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Jun 02 2016
by Mia Renee Cole

8 Old-School High School Movies You Should Watch Before Graduation

By Mia Renee Cole - Jun 02 2016

We all know and love modern comedies about high school: Mean Girls, She's the Man and High School Musical are some of our favorites, but what classic films are quintessential for high school? How do they capture high school in a different way than the films we are familiar with? These are the 8 old-school films about high school that you should definitely watch before graduation.

1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

This coming-of-age comedy is full of sexual explorations and self-finding by high school freshmen and seniors. Full of stoners, sexual innuendoes and awkward teens working at their local mall, Fast Times is a classic high school comedy. You'll even be surprised to recognize faces like the young Judge Reinhold (who plays the step-dad in all The Santa Clause movies) and Nicholas Cage.

2. The Breakfast Club (1985)

A classic and everyone knows it. The Brat Pack – Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall – star in the film that captures a day of Saturday detention, following five socially-different high school students. This film will make you laugh, cry and feel incredibly awkward in all 97 minutes of its entirety.

3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Most people have seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but it's still a quintessential high school film about, well, skipping school. Check it out for good laughs.

4. FAME (1980)

MGM Pictures

The *original* FAME is not to be missed. Taking place at a performing arts high school, it follows the students' experience as they find themselves all while putting on a show. 

5. Dazed and Confused (1993)

Set in the 1970's, Dazed and Confused stars many of today's most famous actors. The film takes place on the last day of school and features (mainly) rising seniors and freshmen as they test the limits with drugs, friends and sex. 

6. Grease (1978)

The most classic musical of all and, for me, my favorite film about high school, Grease is all about fitting in and finding love. John Travolta and Olivia-Newton John star in the original, though Grease Live! (premiered January of 2016) stars many of our favorite actors (Vanessa Hudgens, Carly Rae Jepsen, Keke Palmer) and is just as good. I'd suggest watching both, and singing along as well.

7. Sixteen Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles features Molly Ringwald as an awkward teen who means to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, while everyone she knows – including her family – forgets it. More of a chick-flick, this film is about getting "the guy" and fitting in, while still being yourself. If you like this movie, I'd also suggest Pretty in Pink, also starring Ringwald.

8. Clueless (1995)

Though this film is just 21 years old, it's no doubt that Clueless is a classic. Starring the late Brittany Murphy, Clueless focuses on high school stereotypes, young love, fitting in, being yourself and, well, everything else associated with high school. It's famous, though, for its one-liners and famous cast.

Lead Image Credit: Universal Pictures

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Mia Renee Cole - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mia Renee is currently the Senior Editor with Fresh U and a student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she is studying Spanish and French. In her free time she enjoys knitting, photography and drinking hot tea while writing on her personal blog. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @miareneecole or her blog at!

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