The Wrong Message
We like Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. They’re both decent character actors and Rogen is funny. We’ve seen a number of his movies. Efron, in our opinion, is for teenagers and cougar moms.
We love a good movie, too, especially those that really make us laugh. We just feel Neighbors, like most college-themed movies Hollywood pumps out anymore, delivers an unhealthy message to its target audience. Future and current college students are bombarded by Hollywood’s skewed image of the college life. Both movies and sitcoms alike portray the raging all-nighters of partying and drinking, the non-stop fun and antics that would put most adults in jail. Neighbors continues this portrayal of college.
College can be a lot of fun and many have experiences they’ll never have anywhere else in any other time of their lives. College also includes long hours in lectures, cramming for exams and endless numbers of papers. Other than The Big Bang Theory, one wouldn’t know from anything else in movies and on TV that success in college requires hard work.
What is the purpose of college? Contrary to what college presidents would have us believe, it is not to make them rich. Contrary to what Hollywood would have us believe, it is not to extend the adolescences of someone who has already reached adulthood. College exists to educate students.
Can Hollywood still write a decent script that shows the honest struggles and rewards of earning a college degree? Can Hollywood produce a movie about college that’s not just another twist on Animal House? Could With Honors, The Paper Chase and Rudy be made today?
Who’s Paying for It, Anyway?
We sound old. That will be the accusation of those who disagree with us. We have to admit all day drinking and all night parties that result in next day hangovers no longer sound like fun. Regardless of the wisdom of our age, college is too expensive to waste on a four-year bender.
The cost of a four year, in-state education is about $121,000. There aren’t many 18 year olds with the funds to pay for all of that on their own. Insert mom and dad. A false societal notion, also exacerbated by Hollywood, is that it’s mom and dad’s responsibility to pay for their kid’s college education. There was a time when most students worked their way through college. Working one’s way through college is no longer feasible, but do parents work eight hours a day, five days a week, and 200 days a year, so their kid can “party all the time, party all the time?” Is paying for college a wise investment when retirement accounts are underfunded?
Even if a student is on their own for college, is tuition paid with student loans? Why take on that amount of debt just to drink, play cornhole and pass out? One would do better to borrow the $121,000, spend half on partying and invest the rest.
No So Great Expectations
We understand that movies are created to escape reality and that if we want reality we should watch a documentary. Our concern, though, is that movies such as Neighbors feed a false sense of reality that many young people adopt.
The truth is college isn’t a breeze. It’s hard work to be successful and get good grades. College is a great opportunity to find oneself, grow into adulthood and get established. It’s not a 24/7 party. Some colleges are ranked as party schools, but more and more colleges now ask underperformers to leave. Schools don’t want party kids who pull down the average GPA of the student body. Low GPAs decrease a college’s appeal to prospective students and top professors.
Most college graduates aren’t handed a $65,000 a year job just because they graduated from StateU. $65,000 is nearly 25 percent over the average household income and unemployment is high. Jobs at that starting salary don’t go to graduates with a 2.0 GPA. They go to candidates with 3.0+ GPAs and extracurricular activities, such as internships and volunteering that increase their value.
The image that Hollywood portrays of the great post- college life does exist. It exists for those who work for it (and the 1 percent). For those that don’t have mommy or daddy to land them a six-figure job, which is most of us, the middle of the road is nearly inevitable. If you want the six-figure job, the party school likely isn’t for you.
How to Really Get Ahead
Our intent isn’t to scare people or be judgmental. We just want a reality check. To get ahead, most must plan appropriately and have a good work ethic. The saying goes, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” What this means is that those who put in the blood, sweat and tears, reap the rewards. Check out our book #MoneyConscious Student for more help to create a plan for college and stick to it.
We were in college once, too. Then, just as now, we liked to have a good time. Have a good time, but as with all things in life, balance is necessary. Become a well rounded graduate so that you can be successful at your future job and still hold a conversation with the hot chick or the tech geek. You will work with both after you graduate and you will be better positioned for success than Teddy Sanders ever will be.