Everyone at college wants different things from the environment. There are large schools where you can slip into the back of the room during classes and small schools where you can talk to teachers one on one. There are big party communities and the excitement of nationally broadcast sports games, or low-key get-togethers in a quieter neighborhood.
For young students especially, there is often a pressure to live life to the absolute fullest during college. That means different things for different people but can often look like attending events and joining teams and going to parties. The pressure to “get out there” and have bonus experiences is a lot to manage on top of classes, work and existing social connections.
A smaller, quieter campus suits me so much better than a larger, louder one because there is an environment of focus without the stress of a massive social environment. As a commuter, I can also leave school at the end of the day without it becoming the entire backdrop of my life.
One of the practices I’ve been trying to learn is how to treat school like a job by creating some boundaries on my time and trying to get work done on campus without needing to bring it home with me. I’m not always successful but getting away from school at the end of the day means I have time to give my brain a break and focus on other things that I enjoy.
Overall, UCCS has had a calm atmosphere for me. The campus can be exciting around special events, but most of the time I feel like I can stay in my zone and finish what I need to without worrying about crowds or disturbances.
The social environment is also spread out enough that I can find a group I mesh with and spend time with individually rather than looking for a larger organization. I enjoy spending time with my friends in the theater department and my friends from the Scribe, and those connections are going to continue supporting me down the road without the need to find a larger on-campus group.
None of this is to say that getting involved on campus is a bad thing; Mountain Lion Connect has plenty to offer for students who want to make friends with more people who share their interests. As a busy person with a lot of classes and a lot of time spent working, I appreciate the low pressure to look for social groups when most of my energy needs to go toward my degree and my free time is an opportunity to rest.
On the other hand, one downside of a compartmentalized environment is that it can be difficult to drum up support for things like shows at the Ent Center that students create both for themselves to learn and for other students to enjoy. With as many classes as I have at the Ent Center, I find myself feeling like we have our own little bubble disconnected from the rest of campus.
As someone looking to make a career out of publicizing my work, we do need to work on advertising the work we do as students, especially when it’s for the benefit of other students.
While that is a weakness we work hard to combat, it’s still a relief to know that I’ll find my way to the places on campus where I need to be, and at the end of the day I can go home.
Ent Center for the Arts parking lot. Photo by Meghan Germain.