Is the Movie ‘Accepted’ Based on a True Story?

Accepted Movie Poster

Despite poor reviews by critics, Accepted turned out to be a fan-favorite comedy, with the creative plot working in Justin Long’s favor. The idea of a high school outcast who won’t get accepted into any college and creating his own college that accepts other outcasts is just a whole other level of creativity. Bartleby Gaines’s South Harmon Institute of Technology (SHIT) is famous in comedy circles, and many people wonder whether Accepted is based on a true story.

While the plot is interesting and sounds realistic, there is no confirmation from the creators that it was based on a real-life story. However, the storyline relates loosely to the beginning of the Free University in Germany. The University was started by a group of students and lecturers that disagreed with the politically influenced Humboldt University in Berlin in 1948.

Despite the story sounding similar to that of the Free University, the comedic aspect of Accepted makes it feel more fictional. The movie was still one of the best comedies in 2006, and being based on a real-life college makes it even more interesting. There is still more about the South Harmon Institute of Technology that most fans don’t know about, so let’s delve into it.

What is Accepted about?

Accepted movie cast 1

Accepted follows Bartleby Gaines, a high school senior who gets a string of rejections from all the seven colleges he applied to.

He is a popular outcast at his high school, known for making trouble, including making fake ids.

To avoid disappointing his parents with an eighth rejection letter, Bartleby created a fake college called the South Harmon Institute of Technology and sent himself an acceptance letter.

He joined up with his friends, who were also rejected by colleges and decided to make the college look real by creating a website.

He also rented and renovated a former psychiatric hospital, recruited a disgraced dean from the neighboring Harmon College, and got a real-looking college underway.

The fake college’s website soon attracted more applicants, which Bartleby and his friends accepted into the institute.


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But with no actual curriculum in place, Bartleby and his friends decided to let the students choose the courses they wanted to study and create their own curriculum.

The decision to make curriculum choices at the institute liberal leads to the formation of weird courses such as Psychokinesis, Wingmanning, The Art of Kissing, and many similarly strange programs.

Unlike its neighboring classy Harmon College, the college turns into a party zone, whose students see Bartleby’s SHIT students as jokers.

Bartleby is determined to make the college work and, with the help of his disgraced former dean, tries to get state accreditation for the institute.

However, the law soon catches up with Bartleby and his friends after the student body president exposes the fake college to the authorities, students, and their families.

However, his friends Sherman helps him apply for accreditation from the state of Ohio to allow students at the school to keep studying and keep Bartleby out of jail, which they succeed.

Does the South Harmon Institute of Technology exist?

South Harmon Institute of Technology 1

Despite being so popular among comedy movie fans, the South Harmon Institute of Technology does not exist.

The only real-life academic institution with a related name is the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies, a University of Central Missouri branch.

Therefore, despite Bartleby’s fake college receiving accreditation at the end of the movie, it doesn’t tell the story of a real-life college in Ohio or anywhere else in the world.


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The story of the Free University in Germany is the closest thing to the plot of the movie, although it doesn’t have a similarly comedic aspect.

The Free University was created by students and lecturers who didn’t agree with the politicization of the education system at Humboldt University in East Berlin.

They moved to the US-Controlled half of Berlin and started their own college with assistance from the US armed forces.

It is now one of the best universities in Germany, with a story that symbolizes the struggle for free will in the dark days that the people of East Germany faced in 1948.

Accepted, while it is a work of fiction, also symbolizes the struggle of a group of misfits for equal opportunity in the highly segregative US education system.

Where is Accepted streaming?

Accepted is available for streaming on HBO Max and can also be rented on Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and Amazon.

The movie, which was directed by Steve Pink, was collaboratively written by Bill Collage, Adam Cooper, and Mark Perez.

The movie stars Justin Long in the lead role of Bartleby Gaines, whose performance received lots of praise.

The rest of the cast includes Jonah Hill, who plays Bartleby’s friend Sherman, Lewis Black, who plays the dean Dr. Ben Lewis, and Blake Lively as Bartleby’s love interest Monica Mooreland.

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