Is this Neverland? How Peter Pan and College Oddly Compare

Now, I know what you’re thinking, this definitely is not your everyday college article.  I mean, why in the world would I be comparing college life with a children’s story? Peter Pan, written by the well-regarded playwright and author Sir J.M. Barrie, is completely packed with symbolism and archetypal characters.

It was only after some careful consideration and thought did I realize so many of the characters in this colorful novel, oddly enough, have a lot of similarities to the general kinds of people any student may come across and possibly meet throughout their time at university.

Call college your own Neverland; a place of opportunity, adventures, fun and all kinds of challenges. Like, Neverland, college is full of different characters and kinds of people.

Here is a list of the characters from the book and descriptions to go with them. Each describes kinds of people that are often met at college:

  • Peter Pan – You’ll find that there are “Peter Pans'” abound in college! This character would definitely represent all those immature guys or even girls who don’t want to grow up and don’t seem to have any intention to. They are not very responsible and probably pretty have bad time management. All they want to do is be young and have fun. College represents the best days of their lives and they never want it to end. However, they would never let go of their grades and work completely. They can work hard. They are brave and will still fight to get good grades. It just may always be a struggle for them.
  • Wendy – This kind of person is the one who is pretty much the complete opposite. Although they like to play games and have fun , their main priority is work and responsibility. School and work always come before socializing and any other kinds of fun. They like college but mostly look forward to growing up, doing their best in school and becoming a real adult with the career of their dreams.
  • John – Know anyone who seems to do no wrong, always gets straight A’s, gets involved with tons of extracurriculars and always seems to have multiple internships and scholarships on the side? Yeah, that’s “John.” He’s the know-it-all, brainy, and probably pompous type.
  • Michael – This character represents the kind of people you may meet who always needs a leader to follow and acts a little naive about everything.  The classmates that always ask you what the homework assignment was because they forgot to write it down, the classmates that can’t remember times of meetings with teachers, the ones who are a bit of a push-over when it comes to friends. These kinds of people may not necessarily always be holding a teddy bear literally, but they do figuratively.
  • Captain James Hook – The scary professor, the one who you can never seem to please no matter how hard you work. The professor that’s always against you; he always gives the class unnecessarily difficult assignments that only increase your already high stress levels. But like “Captain Hook”, this professor is probably just scared of the ticking clock; he’s always in a foul mood because he knows he’s getting older while all his students are still young.
  • Smee – “Smee” portrays the good friend, the nice guy or a sweet person you always see and probably have classes with. But, as friendly and smiley they are, they’re not really the kind of person that stands out to you. They’re a bit of a wallflower and kind of blend in with the crowd. It’s someone that, realistically, you know you won’t keep in touch with after college graduation.
  • The Lost Boys – Similar to “Peter Pan”, these are the boys that also never want to grow up but to an extreme extent. They are the students who skip class all the time, never do work, never get sleep and are loud, obnoxious and irresponsible. They don’t seem to care about any kind of future in college at all. They’re the classmates that let their grades slip too much and have no idea what they want to do or maybe even major in. “The Lost Boys” are those who take advantage of the freedom that they have at school, lose sight of their futures and seem to always be “lost”.
  • Nana – Yeah, I know this is a surprising character to mention. “Nana” is a dog, that much is true. She is also a caring nanny to the Darling children. She demonstrates the friendly advisor and or motherly/fatherly-figure friend who is always looking out for you and your well-being.
  • The Mermaids – These characters represent the sororities. In the book, the mermaids attack Wendy because she is not one of them and is outside of their group. Sororities are part of the greek system who find fellow female students to join their exclusive groups and houses. Some find them to be beautiful and magical; to be accepted in their sorority would be a dream. To others, they may be seen as the mean girls who only accept certain kinds of people to be their friend, sister and fellow “mermaid”.
  • The Indians – Your group of friends. They’re super fun and exciting and perhaps even a bit mischievous. They like to play games, but when it comes to responsibility and work, they take it all very seriously! Being the great friends that they are though, they will stick up for any member of their tribe!
  • The Pirates – The fraternities.  They are also exclusive but are much more willing to socialize with students outside of the greek system. However, to get into them, a guy would have to accept the rules of the ship, or house rather. Just like pirates conquering the seas, fraternities have extreme pride for their house! However, like every crew member, each member has their own job or responsibility to uphold until they become upper class-men.
  • Tinker Bell – The overly jealous girlfriend of your best guy friends or other classmates you may meet who aren’t very friendly, talk about you behind your back and always speak in a spiteful and sarcastic manner.
  • Tiger Lily – That frustrating classmate that always seems to be your biggest competition with everything whether it be a crush, your friends or even grades and teachers.
  • Mr. Darling – The parent, Dean or professor who is too strict and especially hard on you.
  • Mrs. Darling – The parent, Dean or professor who always gives you a break and very understanding of you.

As you can see these fairytale characters are easily comparable to all the different people and characters in your own life during your college career. Now, I’m definitely not saying that people can only be one of these characters and not like another. You’ll meet so many people who are mixes of a bunch of these characters.

This list is a way for you to perhaps mentally prepare yourself for the kinds of people you’ll meet and maybe will help you decide the  kind of character or mix of characters you want to be. I hope you choose wisely.

P.S. I do suggest to all of you to actually read Peter Pan by Sir J.M. Barrie because it really is a wonderful book that I promise will brighten up any dreary day at school!

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Nina Reichenberg, a junior at Syracuse University spent her first two years in the Communications Design Program but is now currently working towards a degree in Computer Art & Animation. Whilst at school, Nina spends most of her time animating, watching films, and working as a design intern at SYR Outside of SU, she enjoys traveling, singing, dancing, spending time outside and collecting thimbles.

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