A picture of clouds that says, Legally Blonde: 7 Underlying Messages for Graduate Students!

Legally Blonde is a 2001 movie where a young college graduate, Elle Woods, follows her ex-boyfriend to Law School in order to win him back. Elle sets out to prove herself as a serious academic, but quickly realizes that earning her J.D. will be harder than she anticipated.
This heartwarming comedy has 7 lessons that can be applied to your real-life graduate school experience. 

One— Attend graduate school for yourself, and what you enjoy!

The movie begins with Elle's long-time boyfriend ending their relationship. He tells her that he needs a more serious woman to assist him with his political career, and with Harvard Law school.  Turning that frank and demeaning statement into motivation -- Elle was determined to get into law school to win back her ex-boyfriend. Although she was successful in obtaining her degree, I want to express the importance of making sure you are going to graduate school for what you love! The decisions you make regarding your area of study as a graduate student set you up for the rest of your life.   At the end of your time in a graduate program here at NYU, you will either continue your educational endeavors or move into a career aligned with your degree program. Make sure what you focus on is something that you truly love and enjoy. 

Two— Always be prepared, you never know when it’ll be your time to shine. 

On the first day of class, Elle did not have the assignment completed and was ultimately kicked out of class for her lack of preparation.  In graduate school, a lack of preparation on your end does not warrant an emergency on someone else's.  It is the student's responsibility to be prepared for class and even be proactive with their studies.  Here at NYU, there are a lot of resources for your success, the student just has to go utilize them -- you never know when it'll be your time to shine. 


A picture of the character, Elle, sitting in class around her fellow students.

Three— Even when it gets hard, stick to it and keep the faith in yourself. Everything is possible with hard work.

Motivated by the harsh words from her ex-boyfriend and encouragement from her sorority sisters, Elle begins to diligently study for the law school admissions exam (LSAT) and gains admission into her program. While a student, she worked hard to earn her spot on her professor's legal team and assists with a big case! As a graduate student, the material will be difficult and you will be challenged.  With perseverance and dedication you will overcome any obstacles placed in your path -- everything is possible with hard work!

Four— Meet people and make connections. 

Elle attempted to join a study group in the library, but was turned away and also felt as though she didn’t fit in with her cohort.  However, she made a great friend in her manicurist, her professors and she ended up being best friends with the person she resented the most! Throughout your time here in NYU, you will make the connections that will assist you along your journey.  The connections with your professors, classmates, local coffee shop owner and other people in and around the university will be valuable in their own way.  Be sure to connect where you feel welcomed and comfortable and gain something from every interaction.

Five— Stay true to who you are regardless of those around you. Be yourself and don't judge a book by its cover!

Elle Woods showed up to Harvard in this huge moving truck, wearing all pink!  She wore a turquoise velvet suit her first day of class, and even handed her professor her resume on scented pink paper.  This flashy, and genuine Elle Woods ended up being the commencement speaker at her graduation.  Now everyone will not wear all pink, or give scented documents, but it is important to be your genuine self.  You were selected to be a part of this graduate community due to your traits and expressed characteristics.  Stay true to yourself and embrace those around you and in your classes.  Everyone is unique, and brings a different and valuable perspective!

A picture of the character, Elle, standing in a court room around her peers.

Six— It’s okay to have a bad day, and to experience ups and downs.  

One of the most iconic scenes in the movie is when Elle teaches a friend how to get the attention of others:

"It's called the bend and snap, watch this!"

"I think I dropped something on the floor that I need to pick up.."

"So you bend, and SNAP!"

In the movie, bend and snap was comically used to gather the attention of another, however it can be translated into everyday life.  Even though things may get you down, and the times will come as a graduate student, its important to get the lesson from the bottom (picking up the item) and snap back stronger than ever! So, when you experience a low, just remember to "bend and SNAP!" and come back triumphant!

Seven— Success is tied to mental and physical health. 

During her argument of a case Elle exclaimed: "Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy!" Staying physically active will assist with lowering stress levels and staying healthy.  Graduate school can be stressful, and NYU understands that.  Utilize the resources here on campus, such as the wellness center and athletic facilities to maintain your health-- mentally and physically. A healthy mind and body is a critical component of your success!


A picture of the character, Elle, graduating.

Disclaimer: Legally Blonde (2001) is a movie from MGM Home Entertainment Distribution Co. We do not own the copyrights to the contents of this movie.