Real or nah? ‘Monsters University’ versus real-life universities

By Waldy Diez and Collin Brennan (USA Today College) – Growing up, you’ve seen tons of movies depicting what it’s like to be in college. From the determination of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and the desire to make parents proud in Accepted to the aca-awesome song battles in Pitch Perfect and the rowdy frat boys in Animal House, cinema has been there to tell you what college is all about.

As you can imagine, not everything you see in movies is actually real and is exaggerated the majority of the time. Here at USA TODAY, we will be breaking down a blockbuster each week, telling you what you can expect and what you shouldn’t hold your breath.

This week’s movie? Monsters University. A 2013 Disney Pixar collaboration, this movie does a good job portraying what it’s like to be in college. Let’s break it down.


Applying to college is a scary process. But waiting to hear back is even worse. You’re obsessively logging into your application portal and checking your mailbox for the coveted “big envelope” (do those still exist anymore?)  —  even when it’s nowhere near the college acceptance date deadline.

Monsters University captures that nervous anticipation and post-acceptance excitement well. It’s one of the best feelings in the world knowing the college of your dreams recognized all of your hard work and determination.


The first time the movie’s two main characters (and roommates), James P. Sullivan — who goes by Sully — and Mike Wazowski, meet is a little strange, to say the least. Sully loses his pet pig and immediately recruits Mike for the rescue mission.

While meeting your own roommate and new friends (with luck) won’t involve chasing down a rogue pet, you will be nervous and things might be a little awkward. This is a normal. You’re in a new environment, just like everybody else. Make the best of it by putting yourself out there. Say hi, join a club or consider joining a recreational sport.


The movie’s library scene is actually part of a competition Mike and Sully participate in. Nonetheless, the basic message holds true: Be quiet in the library.

Library time is sacred to many students. For many, it is one of the only places where homework and other projects can be completed in peace. Finals week and midterm season are some of the most stressful weeks for students, so the library is bound to be packed.

While you likely won’t get thrown you out of a window and into a pond if you’re being too loud, librarians and other students do have the right to ask you to either be quiet or leave.

But not all libraries are strictly quiet. Most have areas for groups to socialize and work together at normal speaking volume. Libraries also have quiet study rooms and secluded cubbies so you can work away from the world.


Greek Week can bring out the competitive beast in students — but all in the name of good fun. You won’t have to navigate a maze of toxic prickle balls or scare children for points like the Monsters Universitystudents, but you might come across a few obstacles courses or dance competitions along the way.

Greek students aren’t the only ones to compete against each other in college. Various student organizations have intramural or club sports teams each semester. This gives you the opportunity to meet new people outside of your friend group and let off a little steam — not to mention it’s a nice break from the daily academic grind.

Collin Brennan and Waldy Diez are USA TODAY video interns.

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