Just like how there are Christmas movies, there are also back-to-school movies. Below are six drama films and TV series about university students for university students that will get you hype and ready for September. This is an assorted list with different themes from different countries, so enjoy something that’s your type AND explore something new!

1) The Social Network (2010, U.S.)

“This is what drives life at college. ‘Are you having sex or aren’t you?’ It’s why people take certain classes and sit where they sit and do what they do.”

The Social Network Movie

In this biographical drama, experience the elitist life with a Harvard sophomore hacker who creates Facebook. The behind-the-scenes story of ambition and betrayal is bolstered by a rapid nonlinear narrative, artful cinematography, and a star cast. So sit back and — with a grain of salt— let Mark Zuckerberg tell you what college is all about. 

2) Whiplash (2014, U.S.)

Andrew: “So Fordham was just like a random school?”

Nicole: “No, I applied to a bunch of schools and Fordham let me in — why d’you pick Shaffer?”

Andrew: “It’s the best music school in the country.”

whiplash movie

Drummer Andrew Neiman of Shaffer Conservatory goes rad on his quest to become “one of the greats.” This meticulously crafted drama is crammed with explosive tension and sends a powerful message about aspirations. A must-watch not only for musicians but also for any student with a dream. 

3) 3 Idiots (2009, India)

“Pursue excellence and success will come chasing you. Pants down.”

3 idiots movie

Don’t be tricked by the title — the “idiots” are actually students at India’s top engineering college. In a society where “if you don’t run fast you’ll get trampled”, the trio learns that passion is the antidote to anxiety and pressure. In this coming-of-age Bollywood drama, the refreshing lessons encompassed in catchy tunes and infectious choreography will definitely fortify you against the stressful times to come. 

4) Honey and Clover (2005, Japan)

“Loneliness comes suddenly like waves and recedes just as fast. That continues on forever. It’s the same for you. It’s the same for everyone.”

Honey and Clover movie

The contemplative and easy-going animation is produced by the J.C. Staff and consists of 23 episodes, each 23 minutes long. It features five Tokyo university art students and their tribulations in career and love. Quirky as well as comic and melancholic by turns, this classic anime drama can also serve as an intro to Japanese culture and entertainment. 

5) Mona Lisa Smile (2003, U.S.)

“Not all who wander are aimless. Especially not those who seek truth beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond the image.”

Mona Lisa Smile movie

The plot is simple enough: an anti-traditions teacher arrives at a traditional all-female college and changes her students’ lives. Although the film starts as a call to end the oppression of the patriarchy, it finishes as an urging to stand against any form of societal pressure, whether it be the attitude that girls belong in the kitchen or that “a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial”. The drama is known for its iconic scenes as well as its star cast, made up of Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, and Julia Stiles. 

6) Age of Youth (2016, South Korea)

Eun: “I heard cicadas live for only a week?”

Eun-jae: “Yes. They live as nymphs for seven years, but as cicadas for only seven days.”

Ye-eun: ‘That must be why they keep crying. Because they think it’s unfair.”

Jin-myung: “Do nymphs live so that they can become cicadas? They are probably happier as nymphs. Maybe cicadas are just nymphs in their old age.”

Age of Youth movie

The shy one, the diligent one, the slutty one, the basic one, and the absolutely crazy one. The college share-house Belle Époque has it all. Accompany the girls as they conquer break-ups, loan sharks, and secret demons that make both the characters and the drama more than what they appear to be. Plus their apartment suite is just #goals. 

What do you watch to get psyched for back-to-college? Comment below and share your recommendations with us!

Zelia Fang

Trin Freshie at the University of Toronto, studying something in the humanities. An avid reader and a hopeless romantic who's looking to get more experiences in writing... and in life.

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