On the street, at the bus stop, waiting for transportation is Tanya, a girl of 19 years, reading posters. Student of the last course Nikolai Kolesov, a young man of 24 years old, is persistently trying to meet her. Soon he explains that he promised to come to the wedding to a friend with a beautiful girl. Tanya is intrigued, but still refuses to make Kolya company.
In the hostel, meanwhile, there is preparation for a festive dinner, most of the guests are already at the table. Everyone is waiting for Kolya with his mysterious companion. The bride and groom are Vasya Bukin and Masha. Comsorg wants to make a speech, but the first word is intercepted by Vasya Borya’s friend, nicknamed Gomyr. He is very drunk and says rather unpleasant things. The assembled people suffer his replies from Vasya. Meanwhile, one of the guests – Grisha Frolov – announces that he has loved Masha for five years, but wishes her happiness with Vasya. Gomira makes even more terse remarks, so Masha begins to insist that he leave the celebration. Bukin resolutely intercedes for a friend, after which Masha announces the wedding failed and leaves the company. Bukin hurries after his girlfriend.
After some time, among the gathered there is the rector of the university – Vladimir Alekseevich Repnikov. From him, at first, they hide the rupture of the failed newlyweds, but the rector can guess everything. Unexpectedly, Kolesov appears. Not noticing the rector, he turns off the light and demands to remove the sound from the tape recorder, as the police are chasing him.
Finally, in the midst of the general turmoil, the Komsomol manages to turn on the light. The policeman notices Kolya in the window, who grabs the rector with fright and enters the hostel. The policeman explains to everyone that Kolesov broke into the actress’s room Goloshubova, begging her to go with him to the wedding. The actress was amused, and she, was, agreed, but Kolya quarreled with the artist Shafransky, who was struck. The militiaman leads Kolesov. At this time Bukin returns. An angry rector demands from him and all the other students to appear next morning to him. Tanya enters, who asks Kolesov. The rector recognizes her.
The next day, Kolesov in the company of a certain Zolotuev, a man of 58 years, sent to punishment for socially useful works: they are under the supervision of a policeman to disassemble the fence of the old cemetery. When the policeman leaves for cigarettes, Zolotuev confesses to Kolesov in the offense he committed. This elderly man, seemingly amusing, just dug an orchid on the lawn.
Nicholas is found at work by Masha and Tanya, whom the police told how to look for Kolesov. From Masha Kolesov learns about his expulsion from the university. Then it is found out that Tanya is the daughter of the rector. She quarreled with her father because of a strict decision that seems unfair to her. The girl is going to understand everything herself.
During dinner, in the Repnikovs’ apartment, there is a big quarrel between father and daughter. Glow of passions is aggravated by the visit of Kolesov, who, behaving very strange and habitually unrestrained, asks him to admit him to examinations. Repnikov expels the young man. In response to this, Tanya, having flared, leaves “to be aired”. Repnikov remains alone with his wife. She is unhappy with his behavior, but does not openly argue, but reproaches with hints, which the rector can not understand or do not want. Wife complains that her husband has become a typical administrator, although it requires others to consider him a scientist.
Kolesov works in the garden of Zolotuev, Tanya comes there. Kolya is ready to admit to the girl in love, but does not dare. Appeared Bukin and Frolov, who came to find out how things are with Kolesov. Parting Bukin with Masha reconciled rivals, but Vasya begins to guess about Grisha’s plans...
Kolesov returned to the garden, which was empty for a while. Soon there shows the owner – Zolotuev. In conversation with a student, a flower lover shows his true face. He turns out to be an out-and-out grumpy, an extremely greedy person. From his story about himself and a fictitious friend it can be understood that he spent 10 years in the camp on Indigirka for bribing the auditor with full confidence that he served an unfairly – little gave, just everything. Since Zolotueva pursues an obsession to meet that inspector and give him 20 thousand rubles to “whitewash” his name.
A shot is heard, and from the depths of the garden Frolov and Bukin are shown. Vasya just killed the magpie. Students are embarrassed for themselves, they are rushing to leave the garden. Instead, the rector Repnikov comes to the garden, which offers Kolya a deal. Kolesov should abandon Tanya, stop meeting her, push her away from him – and then he will be restored in high school, admitted to the exams. Kolya remains thoughtful.
In the evening, he seems to have made a decision. When Tanya reappears, Kolya drives her, claiming that their relationship is an easy flirtation and therefore will not lead to anything serious. Puzzled, the girl obediently leaves.
After passing the exam and getting a diploma, Kolesov, avoiding other students, notes the “joyful event” in the university cafeteria. Here he finds “uncle” Zolotuev, who shares his grief: the auditor did not take even 20 thousand. Along the way, the “uncle” asks how much the “nephew” paid for the exam, which receives an evasive answer “a lot”.
When Zolotuev disappears for a while, Masha and Frolov come up to Kolya. The girl tries to convince herself in the presence of Kolesov, that she is ready to fall in love with the “positive” Frolov. It’s boring to look at this game, and he goes to the happy geologists. Then Masha for the first time in five years finds the strength to firmly and unequivocally tell Grisha that they will not succeed. The young leave.
In the deserted dining room, the Repnikovs’ spouses appear. Repnikova starts a conversation about the fate of her daughter and about Tanya’s love for Kolya. It turns out that Repnikov prevents Kolesov from entering the postgraduate course, although all the teachers are for this. After a little dispute, the couple leaves.
The dining room is filled with young people – students-geologists and others. Here Bukin and Masha, they agree on a divorce. Then Masha, not without the help of Bori-Gomyr, makes peace with Vasya, asks to take her on an expedition. Appears Tanya, who wants to congratulate Kolesov before he leaves for the breeding station. Repnikov comes after the girl. He takes his daughter out and secretly offers Kolya a new deal: Tanya needs to be repelled more decisively – in exchange for this, she offers postgraduate study.
Kolesov does not stand it: he finds Tanya and tells her everything. The girl is struck by the betrayal of a loved one. Depressed by grief, she leaves. Suddenly Zolotuev again appears, who saw something and understood something. He calls Kolya to work at his dacha, promising that he will write to his “nephew” and the dacha and the car.
Kolya briefly gives thought to brilliant prospects: the wealth of Zolotuev, on the one hand, plus graduate school under the auspices of the rector himself, on the other. But the young man makes the final decision. It is in front of the rector and friends-students vomit unfairly obtained a diploma.
Kolya manages to catch Tanya at the same stop where they once met. He tries to engage with her in order to gain understanding. Tanya does not want to communicate with Kolesov. Moving away from him in three steps, the girl is waiting for the bus.