10 Songs to Make You Glad You’re Still in College (Or Wish You Were)

Music Lists

It’s still early in September, so if you’re enrolled in college, you’ve probably just had a rough couple of weeks. Whether you struggled to move your crappy futon into a too-small dorm or had to drop a hundred dollars on a single textbook, you might be thinking that higher education just isn’t your thing. But before you drop your classes and try to make it as an actor, check out these 10 songs that embrace the college lifestyle while your debt accumulates.

10. “School Spirit” – Kanye West
“Back to school and I hate it there, I hate it there
Everything I want I gotta wait a year, I wait a year
This n— graduated at the top of my class
I went to Cheesecake, he was a motherfucking waiter there”

The skit before “School Spirit” on Kanye West’s The College Dropout is a frank but true discussion about the job outlook after graduation. It’s easy to get down on your outlook, but West’s “School Spirit” helped plenty of students fight fire with fire in their struggle to finish school, and maybe even made them mad enough to find some quality jobs afterward.

9. “We’re Going To Be Friends” – The White Stripes
“Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell
brand new shoes, walking blues, climb the fence, book and pens
I can tell that we are gonna be friends”

You know the moment — you’re talking to someone you’ve only just met, but things start to click fast. It can come from food eccentricities, tastes in film, your favorite dinosaur or doing karate in the garage; but there’s nothing quite like meeting a person who you know you’re going to be pals with for a long time. And the White Stripes’ “We’re Going to Be Friends” is the too-pleasant musical manifestation of that moment.

8. “We Looked Like Giants” – Death Cab for Cutie
“When every Thursday I’d brave those mountain passes
And you’d skip your early classes and we’d learn how our bodies worked”

There’s nothing quite as wonderful as discovering a new love other than realizing that your psych professor forgets to take attendance on Thursday mornings. On “We Looked Like Giants,” frontman Ben Gibbard reflects on visiting a sweetheart from his hometown that took the day off to further her education.

7. “TV Party” – Black Flag
“We’re gonna have a TV party tonight
We’re gonna have a TV party alright
We’ve got nothing better to do than watch TV and have a couple of brews”

Who cares if Black Flag’s “TV Party” is maybe a little tongue-in-cheek? The Henry Rollins-fronted punks created the perfect hanging-with-your-bros-or-girls anthem, not even on purpose. The simple, chanting verse pairs perfectly with wasted nights spent hanging with your best buds, and Jerry and Kramer.

6. ”(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” – Beastie Boys
“Your mom busted in and said, ‘What’s that noise?’
Aw, mom you’re just jealous – it’s the Beastie Boys”

It doesn’t matter who you hang out with. Whether you’re a nerd, jock or hipster, someone is bound to crash your “party” at some point. It’s inevitable for the commuters that are still living at home, and there’s all the proof you need in “Fight For Your Right.” So when you hear a booming flashlight pounding at your door, your awful roommate scares away your go-to Dungeon Master, or you’re 21 and your parents are still telling you you need a haircut, look to the Beastie Boys’ defining track “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” as your guiding light. Sure, it’s a party anthem, but it doubles as a young person’s declaration of independence.

5. “Campus” – Vampire Weekend
“Then I see you, you’re walking cross the campus
Cruel professor studying romances
How am I supposed to pretend I never want to see you again?”

The great thing about going to a big college is that, if you make an effort, you’re bound to find at least one person who really gets you. The bad news is, that feeling probably won’t last four years. “Campus” by Vampire Weekend talks about seeing that person on campus over and over again post-break up. So, why is it on this list? Because after a little pouting with Vampire Weekend, you’ll realize you’re single and you’re going out with your girls tonight.

4. “I Wish I Could Go Back to College” – Avenue Q
“I wish I could go back to college. Life was so simple back then.
What would I give to go back and live in a dorm with a meal plan again”

Although the song “I Wish I Could Go Back to College” appears within the musical Avenue Q, its message rings just as loud and clear out of context. It acts as a warning to students, and a painfully real reminder to grads that life gets more complicated after the point in your life when your roommate’s snoring is your biggest concern.

3. Andrew W.K.’s Entire Catalog
Maybe it’s an obvious pick, but it’s too good not to include. For starters, Andrew W.K.’s discography reads like a hastily written flier for a kegger. With titles like “Party Hard,” “Party ‘Til You Puke,” “Party Party Party” and “Long Live the Party,” W.K. has solidified himself as an all-inclusive authority for partying. Don’t believe it? Check out his Twitter for daily party tips and this clip of “Party ‘Til You Puke” where he pumps up a crowd from a wheelchair.

2. “We Rule the School” – Belle and Sebastian
“Do something pretty while you can, don’t fall asleep
Skating a pirouette on ice is cool
Do something pretty while you can
Don’t be a fool, reading the gospel to yourself is fine”

For a lot of people, college is about finally figuring out their identity. Belle and Sebastian’s “We Rule the School” is evidence of finding that self realization and having the confidence to back it up. Lines like “skating a pirouette on ice is cool” and “reading the gospel to yourself is fine” don’t sound so inspiring on paper, but when sung in front of a building piano part, they’re more self-assured than anything Lady Gaga could churn out.

1. “Outta My System” – My Morning Jacket
“Oh lord I’d never do it now I know what I ain’t missing
Glad I went and got it all outta my system
The luster of youth versus married security
I’m glad I’m here now, but just between you and me
I had to get it out and make the deals
And learn to know how it feels, but that it ain’t real”

This summer, My Morning Jacket released a sadly honest tale of a guy who, in his youth, “smoked drugs,” wound up in jail and didn’t regret a thing. And for most people, the time spent away at a university is the right time to do that. “Outta My System” has almost too-relatable lyrics in lines like “I’m glad I’m here now, but just between you and me, I had to get it out and make the deals and learn to know how it feels” — not that you’d ever tell your kids that.

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