Pencils down: This won't be on the exam. Set in the world of Ivy League academia, Admission stars Tina Fey as Portia Nathan, a driven Princeton University admissions officer with hopes of replacing the outgoing dean. Her life is upended, professionally and personally, during her recruiting visit to an alternative high school run by fellow Dartmouth grad John Pressman (Paul Rudd). There, Portia meets a gifted but unconventional student who might be her biological son. Is she really the Baby Mama? Can John score a Date Night with Miss Bossypants? Will Portia beat out the Mean Girls to nab the deanship? Study our spoiler-free fun facts to go to the head of the class:
1. Upper Academia Angst: If you're a college hopeful, watching this Paul Weitz-directed dramedy might be as stressful as taking the SAT, since Admission reveals the politicking behind the selection process and shows rejected applicants being literally dumped! The film is based on the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz, who's married to a Princeton professor and worked as a reader for the school's Office of Admissions. Screenwriter Karen Croner did her own research, interviewing admissions officers at top universities. As a result, Admission gets high marks for authenticity and anxiety.
2. When Life Hands You Liz Lemon: Admission marks the first major pairing of Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, though they previously performed sketch comedy together on Saturday Night Live. Fey, who once applied to Princeton but didn't get in, plays a variation of her 30 Rock persona: overworked, under-sexed Liz Lemon. For her Portia character, sex is underwhelming because of her tweedy twit of a lover, played by Michael Sheen (who also appeared as Liz Lemon's boyfriend on 30 Rock). Fortunately, Portia soon gets her world—and bed—rocked by do-gooder cutie John.
3. Extra Credit for an Excellent Cast: Awesome Lily Tomlin earns top honors in the laughs (and sniffles) department. She steals every scene as Portia's quirky feminist-author mom, whose high expectations for her daughter put a huge strain on their relationship. Gloria Reuben (ER) ratchets up the workplace drama as Corinne, Portia's frenemy and main competitor for the Dean of Admissions position. Speaking of, the incomparable ("Inconceivable!") Wallace Shawn brings his trademark lisp and bemused expressions to the role of Clarence, the retiring Dean.
4. Teachers, Leave Them Kids Alone! The script frequently tosses around the word "autodidact." In case your Webster's isn't nearby, "autodidact" refers to someone who has learned a subject without the help of a teacher or formal education. See also: self-taught. As Admission points out, Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo da Vinci were autodidacts—and so is Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), a teenaged prodigy who may or may not be the child Portia gave up for adoption. If you've just learned something new, you can consider yourself an autodidact as well. You're welcome.
5. A Beautiful Campus for Beautiful Minds: Although Admission takes potshots at Princeton's slipping rating and myopic applications-review process, the prestigious university allowed the production to do location filming on campus. For several days during the less-busy summer season, filmmakers shot scenes at the university's iconic ivy-covered buildings. A special visitor stopped by during filming but remained off-camera—Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., whose history with Princeton was portrayed in the acclaimed biopic A Beautiful Mind.
(E! and Focus Features are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)