College is a time to have fun and experiment with new things. It is often the first time that people have a significant amount of freedom in their lives and are able to explore a number of different activities. However, college also comes with a number of academic pressures. All the obligations of classes, papers, exams and everything else that goes along with earning your degree can get in the way of having fun.
Nevertheless, the most important aspect of the college experience is the social part. All the connections you make in college will likely enrich you for the rest of your life. Few people remember much of what they learn in the classroom years after they graduate from college, but people usually gain lifetime connections.
When I was at Brandeis, I was extremely focused on my studies. I thought that my grades would be the thing that helped me the most throughout my career. I stayed at Brandeis during all my vacations and spent much of my free time hitting the books and working on academic assignments.
I guess to some extent, my grades were important at the beginning of my career as an attorney. Grades might have helped me get accepted into a better law school, since they are important in the law school admissions process. In addition, my undergraduate grades might have had an impact on the first job that I was offered after graduating from law school, since law firms consider grades and the quality of the law school you attended when making hiring decisions.
However, now that I am the better part of a decade into my career, I realize that I should have socialized more and had more fun in college. I rarely apply any of the academic knowledge I learned in the classroom to any of the legal matters that I handle. However, I regularly leverage the social connections I made in college to help myself and my clients.
For instance, I recently connected with a potential client who attended college with me. I met her the first day of Brandeis orientation, and we ran with some of the same people in college. Now that I am a practicing attorney, and she is a business-owner with legal needs, that social connection has made the difference in receiving business for my firm.
In addition, I am here to tell you, as someone who graduated from Brandeis over 10 years ago, that no one remembers the time you spent studying or hitting the books. When people remember the time they spent in college, they are more likely to recall the time they spent staying up late and having fun. Trust me, you don’t want to look back on your college experience and think that you did not have enough fun, since this is pretty much the only time of your life that you can socialize and meet people from so many different backgrounds.
I think administrators should understand that college is supposed to be a fun time, and cut students some slack when students propose fun, but edgy events. When I was a student at Brandeis, there was a dance called “The Less You Wear, The Less You Pay” dance. Essentially, you paid four dollars to get into the dance if you were fully clothed, and you could go for free if you went pretty much naked or used ordinary items creatively as clothes. The campus administration put the kibosh on this dance pretty quick, but whenever alumni think fondly about Brandeis, they think of this and other wild events. As a result, the administration could probably boost alumni involvement and give students a socializing experience by being less strict when it comes to certain campus events.
All told, people sometimes call our school Brandeis Univer“study,” because everyone is so focused on their studies to the detriment of their social lives. I’m here to tell you that having fun and socializing with other people is perhaps the most important part of the college experience. If you are ever feeling tired, or are questioning whether you should stay out with friends, remember this article. You might actually be benefiting your future career by socializing with other people, and feel free to use this as an excuse to stay out later and socialize with friends.
Editor’s note: Jordan Rothman graduated from Brandeis in 2009, with a B.A. in History and Politics and an M.A. in American History. While at Brandeis, Rothman was an editor for The Brandeis Hoot.