The Mountain Times

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College ski break: the art of balancing work and play
Collegient weeks at Killington, Jan. 6-18

"I didn't select Dartmouth College solely because it's so near great skiing but the skiing helped clinch the deal!" comments one college student. "I ski almost every Tuesday and Thursday and most weekends!"

Sit in any of the base lodges at Killington after New Year's and it's almost impossible not to see a large array of college students. Some attend nearby schools. Many don't. Some to ski hard. Many don't. Some to train for upcoming races. Many don't. Some come to simply enjoy an escape before classes resume. They ski. They play. They party.

Listen to the conversations and it's surprising to hear the large differences among the students. Invariably, though, by the end of the week more then a few will idly speculate on what it would be like to attend school near the mountains. Some dream of skiing almost daily.

Who or whom dares to live that dream?

In point of fact, college students typically choose colleges based on an array of variables. Academics are certainly important. But it's also true that students consider colleges because of sports programs, proximity to desirable cities, supportive areas of interest such as fine arts, as well as geography. Face facts! Some students also attend colleges in Florida or California, for instance, because of the proximity to surfing. And skiers sometimes consider schools based on their proximity to the slopes.

There! It's in print. Ski schools can include college.

Teasing aside, many skiers travel to Vermont shortly after New Year's in order to order to enjoy a college ski break before classes resume. The skiing can be great. And the break from academics, with healthy outdoor activity, can often help recharge one's energy.

"This is a great week," noted one student, last January, who drove with her friend from North Carolina. "It was a long drive but we'd never skied Killington before… It's massive! We might do this again before we graduate. It's just a great break before we get back into our classes."

Skiing can offer a great escape, and experts agree.

"Skiing and sports can offer a nice balance to academics," suggests Professor Robert Leve, Ph.D., A.B.P.P., a Clinical Psychologist and Sport Psychologist in Avon, Connecticut. The Director of the M.A. Program in Clinical Practices in Psychology at The University of Hartford as well as a core faculty member in their doctoral program, Professor Leve believes deeply that sports can help create a truly healthy lifestyle. "Sports can add a great balance in life. I, myself, balanced a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Harvard University with active involvement in sports."

Understand, then, skiing can be healthy and healthful. In fact, Professor Leve is one of those rare individuals who has balanced a successful career and academic life with multiple sports interests ranging from coaching the United States Soaring Team to numerous sailing adventures all over the globe. And, similarly, both his daughters have crafted highly successful careers with world-wide travel, international research, as well an adventurous lifestyle.

Sitting in the base lodge, last season, during the college ski break after the New Year's, many students were chatting about classes.

And some were talking about pending applications to graduate school. 

One fellow was making an application to law school. His top choice? Vermont Law School, nationally known for its contributions to environmental law. Still, this was not the sole student exploring advanced academic programs within the region. Another student was making an application to a doctoral program in clinical psychology? His top choice? Antioch University in Keene, NH.

3--Top -3---Killington -College

 "I grew up skiing weekends," he commented. "But, I'd like to attend a program nearer to the mountains. I'm thinking it will provide the opportunity to see if it's a place I might like to live permanently. It's a good program and I'd live in my parents winter place in Vermont."

In short, then, both undergraduates and graduate students make choices based, at least in part, on their access to skiing here in the mountains. Some travel weekends. Some ski on semester break. Some attend nearby colleges and universities.

Honestly, given the nations' rising rates of obesity, and with national concerns about our health, learning to create a healthy balance of work and athletic play may be more important then we all realize.

"Sports truly can truly enhance your life," emphasizes Leve.

How well balanced is your life? Have you turned off your cell to truly enjoy your escape? Have you selected a healthy lunch? How do you balance sports (i.e. skiing) with your daily life? Here at The Mountain Times and at many other local businesses, we treasure our adventures on and around the mountains. Several folks who live and work here now, once attended schools nearby. Afterall, with institutions as respected as Middlebury College and Dartmouth College so close, and many many others, there is no shortage of programs in higher education.

In college, or out, balancing work and play can still be challenging, perhaps even more so when options for play are so accessible! But the rewards exceed the costs everytime!

As you sit in the lodges the next few weeks do not be surprised if you see and hear college students - and graduate students - taking a break from the books. January 6-18 are the Colligent Weeks at Killington!

So take a moment and turn off the cell; take a break from texting. Savor your time on the mountain. And join the students for a real "break!"

You'll be smiling from that first run to that last run.

Columnist Tony Crespi is a former ski school supervisor and coach whose column is published throughout the season. He is a frequent contributor to publications throughout snow country.