a degree). 

toy story 3

Toy Story 3

Don’t let the “G” rating fool you. The third installment of Toy Story cuts to the core of pre-college jitters and explores the sad reality of having to leave longtime friendships (with humans or toys) behind in the interest of higher education. To infinity graduation and beyond.


Cat mom, yogi, brunch enthusiast

Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.