“What is a day at college like?” In my college search process, this was the question that was constantly on my mind. I could read about colleges as much as I wanted, and learn about offered majors and minors and extracurriculars and so on, but I just couldn’t figure out what it would really feel like to be at college.
So in this blog article, I want to try to answer that question for people who might be in the same position that I was. I’ll do this by answering my original question: “what is a day at college like?” Frustratingly, it’s hard to give a simple answer to that question, because it truly does vary so much. In high school, you spend seven (more or less) hours in school every day. But in college, you’ll spend maybe (at most) three hours in class per day, and you and all your friends live in the same place. Depending on the number of extracurriculars you’re in and what days they meet, what or how much you do on a given day can vary both week to week and day to day.
So this blog post will have three parts: a description of a busy day for me (last Monday, specifically), a description of a relatively quiet day for me (last Tuesday), and an analysis of both.
What I Did Last Monday
Most weeks, Monday is my busy day. This Monday was no exception.
As soon as I woke up (at 9:15 AM), I did some quick review for a quiz I had in my morning Japanese class. Having taken my time waking up, I walked to said Japanese class – I’m happy to report that the quiz went well. I then went to the widely acclaimed Stevenson Dining Hall for some early lunch, after which I checked my schedule for later in the week and realized that I had two different pieces of music due in about two weeks: one was a piece I’ve been writing for a student-directed choir that I’m in, and one was a theme and variations for horn and piano assigned for my music composition class. In order to work on my music, I headed to a practice room down on the south end of campus, in the Conservatory.
I worked on my piece for horn and piano for a little while. I also practiced some of my music for the a cappella group I’m in, the Obertones. Then, at about 2:30 in the afternoon, I went to my creative writing class, where we’re studying speculative fiction featuring Black protagonists. We had a workshop where we talked about a student’s piece, and the workshop finished early, so I headed across the central quad of the campus to get a quick snack at DeCafé, which is essentially a convenience store where you can buy snacks with meal swipes. I then went to my computer systems programming class, and then a tutoring session for my Japanese class. Then I finally had a break!
I went back to my dorm, then decided to go for a quick run. I ran about three miles out to the west of campus – the town of Oberlin is beautiful in the evening – and, once I came back, I ended up working out at the gym as well. Later, I met up with a friend for dinner at the eternally excellent Stevenson Dining Hall. We talked for about forty-five minutes before I finally had to go to rehearsal for the community choir I’m in.
Rehearsal took place in Finney Chapel, which is one of the largest single buildings on campus, and which contains a truly massive pipe organ. For our upcoming concert, we’re singing Handel’s Messiah, and today was the first rehearsal we singers did together with the orchestra. Though no one played the massive organ, finally hearing how the entire piece is supposed to sound made my day. Then I went back to the Conservatory for some late night saxophone practice (I’m trying to learn how to play the saxophone), and to work on getting an information sheet together for a concert I’m trying to organize. Finally, I sat down to write this journal entry.
As I said, Monday is my busy day, and I’m a busy guy. Luckily, the next day would be more relaxing.
What I Did Last Tuesday
I woke up and headed to my Japanese class (which I have at 10 AM every weekday). Then, I went to the Rathskeller for some lunch, where I ran into a friend. We had a nice long lunch together, and then I went to an event at the library held for sophomores by the Center for Student Success, a department of the college which offers coaching in areas of student life. After that, I met up with some friends who were also in the library at the same time. I sat down, did some work, but ultimately found myself participating in an hour-long conversation about artificial intelligence.
I regretfully left my friends in the middle of the conversation to go to my composition professor’s office hours, but I made a mistake -- their office hours were scheduled for Thursday, not Tuesday, so I finally did some homework. Then I went to a lab session for my computer science class. For our final project for the class, we’re working on making a weather station with a Raspberry Pi, programmed in Rust. After several hours of trying to make a website to display the weather station’s data, I packed up and headed to my a cappella group’s rehearsal.
I wanted to spend some time composing, so I went to a practice room and emerged an hour later with a piano accompaniment written for one of the variations of my piece for horn and piano. Then I finally went to go get dinner, where I saw several of my friends from the aforementioned conversation about artificial intelligence. After dinner, we found our way back to the library, and I spent the next few hours trying to fine-tune a text generation model to imitate one of my friends’ texting style. The library closed at midnight, so I said goodbye to my friends then, and left to write this journal entry.
I have a tendency (which I’m sure you’ve noticed!) to get involved in all sorts of different things, and that can be both a blessing and a curse. Regardless, I think the two examples above showcase the broad range of things that someone at college can spend their time doing, including classes and class work, as well as participating in extracurricular activities, hanging out with friends, and pursuing interests of one’s own.
I’ve spent my time at Oberlin constantly on the lookout for things to get involved in, and I think that has been helpful for me, in order to learn more about what I’m genuinely interested in. At college, you can mostly spend your time doing what you like, so if you feel like you’re too busy, you can always cut back on what you’re involved in doing. And if you feel like you want to get out of the dorm more often, there are ways to do that.
So what is a day at college like? Ultimately, it’s what you make of it.
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