19 Things We Thought Were, Like, So Deep When We Were In College

One of the best parts of the college experience is that you get to take your hobbies and interests really, really seriously. From your urban drum circle to art house movies to Zen Buddhism to heavy metal, college gives you the chance to dive into your passions without a hint of self-consciousness. In many cases, you also have a large group of friends who live 10 feet away and are willing to discuss the existential details of any topic til the early morning hours. This all adds up to thinking and saying, “Whoa, that’s deep” a lot. Looking back, some of the things we found super meaningful in our college days might be a bit cringeworthy now, but some of them still hold up, and either way, we’re grateful for the time we got to spend laying on the floor of our dorm rooms reciting Tool lyrics and thinking it was the most profound thing in the world. Here are some other books, movies, poetry, art, music, and scientific concepts we thought were mega deep in college…


My friends and I watched “Harold and Maude”  a lot. We would sit around and cry and talk about life after.

I carried around a copy of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind so I could learn to be “present.” I was an acting student.

“From the Choirgirl Hotel” by Tori Amos: The song “Pandora’s Aquarium” really hit me in a deep place at the time.

I had a friend who was studying quantum physics and we spent a lot of time talking about it.

Jungle Music and Ambient Noise: The bass beat is 45 rmp, same as your heart. Ambient noise — don’t know why I thought it was deep.

I still think Dorothy Parker is deep.

This slam poetry book was my bible.


When my freshman year roommate and I first met, we had a total “Stepbrothers” moment where we were like, “Do you like Tool?” “Yup!” “Did we just become best friends?” “YUP.” She turned out to be kind of a sociopath, but we still enjoyed many hours discussing the intensely deep, complex topics Maynard introduced us to in songs like “Hooker With A Penis.”

I read Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, like, 50 times and would nod my head along to Tyler Durden’s anti-consumerist monologues while wearing purple Uggs and $140 7 For All Mankind jeans, completely unaware of my hypocrisy. Still love the book, but I take it a little less seriously.

I could spend hours laying on the twin bed in my dorm and contemplating the existence of antiparticles, antimatter and black holes. I don’t have as much free time now to lounge and ponder, but I still think about that stuff approximately 10 times a day.

My friend Tracy and I used to walk down the middle of the rural roads around my house at like 2 a.m. during weekends home from college singing “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve at the top of our lungs, and then we’d look at each other all serious and be like, “Dude, life really IS a bittersweet symphony.”


I used to listen to jazz fusion on iTunes and put it on that “visualizer” setting where funky artwork comes onscreen. I’d stare at the trippy visuals and listen to the music. I thought that was hella deep.

Beat poetry (which I still think is deep).


Any and all jazz.



I got really into semiotics when I was a senior, for some reason, and I spent a lot of time buying and reading Barthes, much to the amusement of my father, who consistently told me that shit was over my head. I insisted I understood it, and insisted that it was important and very deep, and while I still think it is deep, it was an extremely pretentious undertaking for a 20-year-old.


I like to think I wasn’t particularly pretentious in college, but freshman year, I saw “Good Will Hunting,” and oh my god, did it speak to me. Actually, it spoke to the fact that I was totally in love with a 25-year-old fifth year senior who lived down the hall, who I was convinced was just deeply troubled like Matt Damon’s character and all he needed was a good woman (me and/or Minnie Driver) to see his potential. Did I mention he carried a bottle of vodka in his raver pants at all times? I still like “Good Will Hunting,” but it’s hardly the deepest movie ever to me anymore.

As you know, I went to a hippie school right by the beach, so at some point I got really into getting stoned and watching surf videos, often soundtracked by Jack Johnson before he was famous. Barrel waves and “Bubble Toes,” yeah man. 

For a couple years there, I had a John Coltrane poster on my wall, likely because I wanted to catch jazz musician tail. Does that make me deep or clever? These days, I prefer Alice Coltrane.

[Photo of young woman reading via Shutterstock]