15 Fictional Colleges and their Real-Life Counterparts

When watching movies or TV about college, you may not always think about the story behind the school depicted. Often, they are based on or filmed at a real-life campus. Check out our list to learn about the real story behind fictional colleges.

1. Camden College:
Writers Bret Easton Ellis, Jill Eisenstadt, and Jonathan Lethem all use Camden College in their works. This college is a fictional liberal arts college, noted for being one of the most expensive in America. It’s likely based on the writers’ shared alma mater, Bennington College, which was once known as the most expensive in America as well.Featured: American Psycho (2000)
2. Necessary Roughness:
Necessary Roughness, starring Sinbad and Scott Bakula, was a football film at Texas State University. At the time, Texas State University didn’t exist, but Southwest Texas State University changed its name to Texas State in 2003. However, the “death penalty” experienced by the team in the film is similar to what Southern Methodist University, also in Texas, experienced in 1987 for team violations.Featured: Necessary Roughness (1991)
3. University of Oxford:
The University of Oxford has been featured in several popular novels, all under fictional names. The novels often have thinly veiled references to the University, but go under a different name in order to offer the author license to share activities within the college.

Tom Brown at Oxford (1861)
4. University of Ithaca:
Road Trip’s home base was at the University of Ithaca, based on Ithaca College, although filming was done at Emory, Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia.Featured: Road Trip (2000)
5. Empire State University:
Empire State University is used in the Marvel Comics Universe, particularly in Spider-Man. The University is modeled after Columbia University with NYU’s Greenwich Village location.Featured: Spiderman and His Amazing Friends (Vol.1)
6. Windsor College:
Neve Campbell and her friends experienced horrors on the campus of Windsor College in Scream 2, filmed at Georgia Tech, UCLA, and Agnes Scott College.Featured: Scream 2 (1997)
7. Columbus University:
The students of Columbus University learn about integration on campus in Higher Learning, which was modeled on Ohio State, but filmed at UCLA.Featured: Higher Learning (1995)
8. ESU:
The ESU Timberwolves in The Program made several locations their home, including Duke, the University of South Carolina, Boston College, the University of Michigan, and the University of Iowa. Miami University and University of Michigan coaching Legend Bo Schembechler, Jr. makes a cameo appearance in the film.Featured: The Program (1993)
9. Minnesota State University:
Craig T. Nelson was head coach of the Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles on Coach. The show was originally planned to be at the University of Minnesota, but the school backed out of being the namesake.Featured: Coach (1989 – 1997)
10. Faber College:
National Lampoon’s Animal House is based on experiences from writers and producers of the movie, Chris Miller at Dartmouth, Harold Ramis at Washington University in St. Louis, and Ivan Reitman at McMaster University, each with their own fraternity experience.Featured: National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
11. California University:
Saved By The Bell: The College Years was set at the generically named California University, but it was supposedly modeled after Berkeley.Featured: Saved By The Bell (1993 – 1994)
12. Adams College:
Revenge of the Nerds’ Adams College was full of nerds, with an incredible computer science department. The school wasn’t based on any real life campus, but scenes for the movie were shot at the University of Arizona in Tucson.Featured: Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
13. Harrison University:
Thirty-somethings can relive their college days in a Harrison University fraternity, which is based on the Rochester Institute of Technology. However, the film was set in Lost Angeles county, and filmed at UCLA, USC, and Harvard.Featured: Old School (2003)
14. Coolidge College:
Van Wilder seemed quite at home on the campus of Coolidge College. The college doesn’t seem to be based on any campus in particular, but the principal location was UCLA, with basketball scenes at Cal State Northridge.Featured: Van Wilder (2002)
15. Grand Lakes University:
Rodney Dangerfield went back to school to perfect the Triple Lindy at Grand Lakes University. The main filming location was actually The University of Wisconsin-Madison.Featured: Back to School (1986)

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