College atmosphere provides refreshing academic focus lacking in high school

From Thursday night through the wee hours of Sunday morning, students primp and prepare to go out. They excitedly head to frat parties, Coconut Grove and popular clubbing spots in Miami.

But when Monday morning rolls around, students will reluctantly roll out of bed for their 8 a.m. lectures, and the distinction between those who love to party and those who don’t disappears. For a student who identifies more with the latter, that’s great news.

Step into any class and you will be hard pressed to pick out the “partiers” in the room, simply because, within the walls of the classroom, we are all the same. Whether you went out over the weekend or stayed in and vegged in front of your computer screen, we are all struggling to understand cell division or the complexities of Latin verbs.

This sense of unity is something that wasn’t seen in high school and may not even exist at other universities. In past school settings, you could tell exactly who went out and who stayed in. The more social students might detract from a calm, positive lecture period by reminiscing about the past weekend or planning for the next one, while others love to heckle the teacher and plead for easier homework.

The conspicuous activity of these classroom slackers could obviously have a negative impact on quieter students who are less likely to speak up for their right to learn and on teachers who can’t catch a break. But not here.

This much-welcomed change in atmosphere results from the weightiness of a university education. Ascending to the collegiate level means even professional partiers are more serious when it comes to class – and even more so when that class comes with a hefty price tag. When you pay so much to attend a school, you know that your classroom time is a privilege, not a requirement you were forced to endure.

For students new to the thriving college social scene, it takes but a few weeks to get it together and face the (sometimes unwelcome) truth: this is a place of learning. Like it or not, any unwillingness to separate your social side from your academic one will lead to subpar classroom performance – and whether it’s a watchful parent at home or your own sense of drive, you’ll be letting someone down in the process.

Maybe the pursuit of a good weekend out is what keeps college students so calm and focused during their time in the classroom, but fortunately, you will rarely have to choose one interest over the other completely. As Hurricanes always say, “Work hard, party hard,” no?

The increased seriousness of college doesn’t mean there is no fun being had outside of class. Try riding your dorm’s elevator on Friday night without running into at least a few friends headed out to their first (or second, or third) party of the night. Really, try it. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be in our rooms waiting for our laundry and watching “Modern Family.”

Grace Wehniainen is a freshman majoring in journalism.

Featured image courtesy Pixabay user Hermann

October 15, 2015


Grace Wehniainen

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