Snowboarding & College
30 Jul, 2008
Seven years ago, I chose the option of completing a college degree before becoming a snowboard bum. It’s a route that many of us snowboarders have to decide and luckily some of the best colleges can be located near the mountains giving you a better chance of finishing your education while riding. It was tough at the time seeing friends live the snowboard bum life that I wanted to do…but I had to get this done.
I was lucky to make it into college…I was denied by colleges and accepted into middle of nowhere colleges. Finally after hard work, I got into a college in a good location that gave me my start, a year later I transferred to community college to get my associates degree which lead me to transferring into the 4 year college to finish my junior and senior years. College came easier to me than high school where tests determine your skills…college is based on writing. I found out early on that if you write what you are interested in…it doesn’t feel like homework.
Sociology is the study of human societies and I made it through college by writing about snowboarding. If the assignment was a field research study on two groups of people, I wrote about hitchhiking in snowboard communities vs. cities/suburbs. To discuss social norms and rules, I wrote about lift lines and park rules on the mountain. And finally when it came time to write about how we present ourselves and how people view us, I wrote about how I present myself as a snowboarder by how I dress (to show that i’m not a snowbunny or beginner), how my actions (ridiculing the boys if they are slow) and how I see myself (who I associate with and ride with).
I decided to live in the mountains and commute to school, commuting 2 hours from Stevens Pass to campus twice a week for classes from 8am to 8pm…giving me ample time to ride the other 5 days a week and I continued to teach snowboarding during the winter full time. 4 years later, still riding in the winter and riding summers at Hood…I graduated from University of Washington with my BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (aka English and Sociology).
I graduated college and moved back into the mountains in a town where everyone has degrees and no one uses them…we’re on the mountain enjoying it while we can.
Each person has to find their own way, their own path to follow. Each person has choices and in the end…it’s not about whether you have a paper degree or not…it’s where you end up and how you got there. I graduated college by still riding, by writing about snowboarding and an opportunity to learn and grow.