College Portrayal in Society

By Kenya Hall Popular Culture. Daneen B.

college portrayal in society    college meme

Nowadays society is so judgmental of the 21st century college student. Society often perceives college students as arrogant and lazy fools. We are believed to be drunken, sex driven crazies in the pre stages of alcoholism. But what society doesn’t understand is that we spend four years trying to map out the rest of our lives through education, and although some benders get us through the term here and there, we are much more than our stereotype. When I started college at Portland State University I knew what would be my biggest distraction. The IDEA of college.aint nobody I thought that college would be this fun social event that everyone did because partying would play a big factor in it I thought that college would be just another life experience.  As I continued on with my education I realized that my idea of college isn’t what college is at all. We go to school to invest into our future selves. I was coaxed into the idea of going to college based on the television shows I watched. Being a first generation college student, I had no one to tell me what to expect, my only other resource was watching tv and basing what is a big life decision on fictitious people. In this way, society had encouraged the idea of going to college by portraying it in a way that glorified the young adult experience, instead of showing what college was really like. Because society sees college students in a negative way, they are also shown on tv to be the exact stereotype that we are seen as.

My findings for my primary sources were the television show Greek which aired on Abc Family, The L.A. Complex and the song I Love College made famous by Asher Roth. Being in college I have learned so much about myself, others, and what college life is truly like. Those facebook memes that talk about living on 20 cent ramen, and being broke are definitely part of the college struggle, and if you never experience that part of college then you haven’t had the right college experience. I have learned that I am not super woman, I cant be in more places that one, and I cannot commit to every college related activity that I intended on doing. I have learned that you cannot rely on other people to get your responsibilities done. But I am a student who is trying to work at the best of my abilities. Being a college student can have its ups and downs with finals, midterms and online class work, you never have much time to party, but when the opportunity presents itself, you obviously take it. The unfortunate part about that is that society only focuses on the idea of college students getting drunk and partying and being too hung over to make it to classes, but we work our butts off to get assignments in, in a timely matter.

My first source is the ABC Family show Greek. I feel that most shows or movies that portray college are inaccurate. For instance the movie 22 Jump street show Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill at crazy frat parties and drinking giant gallons of milk while the entire crowd cheers them on. They go to wild spring break parties and football games but no footage of them actually learning somethinggreek.

College students get judged for their extreme partying, also it gives high school students false hope of what college actually is. In the show Greek it follows a college freshman named Rusty Cartwright as he tries to get through the hustle and bustle of being an outsider in this huge Greek “culture” that his popular sister belongs in.

I think that this show portrays college through the point of view of college freshman because it accurately shows the struggle of college and having to work hard to get where you want to  be in life. You see Rusty’s coming of age story as he finds his place In the college world. You see him making many mistakes, and the  show doesn’t portray college as rainbows and butterflies, it is the real deal. It goes over obstacles and challenges that every college student faces at some point in their college career.

Another portrayal of college would be the song “I love college” made famous by Asher Roth. Its purpose is to give an idea of how partying in college would be, and although it seems like a cliché this song is pretty accurate for college freshman, its an artifact to me because when I first started college I focused more on partying and not my education, I think that it is definitely something that you grow out of by your senior year. This song accurately describes how society sees college students . love college

Another  show that is more influential to college life/ adulthood is the The L.A. Complex The L.A. Complex is about a girl who, after completing her college career moves to L.A. to look for a job to start her acting career. She moves into a complex with other people trying to make their way into stardom, and they all struggle in their own ways. All thinking that they should be more privileged than the other which describes to each their own “complex” of living in Los Angeles. The audience is people who also struggle with finding work after their undergrad. Its purpose is to show that not everything is at arm’s reach; you have to work for what you want, and I think that once you get into a certain stage In your college career that becomes more of a realistic fact.

Memorable learning experience

My most memorable/favorite learning moment was the advertising lesson. I enjoyed it because there are so many ways to be tricked into mainstream consumerism. Someone could be convincing you that you need something or that you need to do something with subliminal messages that we don’t even notice. I shared a few videos about how smoking is bad with the #truth videos and my point that I was showing was that big marketers target a specific age group and target what they would captivate their interest. The commercials have funny memes and dancing and music, but the message that they are trying to portray is that smoking is bad for your health. Although they are trying to relay an important message, they hide it with funny sayings and music.

Although I think that it is trivial that most marketers are in the same line of persuasion it is also interesting that you can almost coax people to see something without them even seeing the thing that they are supposed to be seeing.aint nobody 2

Another memorable learning experience was reading about how the boy in the shoe shop didn’t want to buy a certain type of shoe because he was worried about the child labors and the people who created them, wanting to not contribute to the harsh reality of how a lot of our products are made. That one spoke out to me because someone at that age felt like the things that happen in the world that we live in are so unfair, and especially him being a young adult and having that realization means something. If everyone or at least a majority of the world thought that way, who knows where we would be.



11 thoughts on “College Portrayal in Society

  1. I agree with your choice of topic on how college students are portrayed in popular culture as party animals and young in-experienced people who don’t take anything in life serious. Although being broke and eating soup that costs twenty cent a piece on a regular basis is a universal relation that most college students should be able to relate to. Unless the student comes from an extremely financially stable background. Being a college student, my experience is not at all like the image that is constantly being displayed. Granted I started my college education a few years after graduation from high school, so I went through my party faze before I began my college career. Unlike some of my friends who moved away to attend college clear across the country and who never had a shortage of wild stories from on-campus parties. One thing that I can relate to with my friends who have had different college experiences than myself is that the work load that can be a bit rough. Having to put in many hours into homework and mastering time-management is a skill all of us had to acquire.

