Finding Balance in a Town that Doesn’t Sleep

My name is John Temming and I am a 21-year old senior at Ohio University. Here at OU I study Audio Production at the Scripps School of Media Arts and Studies, which—while being quite a mouthful to say—is one of the more prestigious communications colleges in the Midwest. Unfortunately the less-than-sterling “party school” reputation OU has earned itself over several decades of steadily escalating couch-burning incidents has rendered my diploma laughable to many employers. Luckily my resume, which I’ve been busy stacking with extra-curricular activities since the dawn of this sorry realization, is impressive (or at least appears impressive) enough to make me attractive to employers—even though the diploma I’ve been striving toward over the last 4 years is not only as useless as a blind heart surgeon, it will actually serve as a regular “certificate of alcoholism” to many of my prospective employers. That is, at least until Ohio University has more to boast about as an institution than its outstanding marching band—which continues to outshine the football team on a weekly basis.
But that is neither here nor there. What I’ve chosen to discuss today is finding balance in a very sociable, or—ahem—“party,” environment. During the first year of school here in Athens, Ohio I struggled with an overall inability to go out and be social while still maintaining a respectable GPA and preserving my standing as a “good” student. Not only are college students exposed to far more distractions than high school, they have infinitely more freedom to explore those distractions. One of the opportunities that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon during my junior year was becoming a booking agent for local artists and working as an A&R rep with a local record label. These extra-curricular activities, while giving me plenty of music business experience on one hand, introduced me into a whole new “party” scene…probably the party scene people picture as typical “night out on the town” in Athens, Ohio. So, I quickly became absorbed into a world that was benefitting my career (going to shows, booking artists, finding new talent) while providing me a powerful outlet for my interpersonal skills…but it was becoming a growing burden on my school-work.
Some people, when faced with such a conundrum, decide to direct all their focus to only one of their options. Instead, I have learned to manage my time carefully with a strict “work hard, play hard” attitude. This doesn’t only apply to Audio Production majors who can make a career out of organizing, booking, promoting, (and subsequently partying at) concerts. This information applies to every college student that enjoys socializing and believes that their social life has, or may begin to, interfere with their academic responsibilities.
My advice would be: make academics priority number one. If you are paying for college, you should make it worth your time and money and attend classes; absorb information. That’s not to say you shouldn’t go out and socialize. College is a superb time in any student’s life to explore their interests—new and old—and make plenty of new friends. But don’t let this distract you from your primary mission: getting educated. It’s much more enjoyable to explore outside interests or simply relax if your academic priorities aren’t hanging over your head. However, what I’ve discovered after 4 years of schooling here is that information is temporary, especially in the media industries. We will have to re-learn how we do everything. Music will be being produced very differently in 20 years than it is today, which will render a great deal of the information I’ve spent hundreds of hours studying, memorizing, and by any other means ceaselessly driving into my hippocampus, completely obsolete. What will not be obsolete, however, are the networks I’ve built with many of my colleagues here at Ohio University. The people that I’ve met and the connections that I have facilitated have helped me more thus far in the professional world than any amount of classroom direction or book-learning possibly could.
What I’m trying to convey, albeit disjointedly, is that balance is the key. Those who party without discretion will undoubtedly fail academically, while those that spend their college careers as silent dormroom-bound hermits spending every waking minute buried in textbooks will fall fundamentally short in the realm of sociability—an unavoidable aspect of every career path that can make (or break) a successful individual. So don’t be afraid to go out and enjoy yourself. Meet people. It’s important. But don’t forget that you’re here to learn both socially and academically, and the two “go hand-in-hand” to create success. This is how I’ve been able to further my career and my social life without hindering my academic accomplishments. Balance. It’s the best-kept business secret of all time.

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