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National Higher Education Day

National Higher Education Day is June 6th, and, as you could guess, we'll be observing the day by watching movies. #NationalHigherEducationDay was started in 2015 to encourage aspiring students to pursue and complete college, along with promoting the idea of more affordable tuition. Grab your favorite dining hall snacks (and cap and gown!?) and check out our top three movies to celebrate higher education!

movies to watch for national higher education day

1) Animal House (1978)

Obviously, we couldn't make this list without including Animal House. Even if you haven't seen it, you're probably familiar with it (or the college movie cliches that ensued--toga parties, absurd fraternity rituals, and panty raids, to name a few). The film follows a rowdy misfit fraternity as it descends lower than "double-secret probation" and engages in incredibly wacky means to stay on campus. We need to add the caveat that this film is very much a product of its time, so it doesn't necessarily hold up to more modern expectations (it includes a mostly male cast, stereotypical depiction of women, dicey situations, etc.) Regardless, this film is very much worth the watch. In fact, in 2001, the US Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Animal House was the highest-grossing comedy of its time and is largely regarded as one of the best comedy films of all time. The film is also credited with making fraternities "cool" again, after Greek Life had been dying out throughout the decade.

2) Good Will Hunting (1997)

While we don't love this one, we couldn't not include it on the list. The writing doesn't always hit the mark for us (we think this is another case of a film being a product of its time); regardless, it's another genre-defining film. And we do love that Good Will Hunting shows that (higher) education comes in many forms. Just because someone's educational journey looks different from the norm, it doesn't make it wrong. And it doesn't make that person any less valuable or worthy. That's why Good Will Hunting really exemplifies the spirit of #NationalHigherEducationDay. The film follows Will, a self-taught graduate-level math genius who was just released from parole. He gets a janitorial job at MIT, where his advanced skills are discovered by a professor. Of course, Will's past consistently catches up with him, straining his (newfound) relationships and life goals. The film won two academy awards (and was nominated for seven more!) and remains an iconic staple of the genre. If for nothing else, this film is worth a watch for the outstanding performance by the late Robin Williams.

3) The Graduate (1967)

Now this is definitely one of our favorites. Another genre-defining film, The Graduate explores what happens after higher education is over. The film follows Ben, a recent grad who has returned back home to live with his parents after earning his bachelor's degree. Feeling no direction in life despite his academic success, he falls into a depressive episode and stumbles into an affair with an older married woman. The masterful cinematography coupled with Simon & Garfunkel's melancholy score create an atmosphere that pulls audiences into Ben's depression and exasperation. We first saw The Graduate in film school... and dang, did that existential crisis resonate a little too hard. Despite its age, this film tells a story of relatable fears, expectations, and dreams. It also has one of the most iconic ending shots in cinema, in which the characters are staring ahead blankly after hopping on a bus with an unknown destination. And what's more graduate-y than that? The film had a total of six Academy Award nominations, including a win for best director, and is still known for its cinematic brilliance.


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