When final exams and papers clutter your calendar, it’s easy to ignore the fliers for end-of-semester concerts, plays and lectures on campus. But should you? Here are five reasons why this might just be the best time to attend cultural events at your school.
1. Improve your time-management skills.
It can be tough to sacrifice three good library hours to attend a performance of Macbeth, especially when your English professor won’t know the difference.
But, having less time to work means you need to work more efficiently in the time that you do have. Taking time to enrich your musical knowledge or understanding of Middle Eastern politics can be motivation to focus well during the time you spend on your problem set.
“You can take an hour of your week,” said professor Carol Dougherty, the director of the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College and faculty member in the classical studies department. “It’s the stuff that keeps you happy, as well as what makes you a more engaged person.”
2. Become inspired.
Having a hard time coming up with a final paper topic? Find out about events connected to your class and go to them, even if your professor doesn’t give you extra credit. Exposing yourself to this kind of outside-the-box thinking can inspire you as you work on your final projects. See if you can connect the topic to your final paper.
It’s not just the topics that are inspiring, though. These kinds of events, according to Dougherty, are “an opportunity to be around people who are at the top of their game.” Make good on the chance to shake hands with an up-and-coming novelist or award-winning scientist and ask for their advice and definitely a picture.
3. Support your community.
Performance groups spend hours every week to prepare for their shows, which are designed to benefit the entire college. Yet many groups can struggle to attract an audience, especially when there is so much going on. Attending your friends’ events is a meaningful way to show them that you care, even during the stress of finals.
And when you join the audience, you might be surprised at how you, too, feel more connected to the community around you.
Allison Walker-Elders is a senior neuroscience major at Wellesley College and president of the college’s Shakespeare Society.
“One of the most important aspects of experiencing cultural events is the feeling of connection,” Walker-Elders said. “It’s so hard to communicate with other people — there really isn’t a foolproof method. Theater is a way to reach out to an audience through the creation and presentation of a story.”
4. Expose yourself to the outside world.
The collegiate “bubble” does exist. It’s easy to think that the whole world is full of 20-year-olds cramming for biology exams.
Don’t know much about the current state of Russian politics? Attend that lecture sponsored by the political science department. Never tried Korean barbecue? Join your college’s Korean Student Association in a cultural learning event. Never heard Hungarian folksong? Walk over to the choir concert and listen to some incredible music for a few hours.
Your college is a passport to the globe. Take advantage of it.
5. Create habits for a lifetime.
College is a fast and furious four years that are designed to train you for the life ahead. Improving your writing skills or your ability to analyze graphs will make a difference in your future career. In the same way, getting into the habit of supporting the arts and improving your intellectual life (even when it’s not required) is one special perk to pick up along with your diploma.
It might sound old-fashioned, but the habits that you start now matter. And the rewards of those habits can pay off for the rest of your adult life.
So the next time your roommate invites you to her modern-dance performance, think about what you can gain from attending. Skip the library. Go to the show.
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