  2. hello Kenyajh1

    I am interested in your topic College Portrayal in society. You have find really good source to support your topic. As a collage students, I agree with point that collage students portrayal in the popular culture. Have to say that the media of College Students’ description and reality is still a big gap. From my experience in collage, I do not have time to go to a lot of parties, my time is occupied by my homework and work. I also found some people around me very much like me. there is no way we can be as collage students life in the image.

  3. I really liked this post because mine was a little similar. Coming to college I definitely based my opinions on what the media had put out there. But now that I’m actually here I have learned so much about myself, what I like and don’t like, how to be on my own, long lasting friends, pretty much everything that I didn’t think I was going to find in college. Although college can be a social event and can have those aspects that you except to see when you go to college each college is different, such as Portland State. Its not like many of the other traditional colleges which I like at sometimes and don’t like. But overall the media can put this image in your head that can make you think one thing and have it be completely different! Sometimes its even a disappointment.

  4. Hello Kenya,
    Your topic of college portrayal in society had interested me in the sense that this identity of a college student applies to all of us in this course. In common with you, I am also the first to go to college in my family so having no prior guidance or perspective
    on what college was actually like, I too was convinced that college was a splitting image of what the media portrays it to be. Now being a sophomore in college I have had first hand experience and let me tell you it is nothing like what I had expected. I am a pre-med student here at Portland State, I spend a lot of my time studying or volunteering and don’t have too much time to party and do the stereotypical college student activities. I have realized that I am not the stereotypical party college girl and that college isn’t all about the partying aspect. I guess maybe I take a more serious approach. I think your sources were extremely interesting and complimented your thesis Great job and thanks for sharing!
    – Jasmine

  5. I really love the topic and the research you have done here. It is well thought out and has some very good sources. I can understand this being quite applicable to some college students, however, it definitely is not as accurate on a broader scale. From my college experience, a lot of people are not falling into stereotypical college student roles. Most of my friends and the students I know are very hard workers with jobs, good grades, who really don’t have much time to mess around and get into trouble. It is certainly a complex topic with many differing view points. Great job!

  6. Hi Kenya,
    Very interesting topic!! I loved reading your blog. It is so true that the media portrays college so much more differently. I, too am a first generation college student so I came to PSU not knowing what to expect out of college. But, it is so different from what the media shows; schools may different and it definitely depends on the students. For one, some students are there strictly to learn, get a degree and start their career to be very successful. I guess some people just have different college experiences but for the most part, it’s not as much partying as we see in the media. Thanks for sharing your findings and thoughts!

  7. Hi Kenya,
    Your topic of the portrayal of college students in media is related to my own experience. I am also a first generation of my family to go into college, especially a big university like PSU. I also came from another country so I had no clue how college in America works. I always believed in what I saw on movies, tv shows or music videos. I thought that college students were all about having fun, getting drunk, doing dumb things and exploring life. Part of me was excited because I thought I was going to have the time of my life but part of me was scared because I didn’t know if going to college means getting drunk and partying then how am I going to success in the future or how am I even going to graduate? Then I got into college and realized that all the portrayals and images on the media were wrong. It was almost the opposite from it. College is more than having fun, partying and drinking. College is more about having more responsibilities and adapting to the adult life. College is not as fun as I thought. I go to school full time, take 16 credits everytime and I work 30 hours every week. My life suddenly got so busy. I don’t even have time to hang out with friends and family so let’s not talk about partying. I have been drown in so much responsibilities like going to school without skipping any class, finishing hw on time, doing well at my job, paying bills, organizing time. The media needs to show a more realistic side of being a college student to help high school students to prepare and know what they will go through.

  8. Kenya, I really love your topic because it’s well related to most college students’ experience. My little cousins always think that being a college student is very cool because you can skip classes and party whenever you want, but they never get to see how much we have suffered to manage our finance and ace a class. I’m very frustrated, but, at the same time, I’m glad that every person that I’ve met is very hardworking and thoughtful. Thanks a lot for bringing this up!

  9. I related heavily to this posting as I am also a first generation college student in my family. Portrayals of college in the media convinced me that I would be partying constantly on a big campus with frat houses. Thankfully, this assumption was shattered when I arrived at Portland State. I prefer the commuter school setting to the “small, college town”. Although PSU is different from most schools, I did notice one stereotype being perpetuated in the dorms: the broke college student. This is probably the most valid of the college stereotypes because it’s completely universal. I like how you described surviving off Top Ramen as a right of passage, I agree with you on that.

  10. Hi Kenya! your topic instantly caught my eye good job! Its funny how media portrays things they really take it out of proportion in order to instantly get more views who knows. I am a first generation so I had no idea what college would be like! I literally thought it was not going to be that hard and your teachers would go up and beyond to help you. You always went to parties and their was always a sense of adventure, oh and that FAFSA would cover all my tuition. Was I wrong. Glad you made this paper many will need to read this!

  11. Hey kenya, I really like this topic. I feel like it’s super relevant and totally relatable. I definitely agree that we have to work for what we want. It’s so easy to believe that just by getting a college degree we will be successful and everything will just fall into place after that: job, house, car, family, etc. But that’s really not the case nowadays, especially, taking into consideration the factor of college loans and the average amount of student debt incurred after graduating college. Also, since more and more people are getting college degrees the job market is becoming even more competitive and exclusive.

    I also agree with your idea of the stereotypical college life. College meant parties every weekend, easy care free living, and going to any college as long as you get accepted; I was definitely shocked when I found out the reality behind this. Thanks so much for your post, it was super easy to read and relate to.


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