Best Movies for Graduates

Best Movies for Graduates

With graduation fast approaching for seniors at Dakota, many students’ high school days are coming to an end. Graduation comes with bittersweet memories for teachers and students alike, with eagerness to move on and sadness that it is ending. What better way to capture that emotion than in a film?  

Movies are great at helping people come to terms with change and adjust to their life as it adapts. And graduation is a TREMENDOUS change. Listed below, in no particular order, are seven movies that students should watch before graduating high school- they come with lessons, laughs, and advice for fresh graduates, and may help to soothe any anxieties students could be feeling about moving on from school. They are also listed with their run-times.

  • Legally Blonde (2001, 96 minutes)
    • Summary: A headstrong and fashion-inclined blonde from the west coast decides to go to Harvard Law school, taking on sexism and doubters of her intelligence- before proving them all wrong and achieving her goals.
    • Take-away: Accomplishments in life do not come easy and must be worked for, and you should not let the people around you stop you from reaching your full potential.  
  • I Love You Beth Cooper (2009, 102 minutes)
    • Summary: Dennis Coovermen confesses his love to a girl during his valedictorian speech at his high school graduation. The twist? This girl has never noticed him or spoken to him before. This puts into motion a night of chaos and a final chance for high school hijinks and fun before college.
    • Take-away: Sometimes to get what you want you just have to be brave. Life is more fun when you are not living in fear, and you are not as cowardly as you think.  
  • Ferris Buellers Day Off (1986, 103 minutes)
    • Summary: A high school student plans the ultimate ditch-day with his friends, all while trying to avoid being caught by the school and their parents. Faking reservations, visiting museums, and much more, the friendship trio makes the most out of one of their last days in school.  
    • Take-away: Appreciate the life you are living now and make the most of it instead of constantly looking toward the future.  
  • Superbad (2007, 113 minutes)
    • Summary: Two childhood friends about to graduate from high school and move onto different colleges are given one last chance to have the perfect night to end their high school career- which so far has been embarrassing, hard, and consisting of nothing noteworthy.  
    • Take-away: Being the “different” kid is not bad in every way and can be used to your advantage sometimes. And self-confidence is necessary to form deep and lasting relationships.  
  • High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008, 112 minutes)
    • Summary: The last installment to this series, this movie is about the conclusion of the protagonist’s time in high school, specifically their last musical. Having to face a reality where all of them split up for college, this movie is full of emotional and sentimental moments.  
    • Take-Away: Change is scary, but it is okay to grow up and there is no way to avoid it.  
  • American Graffiti (1973, 112 minutes)
    • Summary: The last night of summer before starting college, two best friends fall into an adventure of drag-racing and other adrenaline-inducing activities for one last wild memory before departing the next day.  
    • Take-away: The future is inescapable, but your relationships will help you through it. 
  • Booksmart (2019, 105 minutes)
    • Summary: On their last day of high school, two high achieving, rule-following girls decide to break loose and live it up as a farewell to the school days that are now behind them.
    • Take-away: Everything does not have to be taken so seriously, and sometimes you just need to let go to grow as a person.  

The themes of these movies are all extremely relevant to highschoolers- things about how you have to embrace change and the future, appreciate where you are, and believe in yourself are things that all students should know. Each one of these films can teach students a good lesson about friendships, self-identity, or life itself. And if nothing else, they can help add to your excitement of getting out of here and walking away with your diploma!  

I asked some Dakota students if they had ever seen any of the movies, and some of them had. Here are some of your peer’s favorite movie from the list, and if they would recommend it for other high schoolers to watch:  

“I think I Love You Beth Cooper is like, one of the best movies ever. It’s funny, a little sad- but mostly funny. It’s a total classic and I would tell every high school senior to watch it. Every high schooler in general” -Lily Treash, 12 

“As far as learning lessons go, you can’t learn as much from any of these movies as you can from Ferris Buellers Day Off. It’s just so good- watching it gives you that feeling of excitement and an urge to change your life up to be more random and fun. It shows that you can’t just let the ‘good days’ pass by and that we should be making the most out of every day we have” – Bella Curatolo, 12  

“The movie Superbad is just such a classic, you can’t go wrong. Coming of age moments spliced together with the most hilarious acting from Michael Cera. I for sure recommend it to anyone graduating soon” -Anna Sulewski, 12  

Legally Blonde is my comfort movie! Elle Woods is such an inspired and motivated woman- whenever I’m struggling to get my homework done, I think of her! I’m not a senior but I can see why seniors should watch this. Lots of motivation for those going onto college or university.” – Lauren Singer, 10  

The credits are rolling on many seniors’ high school days, and the important thing to take away from school is not the silly stuff like homework and sports, but the lessons you learned along the way- like the lessons reflected in the movies above. Watching one, or some, or all of these movies can help make the transition out of high school just a little easier to deal with.