Toeing the line between Oscar Wilde and getting wild

by Carly Loman / Beacon Staff • December 8, 2011

Emerson is what you make it.

For many, it’s a blur of T-rides to crowded, sweaty parties where drinks are served in trashcans. Their Emerson memories consist of hazy visits to the Common followed by slices, and slices, and slices of New York Pizza. 

Others go in the opposite direction, choosing to walk down Boylston Street to the library instead of down Tremont Street to Maria’s Tacqueria. They fill their college years by going to those talks you see fliers for, taking those classes you were a little intimidated by, and applying to extracurricular activities you weren’t sure you’d get into.

 Many of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle of the spectrum — between the ten dollar bottles of poison and the late-night study lattes. But it becomes clear during finals week where allegiance truly lies. 

Suddenly those people you see with closed eyes and red cups on your newsfeed are quite decidedly open-eyed; their heads in books rather than between the walls of a porcelain throne. Finals week is a wake up call (because we all sometimes forget) that we didn’t just land in the middle of Boston surrounded by friends, a dorm overlooking the park, and free buffet-style food available at our discretion. We’re in college. And for as much as college is about fun, it’s also about, well — school. 

College is about moderation; for as many once-in-a-lifetime memories can be made within grungy music venues and apartments at the farthest reaches of the Green Line as within the Walker and Ansin buildings. 

Some people are naturally inclined to favor one over the other. Friends, parents, and individual predisposition can push people in either direction. But dedicating four years to one usually means sacrificing the opportunities available in the other — and that’s unfortunate.

At Emerson especially, college-related activities often concern our passions — and should be of interest to its student body. After all, we didn’t come to Emerson to toil away for a traditional degree guaranteed to make us money upon graduation. We’re actors, writers, filmmakers — we came here because we love what we do.

And yet, that ambition can be easily lost once one realizes that college offers a wealth of social opportunities. All those things that originally drove you to Emerson start seeming less and less important. You would rather look through your Facebook events for parties than for auditions, speakers, and extracurriculars. 

The key is to discover how to reply “attending” to both types of events. 

The “how” depends on the individual. 

For some it may be as easy as buying a planner and pulling an all-nighter or two to make up for days lost to slept-through alarms after nights spent in speeding cabs. But it’s admittedly not always that easy. Some have to sacrifice — and that applies to people on both sides of the academic-social spectrum. 

Those obsessed with grades and extracurriculars need to learn to chill; to waste time, and enjoy time. There aren’t many periods in life during which three-day weekends are the norm. The importance of enjoying social life cannot be diminished. In 10 years you’ll be much more likely to remember that Saturday night than the grade you received on the paper you stayed in to finish. 

But, that said, if that grade was really bad the consequences are real. Yes it’s true that “‘C’s’ get degrees,” but the value of a college degree is depreciating. Quantifiable skills are becoming more important than a signed diploma. Now more than ever it’s true that sometimes that night in is worth it. 

There’s no clear-cut answer for how to balance your undergraduate time between work and play. Use your judgment to ensure your college experience gives you the best of both.