YMMV / Higher Learning

  • Anvilicious: During the "Take Back the Night" rally, a woman in the crowd holds a sign that reads "Rape is A Crime".
  • Cry for the Devil: "I wanted to build things! I wanted to be an engineer!"
  • The Danza: Swanson's real first name is, in fact, "Kristen."
  • Dawson Casting: Almost all of the actors were in their early to mid twenties playing college students. Michael Rapaport, Kristy Swanson, Ice Cube, Adam Goldberg, Regina King and Jennifer Connelly were all twenty-five and Tyra Banks and Omar Epps were both twenty-two.
    • It is explicitly stated that Fudge has been in school for six years, so Ice Cube isn't actually that far off.
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Dr. Phipps is treated this way in-story (when some of the students mock his accent).
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: When the going gets tough, what do you do? Run away and drop out of college like Malik does at the end of the film.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Remy's rampage can remind modern audiences of the Columbine shootings.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Laurence Fishburne's first line is "Welcome to the real world."
  • Misaimed Fandom: Some white viewers tentatively identify with Remy, arguing that his homicidal rampage in the climax was only an accounting for what had been done to him. They forget that 1) Fudge and his goons, for all their negative traits, are not bloodthirsty zealots; and 2) the two people actually shot to death by Remy are innocents who never tormented him and barely even knew him.
  • Narm
    • The montage alternating between Kristen and Remy decorating their dorm rooms (to two radically different styles of music) is slightly wacky.
    • That bizarre, pseudo-British accent the leader of the neo-Nazis uses.
    • Remy's Mental Breakdown and attempts to escape from the campus police.
    • The Higher Learning poem, delivered in full Beatnik fashion.
    "What is high? What is high-er? What is learn? What is learn-ing? What is higher learning?"
  • Nightmare Fuel: Deja is shot in the stomach by Remy and suffers an agonizing death, vomiting up blood.
  • Strawman Has a Point: John Singleton wants us to see Remy's behavior later on in the film as irrational and merely acting out. But when you take into consideration how Fudge's gang, including Malik, treat him, is there any wonder he went nuts?
    • It happens to Scott, Remy's nazi friend who urges him to stay in school. Scott does it for the wrong reasons (he thinks college learning for whites would help them go on as the master race), but still there's no denying the value of education.
  • Truffaut Was Right: It's obvious that Singleton wants us to see the Nazi characters as evil and cruel, even to the point of having ominous music play whenever they appear. But he did a little too good a job of demonization, making every skinhead character so stupid, delusional, cowardly, or pathetic that many viewers wound up sympathizing with them anyway. This reached Epic Fail dimensions when the actor who played Remy reported hearing black moviegoers saying they identified with his character!