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).

me on the stage during graduation

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.

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

Related Posts


  1. Zboy
    July 30, 2008

    Very nice Shay.

    I know the feeling of missing the 4 feet of fresh because I have a test the next day.. lame!

    Who knows if I’ll ever use my degree but I guess it’s a good thing to have.

  2. Pink Monkey
    July 30, 2008

    that last paragraph is very well put…. bravo!

  3. Shayboarder
    July 30, 2008

    Thanks! I wrote up a lot more but didn’t want to bore people with my education experience, haha.

    I actually can’t remember missing a good powder day during college. Because I lived in the mountains and commuted to school…I was the girl who “if I showed up, then everyone else had to show up.” I made sure to talk to professors on the first day of class to let them know my commute and the dangers of the highway I lived on. If it was a powder day and the highway was bad, I would email the assignment into my professors and never have an issue with it. I did have some scary drives though, icy roads in the northwest are no joke.

    I’ve found that my degree isn’t necessary to my job, but because of the skills I learned writing and discussing in class…that has been more beneficial in communicating with people, writing advice on the web and maybe eventually the degree might be good to have.

  4. Marc
    July 30, 2008

    The ideal would be to work something out that would allow you to take classes during the summer semester and be off during the winter semester (Jan-May). I suppose that could work if you go to school south of the equator. In any case, Great article Shay!

  5. Jay
    July 31, 2008

    UW? What a shitty school. Hell, they even let me in. FAIL.

  6. Huckleberry Hart
    August 08, 2008

    Well done Shay. Keep on keepin’. As to the UW: it is a horrible place. Trying to get out of there ASAP