Portrayal of College Students in Media


Media portrayal of college students, especially movies, tend to falsely portray college students and give unrealistic ideas of how we live. These media outlets give impractical ideas of what college students are- intense party seekers, people that have all the time in the world, or just lazy nonworking students that revolve everything around their social life. Throughout my research and looking at primary sources such as “Animal House”, “22 Jump Street”, and “How to be a College Student”, I could really delve into popular cultures portrayal of an average day college student and the stigmas that are associated with them. Being a current college student myself, I can most definitely assure that students have lives outside of school. There is so much work that comes along being a college student-it truly is a full time job. Many students have an actual full time job on top of school, maybe a significant relationship, other groups that need attention, or even finding time to exercise and staying healthy. So when movies generalize the college student population as these types of non-stop partiers who don’t have worries, I have an issue with that; so much stress and work goes into living a student lifestyle and it is unfair for media/movies to sugar coat it and not portray students correctly.


In my first primary source, I included the movie “Animal House”, where the above pictures are from. Long story short, this movie includes a lot of large college parties and drinking that happened more than often. It follows a story of a boy joining a fraternity and his college experiences. He and his friends are shown at many parties, basically drinking their way through college, and doing outlandish things that you wouldn’t see on a day-to-day basis. I found there was always a struggle with who was the “alpha male” between the fraternities and with that came fighting. There was a lot more fighting in this movie than there usually is in a normal situation. I find this to be an extremely wrong representation of college and what it entails; fights do not break out over every argument that happens and we students do not drink our way through college (usually). A rebuttal article that I stumbled upon, A look at the Stereotypical College Student by Kirsten Hoverman, really captivated my views on this subject and the way students are portrayed. This article is basically a piece of writing to explain the nonsense that is portrayed in movies such as “Animal House”. Hoverman stated that college students now-a-days are portrayed as “lazy, self-absorbed, alcoholic sex maniacs who only care about one thing, when’s the next party?” Media doesn’t showcase all that happens in the life of a college students. I enjoy and can relate to a point in which this articles mentions that of course we students are young and in college- we will all get drunk and go to parties. We may stay out all night and drink until the sun rises, sleep through a few days of class and have complete lazy days of nothingness. That is normal. It’s totally cool and fun to do these things, but the way movies make out that all college students do is drink, drugs, sex, and party is not okay and we should be represented with more credit.


In a movie like “22 Jump Street”, the two main characters play a role as college students while really being detectives trying to put an end to a new dangerous drug on the market within the college. Firstly, I find it mildly ironic/humorous that they need to have detectives hired to be college students because of a new drug, assuming drug crimes are a pretty normal thing throughout college. Both detectives went in with preconceived notions of what college is going to be like and what they are going to do to fit in, such as the picture above. They’ve never been to college so it was interesting to see how this movies portrays what other people think about college students. I did find this movie to be a little more realistic than “Animal House”, but yet again the over exaggerated partying and incorrect portrayals were shown throughout. At least the humor was there! I find that “22 Jump Street” resembles another of my secondary sources, 10 Inaccurate College Kid Stereotypes as Portrayed by the Media by Aubrey Murtha. It delves into some of the stereotypes throughout college from the athlete, frat star, sorority girl, to over-involved, stoner, 4.0 student, Jesus freak, etc. From this article, athletes are viewed as “dumb as a stump and unmotivated unless the task at hand involves squats, dead lifting or protein shakes” whereas the 4.0 student “frets about any and every academic assignment, and his dedication to his school work always pays off with very high marks at the end of the semester”. I think the preconceived thoughts the two actors had in “22 Jump Street” mimic the thoughts of this article by Murtha.


Fake yet humorous ads like “How to be a College Student” found on YouTube really do showcase all of the judgments that come with being a college student but also how true each one is. I enjoy this type of portrayal of a college student’s life, because obviously many of these “steps” to become a college student are inflated, but many show the real truth behind being a college student just in a humorous way. Finally, some sort of portrayal of students that depict what it really is like- although they do forget to mention a lot of things outside of schooling. I find this to be apparent in many of sources dealing with the college student life, most do not show the other aspects of college students are living. Job wise, relationships, staying healthy and fit, it all adds up but yet it is never shown. I feel it is important to show all the work students put into their life because we just deserve appreciation. Wouldn’t we all like to have free time and party 24/7, but that is not the case in real life. mqdefault[3]


Favorite Learning Moments?

Throughout this course, I have found a great joy in expanding on my thoughts in certain modern day related topics and blogging about them. Because there has not been many projects this term, I found the blog posts to be some of my favorite learning moments thus far.

  •           During week 3 we explored the history of advertisement. I especially liked this blogging portion and reading others comments on this topic, I felt it was a great start to begin this class and really prefaced what it was going to be about. I liked learning about the history of advertising and comparing our times; ideas that I explored such as “Modern day advertisement really deals with psychology aspects and ways to almost trick the consumer into believing in their product” really was interesting to be. Overall this first started my thought process with popular culture.
  •           Now, my favorite topic that I was able to elaborate on was Week 5: The News, with the prompt being fairly simple: Where do you get your news? As I stated in my blog: “In my eyes, the news and current events involve so much negativity and the amount of horrible stories covered is endless. I understand that it may be important to be educated about the news and current events, and I certainly am with the specific events important to me, but I am very happy and content not being educated about everything that happens in this world.” I truthfully try to stand by what I said because it’s something I truly think about, while writing I was able to reflect on the exact negativity that is shown in our world via news and how I just do not need to be a part of it. As I stated, “trying to fill my mind, body, and soul with positivity is something I’ve been working on, so cutting out most news is essential for me”. I was happy to learn where others get there news and connect with students who share the same thoughts on news as myself. This entire course really engulfed me in popular culture and helped me get a better and richer understanding of the culture we live in and the media that influences it.




Hoverman, K. (2005). A look at the stereotypical college student. The Collegian.

IFHT (Director). (2014). How to be a College Student [Motion Picture].

Landis, J. (Director). (1978). Animal House [Motion Picture].

Lord, P., & Miller, C. (Directors). (2015). 22 Jump Street [Motion Picture].

Murtha, A. (2015). 10 Inaccurate College Kid Stereotypes as Portrayed by the Media. The Marquette Educator.