Getting into college is the hard part. The easy part is having a good time. College is designed to make sure that in between long nights of studying and writing final papers, you have ample time to chill with your friends. Which is why you need a solid soundtrack to keep the party going.
Regardless of why you’re hunting for a college playlist (perhaps you’re back home with your parents and longing for flip-cup-filled days?), I’ve found tons of tunes not only about school life itself, but also about the process of growing up and moving to a new town. And don’t worry, if you’ve already graduated and are feeling nostalgic for the good ol ‘days, I’ve included a handful of bops to bring you back.
Here are the 31 best college songs to date, from throwbacks like “High School Never Ends” by Bowling for Soup and “Graduate” by Third Eye Blind to newer jams like “Clique” by Kanye West and “I Love College” by Asher Roth . By the way, if you didn’t hear Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” at least three times a weekend throughout spring semester, did you even go to school?
1 “Campus” by Vampire Weekend
This upbeat song is all about having a cute lil college crush. Who among us hasn’t spotted someone across campus and instantly fallen in love?
2 “High School Never Ends” by Bowling for Soup
The title of this song really says it all. High school never ends, even when you think you’re a grownup.
3 “I Love College” by Asher Roth
Keg stands, eating dollar slices, and dancing at parties … this song almost makes me want to go back to college. Almost. Asher Roth did get one thing very right, though: “my good friends is all I need.”
4 “I Hate College” by Sam Adams
In response to the Asher Roth song, the king of college music himself Sammy Adams released his own version — all about how he hates the academic part of college but loves the, ahem, social aspects.
5 “Schoolin ‘Life” by Beyoncé
If I’m gonna listen to someone tell me to “make your life what you decide” and also “party ’til the fire marshals shut this sucker down,” it’s gonna be Queen B. And to be quite honest, a healthy balance of those two things is what college is all about.
6 “All Night Longer” by Sammy Adams
The amount of times I played this in college is pretty embarrassing, but IN MY D.NSE, it’s the perfect song to have on in the background while pre-gaming with your crew.
7 “School Spirit” by Kanye West
The song starts off by listing off every frat and sorority-related Greek letter you could think of, and then Kanye gets into not wanting to go to school anymore, so, yeah, you could say the college vibes are strong with this one.
8 “Going Away to College” by Blink-182
All of those high school romances that you thought would last forever (lol) usually come to a screeching halt once you go off to college, and this song dives into the inevitable heartbreak that follows.
9 “College Boy” by J Cole
Every college has someone who thinks they’re a king with a “chick in every class” who wants them. Also, the lyric about going to a girl’s dorm and having her tell you that her room isn’t clean right now … I feel personally called out!
10 “All of the Lights” by Kanye West
I bet you don’t know just how many famous artists collaborated on this song — you ready? Rihanna, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Kid Cudi, Fergie, * and * Elton John, and that’s not even the complete list.
11 “Graduate” by Third Eye Blind
Sure, the ’90s rockers are singing “can I graduate” as a metaphor for, like, growing up, but that’s also the exact same question I would ask myself after every single brutal final exam.
12 “Clique” by Kanye West
College can be a big scary place, but once you find a solid group of BFFs, you feel like you run the whole campus. Let’s be real, you love your ride-or-die college besties as much as Kanye loves Kanye.
13 “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado
No one knows how to capture the vibe of moving on and finding yourself quite like Ms. Furtado. And not to be too on the nose here, but college is when you spread your wings, you know, like a bird!
14 “Started From the Bottom” by Drake
You made it to college and that’s a big freakin ‘deal! And there’s no better song to celebrate that journey than this catchy Drake anthem.
15 “We Looked Like Giants” by Death Cab for Cutie
Skipping morning classes to go hook up with your boo in their teeny tiny car that makes you feel like an oversized human? It may not exactly be everyone’s ideal way to spend a day but it sure makes for a good song.
16 “Frat Star” by Sammy Adams
If anyone actually refers to themselves as a “frat star” IRL, run away. Immediately. Because that person is probably a jerk. I’m speaking from experience.
17 “Beautiful” by Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell Williams
In case you didn’t know, Snoop’s song is all about falling for a college girl he used to go to school with. Heads up, though: He def seems more interested in her long hair and nice bum than her intellect. Sigh.
18 “Sorry” by Justin Bieber
Every single college party you go to is guar-an-TEED to play this song at least once. Maybe even twice. It’s just, like, the laws of social gatherings.
19 “Gasolina” by Daddy Yankee
Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure “Gasolina” is the official song of all college parties. Even if you have zero clue what the lyrics mean (y’all should have paid more attention in Spanish class!), There’s a zero percent chance you can resist shaking your booty when this jam comes on.
20 “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers
Question: is there a better feeling than when “Mr. Brightside” starts booming through the speakers and everyone begins scream-singing every lyric? No, there is not!
21 “Young” by Kenny Chesney
If country is more your jam, Kenny Chesney has got you covered with this number that’s all about being young and fearless while cutting class and sipping on discount beer.
22 “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen
Fine, you might think that Springsteen is singing about high school here, but the sentiment definitely applies to college too. “Glory days well they’ll pass you by / glory days in the wink of a young girl’s eye?” That couldn’t be more true about your on-campus years! They really do fly by. * wipes away tear *
23 “My Old School” by Steely Dan
I can’t tell you how many times I heard this song before I realized it was about a drug bust at college — Bard College in New York, to be exact. The! more! you! know!
24 ‘Don’t Go Back to Rockville “by REM
This song has got summer romance written all over it. Mike Mills wrote it as a plea for his then-girlfriend to not return to Rockville, Maryland, “and waste another year.”
25 “Party on Fifth” by Mac Miller
There’s nothing more college than hearing about a random party that’s happening somewhere, gathering up your friends, and heading over. Formal invitation? Nah, not necessary.
26 “The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls
This is all about moving on and getting out of town, which is basically what a lot of us did going to college. It was a time to be free of parental authority, but also free of the more serious responsibilities of adulthood. Ah, good times.
27 “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus
Yes, I know this isn’t specifically about college. But you’d be lying if you say you went to college in LA and didn’t play this at least once on the flight or road trip there. Also, homesickness and parties are both part of the college experience.
28 “College Kids” by Relient K
College is great and all, but sometimes it really isn’t — especially when you remember your student loans. So here’s an angsty tune to release some of that frustration and pent-up stress.
29 “Spring Break Anthem” by The Lonely Island
Spring break is one of the most defining, quintessential experiences college life has to offer. And The Lonely Island pretty much sums it up perfectly in this parody of an anthem.
30 “NO” by BTS
BTS has always been about messaging in their songs, and this was from their “bad boy” rebellious phase. It’s basically all about questioning societal norms, including the formal education system — which you probably constantly do / did in university.
31 “Double Dutch Bus” Cover by Raven-Symoné
This song cover was featured in the underrated classic Disney family movie College Road Trip. And while the song is a little more primary or middle school, if you watched the movie you’ll know that Melanie (Raven-Symoné) sang this on a tour bus when she and her family got sidetracked on their trip to college.
Jasmine Ting Jasmine is a journalist struggling to adult by day …
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