Sample Reflection Paper: Movies to Watch When You Want to Feel Better

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While the most common types of coursework assigned in college are essays and research papers , newer types of written projects are being assigned in a bid to give students more creative outlets. This sample reflection paper takes the form of a list of movies that students can watch when they are feeling down, depressed, or facing changes in their academics.

Most people consider their years in college as the most colorful and formative time in their life. It is easy to see why this is a popular sentiment. College is where you lay the foundations of your career; where you meet many life-long friends; where you learn to stand on your own feet. These reasons could go on and on. But while being in college is enriching, fun, and exciting, it can also be one of the toughest ordeals you will face in your life. Where there are victories and successes, there are also struggles and low points. In fact, college can be so challenging as to sometimes cause depression in students. Fortunately, there are ways to  take care of your mental health , from seeking professional counseling to setting aside some time for leisure. As a movie lover, I found that one of the easier ways to improve my moods is by watching feel-good movies. Now, there are many lists out there such as those compiling the  best movies on Netflix, the best Christmas movies , and the best movies of the year. But for this list, I want to focus on movies set in high school or college and explain why watching them can help other students feel better.

#1: 3 Idiots (Rajkumar Hirani, 2009)

3 Idiots  is an Indian film that tells the story of three engineering students: Rancho, a brilliant but eccentric nonconformist, Farhan, whose passion for photography clashes with his father’s wishes, and Raju, who sees education as the solution to his poverty. Together, the three friends navigate through the pressures of India’s extremely competitive academic life, and in the process form bonds that last them for the rest of their life. My impression of 3 Idiots is that it is a hilarious and heartwarming take on the value of friendship, hard work, and optimism in life. 

#2: Dead Poets Society (Peter Weir, 1989)

Dead Poets Society  is about an unconventional English teacher named John Keating (played by Robin Williams). A newly-hired teacher at the conservative all-male Welton Academy, Keating encourages his students to cast away their rigidly traditional academic ways and see the world in a different light. In the process, Keating transforms his students into individualists with an appetite for the wonder and beauty that the world has to offer. I believe that there is an excellent reason why this is considered a classic and beloved by critics and viewers alike.  Dead Poets Society tells us that education is more than just about intelligence and professional success but also about passion and living life to the fullest.

#3: Mona Lisa Smile (Mike Newell, 2003)

Mona Lisa Smile tells the story of Katherine Ann Watson (played by Julia Roberts), a new art history teacher at a conservative all-female college in 1953. As a free-spirited and independent woman, Watson encourages her students to open themselves to the possibility of life beyond marriage and children. Her liberal stance, however, is at odds with the school and some of her students whose values are deeply rooted in the restrictive gender norms of the time. While it may be true that it has similarities with Dead Poets Society, Mona Lisa Smile has its own unique feminine and feminist perspective. And whereas the vehicle for learning is art in Dead Poets Society , art serves as the lens through which the students’ view of the world is seen and transformed in Mona Lisa Smile.

#4: Legally Blonde (Robert Liketic, 2001)

When the fashionable Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) enrolls at Harvard Law School in a scheme to win back his ex-boyfriend, she realizes that she may have bitten off more than she can chew as no one takes her seriously. Blonde, fashionable, and bubbly, Elle is the opposite of what the Harvard crowd expects of a serious law student. But Elle proves to be tougher, smarter, and more hardworking than everyone gives her credit for. People are not always what they seem is a saying we hear every time but often forget. But I think that Legally Blonde does a great job at being a funny and inspiring reminder of this basic truth.

#5: An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009)

Jenny Mellor (played by Carey Mulligan) is a 16-year-old talented schoolgirl who dreams of leaving the dullness of school and leading a life of culture and luxury. When she meets David (played by Peter Sarsgaard), an older man who appears capable of giving her everything she wants, Jenny comes close to throwing her life away including her prospects of becoming an acclaimed musician. I find this film poignant, subtle, and brimming with intelligence and I believe that An Education offers a timeless lesson on the importance of not only education but also prudence and patience in dealing with school life.

#6: Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)

Christine MacPherson (played by Saoirse Ronan) is an impetuous senior in Sacramento who yearns to move to the East Coast for college despite her family’s limited financial means. Stubborn and strong-willed, she often clashes with her mother Marion (played by Laurie Metcalf) who constantly reminds her of the opportunities she is given. As graduation nears, Christine, who calls herself “Lady Bird,” must come to terms not only with her college prospects but also with her relationship with Marion and her transformation into a grown woman. I cannot recommend this film enough. Lady Bird is a brilliant portrait of the often chaotic but also formative transition from high school to college.

#7: Back to School (Alan Metter, 1986)

Back to School tells the story of Tony Meloni, a successful retail magnate who enrolls in college in a bid to prevent his son from dropping out of school. Despite being wealthy, Meloni was never able to get a diploma, relying instead on his wits and savviness in growing his business. But as time passes, Meloni comes to understand the value of education and learns to pursue education for the sake of education. Consistently funny and even irreverent in some parts, Back to School offers much insight to anyone who has decided to go back to school at a later age. It resonates with the timeless message that a person is never too old to learn.

#8: The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)

The Breakfast Club follows a day of detention for five students who on the surface cannot be more different from each other: serious and athletic Andrew, snooty and popular Claire, irreverent and rebellious John, smart and nerdy Brian, and quiet and kooky Allison. Thrown together in a room for hours, the five discover similarities, form bonds, and come to respect each other. Widely regarded as one of the defining movies of the 1980s, this movie is perfect for anyone who has ever felt like they do not fit in. It is an homage to uniqueness and a reminder that there are more layers to you than meets the eye.

#9: Liberal Arts (Josh Radnor, 2012)

Jesse Fisher (played by Josh Radnor) is a jaded admissions officer in New York who believes that the years he spent studying in a liberal arts college were the best in his life. While on a visit to his school, he forms a relationship with student Zibby (played by Elizabeth Olsen) but begins to reconsider how he feels about his current life and the past life he has long left behind. Nostalgic, charming, and ultimately eye-opening, Liberal Arts is a vicarious trip down memory lane that will give its viewers still in college reason and courage to face life after school.

#10: Freedom Writers (Richard LeGravenese, 2007)

Erin Gruwell, a newly-hired English teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School in Los Angeles, takes on the tough job of teaching at-risk students. Gruwell soon discovers that not only do the students have little interest in learning, but they are also often part of rival gangs exposed to violence. After earning their trust, she begins the process of ending her students’ racial rivalries and inspiring them to transcend their traumas by pursuing education. Freedom Writers is a testament to the redemptive and transformative power of writing and an inspiring story of rising above the circumstances that weigh people down.


College is a curious mix of exhilaration, happiness, frustration, and labor. For many, it is the best time of their lives, and view it with fondness and longing. For others, it is a deeply challenging period marked by the constant pressure of meeting academic and social expectations. For students who currently find themselves at a low point in their school life, these are comforting, inspiring, and empowering movies that will motivate students to keep going and reach their goals in life. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

While this sample reflection paper takes the form of a simple list of movies that will make students feel better, students can expect to write more formal papers featuring movies. One example is the movie review essay. Another is the theater review essay. If you are overwhelmed by the number of assignments you get, you can always enlist the assistance of professional writers from CustomEssayMeister. Just provide the instructions and they will craft papers that meet your needs.

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