Magic and Majors: How Going to College is Like Going to Hogwarts

An entire generation of kids were entranced by the magical world created in J.K. Rowling’s series of Harry Potter books. And now many of them, after accepting (or refusing to accept) that their Hogwarts letter wasn’t coming, are either in college, or getting ready to go.

But here’s the thing: college is a lot like Hogwarts. It might sound crazy, but there are a lot of similarities.

Getting Your Acceptance Letter

At a certain age, young witches and wizards can expect to see a parchment envelope addressed to them from Hogwarts. And while your college acceptance letter may not be delivered by a spotted owl, it’s still kind of the same thing, right? It tells you that you’ve been accepted to a school, and tells you what to do next. Sure, maybe Hogwarts students don’t need to worry about student loans, or have to wait through that agonizing time after you’ve applied to a school but before you’ve heard back. But still, acceptance letters are magical too.


While there’s no magical Sorting Hat to tell you where you belong the most, the residence hall in which you live often becomes like your Hogwarts house. You bond with the other people who live there, you do group activities with them, often you eat in the cafeterias with the people from your dorm. There are usually common rooms in dorms where the residents can hang out, study, watch television, and interact with each other as well.

And at many colleges, there are often competitions between residence halls. For instance, at Central Michigan University, residence halls compete with each other during Homecoming in various activities and categories for bragging rights and trophies. Sound familiar? At Hogwarts, students compete against each other by earning points for their houses. If they do good things, points get added, but if they cause trouble, points can be taken away. At the end of the year, the house with the most points gets a feast in their honor, and wins the House Cup Championship.


Sure, everyone knows about the wizarding world’s most popular sport, played on broomsticks high above the ground. It’s all the rage at Hogwarts, and each house has their own team. But did you know that many colleges throughout the nation and even internationally have Quidditch teams as well?

No, the brooms can’t really fly, and neither can the equipment, but it’s still a lot of fun, and taken very seriously. Many universities compete against each other during the year, and there is even a World Cup held annually. For a full list of universities who boast their own Quidditch team, or to learn more about the rules or championships, visit the International Quidditch Association’s website (yes, there is such a thing).

The Library

If you’re like Hermione Granger, you find yourself running to the library at a moment’s notice. Of course, the Hogwarts library is an understandably magical place full of books about charms, spells, and the care and keeping of magical creatures. While your school’s library may not have books quite like that, it is still an invaluable resource for you (and no, it’s not just a quiet place to sleep during class). University libraries are full to the brim with books that can help you with anything you might be working on. It’s never a bad idea to acquaint yourself with it, because you never know when you might need to use it. On top of that, many school libraries have quiet places to study or take a break from the chaos of your dorm room.

And a new trend in college libraries is making them all the more magical. Many have implemented mechanized shelves that move back and forth at the push of a button, allowing the library to cram even more books into one space. But don’t worry, you won’t be crushed between the ten foot shelves if someone decides to try to move it while you’re between them. The shelves have sensors all along them, so if anyone is between the stacks, the shelf will refuse to budge. If that doesn’t sound like Hogwarts, then what does?


In college, we have midterms and end of term exams, but otherwise, we just write a lot of papers and practice things in labs. Hogwarts is similar in the fact that they have exams at the end of each term, and they also have O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s (Ordinary Wizarding Levels and Nastily Exhausting Wizard Tests, respectively) which are kind of like the ACT, SAT, GRE, or any other standardized test characterized by a long acronym.

Career Counseling

In their fifth year, Hogwarts students must meet with their head of house to discuss their career options and what classes they may need to take to accomplish them. In college, we have many different counselors and advisers that are there to do the exact same thing: discuss career options and tell us what classes to take. Advisers are another great resource that needs to be taken advantage of. You’d be surprised at the miracles these people can work on your schedule and your life plan. They are there to help you, not to squeeze more money out of you, or anything such as that. Make sure you visit them early and often!

Graduate School

For some occupations, in both the wizarding and real worlds, more education or training is required after your graduation date. Here, we call that grad school. Select fields (such as aurors or doctors) need more specialized schooling before you can be certified to perform the tasks in a professional setting. Study hard, so you can become certified to fight dark wizards (or, you know, work in a hospital).

In Conclusion…

College and Hogwarts are basically the same thing, right? Okay, you can’t have owls at college, but it’s a boarding school! And yeah, maybe Hogwarts students have more interesting classes, but you can always pretend Chemistry 101 is Potions, and Botany 320 is Herbology, right? So, if you’re one of the many people that are upset about their lack of a Hogwarts education, don’t fret – college is extremely similar, and I think Professor Dumbledore would approve!

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Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson is a freshman at Central Michigan University, currently pursuing a degree in Journalism. Elizabeth is a member of the CMU Honors Program, and is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life, the student run campus newspaper. When she’s not in school, she can usually be found reading, writing, or watching movies, and enjoys traveling and performing in plays.
Elizabeth Benson

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