Starting university can be daunting at the best of times but for many new students it brings the prospect of all things exciting and new; new friends, new experiences and new environments. Freshers this year, however, have Covid-19 to thank for the fact that they might have to wait just that little bit longer to feel like they can experience any of the above. To help deal with the most intense FOMO this generation has ever seen, here’s our top five films and TV shows so that you can vicariously live out your dream student experience. *Disclaimer* Not everything on this list is set in the UK, therefore expect the vocab to switch between ‘university’ and ‘college’!
Fresh Meat (2011-2016)
Coming in at first place is the programme that most honestly displays the quintessential British uni experience, Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. Based in Manchester, the show follows six students who are forced to be housemates after failing to get into halls. If you’re a fresher in halls this year, you can think yourself lucky you weren’t thrown in at the deep end like these misfits were! With relatable quotes and characters that are scarily similar to your own housemates, any fresher can find comfort in the fact that their first meeting with new flatmates isn’t nearly as awkward as when the residents of 28 Hartnell Avenue initially meet. Watching this bunch of fresh meat navigate university in their own way perfectly aligns with the common UK university experience, making this a top recommendation for freshers in the era of Covid. Fresh meat doesn’t just show all the wild nights out and drinking sessions, but also the hilarity of how the people you endure horrific small talk with in first year can actually turn out to be your best friends for life. Where to watch: 4OD, Netflix UK.
National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
If you’re looking for a movie that captures the hedonistic attitudes of American college culture then look no further. Animal House has frequented lists such as this one since its release when it was immediately labelled a classic of the genre. This tale of old-fashioned rivalry and crazy college parties set the blueprint for trouble making fraternities all over the States. Whether this is accurate or not doesn’t really matter to UK students as watching Animal House perfectly demonstrate the differences between the ‘elite’ students and the ‘rejects’ will have freshers feeling grateful they don’t have to endure the horrors and messiness of fraternity life! Whether you watch this movie as an escape or as inspiration for the next time you’re able to go out and party without a care, National Lampoon’s Animal House should be watched by all. Where to watch it: Amazon prime (rent or buy only)
Starter for 10 (2006)
This noughties classic finds itself on the list not just because it is set at the prestigious University of Bristol, but also because it covers so many aspects of university life that every student can relate to. The painful attempts of fitting in, your first interactions with your flatmates and the many different types of people you never imagined yourself meeting are all experienced through the character of Brian Jackson (James McAvoy) who having come to uni on a scholarship from Southend, feels a world away from his usual life. Anyone who perhaps might be feeling homesick or worried about the uncertainty of what is to come will find solace in this film. Whether it’s the dreary small talk or unusual shift of family dynamics the first time you return home, Starter for 10 is a feel-good reminder to not forget where you came from regardless of where you go to study. Where to watch it: Amazon prime.
Monsters University (2013)
What is so great about Monsters University is that unlike most uni themed films, this is a prequel to what was a beloved childhood film for many students. The audience gets to witness the rivalry and gradual birth of one of the most iconic cartoon friendships (and popular halloween costumes) of this generation, meaning the film sort of acts as a reminder to new students to not take time at university for granted. The fact that the audience knows what the future has in store for eventual best friends Mike and Sulley not only teaches viewers to enjoy their uni days while they can, but also to be nice to everyone as you never know who you could end up working with down the line. Where to watch it: Amazon prime (rent or buy only)
22 Jump Street (2014)
As the sequel to the high school based 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street sees two undercover cops go to college in hope of cracking a new case. When they get there however, both find kindred spirits amongst the sea of students and get distracted by the possibilities of college life to say the least. If you haven’t seen this film, it is worth the watch purely for the iconic slam poetry scene that might make you thankful there are no open mic nights you’re able to attend this year. For freshers who are counting down the days until they are told clubs can re-open, holidays can resume and house parties aren’t illegal, watching 22 Jump Street gives them the opportunity to vicariously experience such events through two fully grown adults who missed out on college the first time round. Where to watch it: Amazon prime (rent or buy only)