The life of an MSU ski bum.
There are a lot of universities across the nation, each possessing different traits that ultimately draw in high-schoolers. Some schools stress education, some are research-intensive, some emphasize social culture, but Montana State University sports a unique priority. Ask any student why he or she chose MSU and you’ll see a pattern. They’re here for the skiing.
MSU, jovially coined Bridger Bowl University, is nestled in the ideal location for a ski bum who, coincidently, wants a college degree. For many of the enrolled, coursework is a supplement—just in case their pro-skier careers don’t take off. Students structure their class schedules to accommodate their required Bridger Bowl Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while carefully ensuring their spring semester is fluffed with enough “manageable” courses. It’d be a shame if school interfered with getting 50 days on the snow. And the curriculum caters. MSU professors structure their classes toward students and value education above all else—unless it snows ten inches, in which case a powder clause carefully written into the syllabus grants both the students and teachers a day of important learning in the Bridger Bowl classroom.
Other schools take pride in Greek life or football, but at MSU, you’d be hard-pressed to find a frat party or Saturday tailgate that compares to closing weekend at Bridger.
To the outsider, a college ski bum is a lazy, aimless, unproductive member of society. For some, this parasitic appearance is the unfortunate truth, but the reality for the majority is quite the opposite. MSU ski bums are some of the smartest, thriftiest, hardest-working college students in the nation, contributing greatly to their local community. It’s not easy juggling the stress of skiing and sometimes school. Plus, skiing is far from cheap, so many work at least one job in town: waiting tables, making coffee, or working at local outdoor magazines. How else would they pay for skis, multiple passes, gas, camera gear, and beer for après? Make sure to tip your servers; they’ve probably got a few ski trips to save up for.
Other schools take pride in Greek life or football, but at MSU, you’d be hard-pressed to find a frat party or Saturday tailgate that compares to closing weekend at Bridger. What’s truly sought after is riding the Bridger Lift, hollering at familiar faces from campus as they rip slushy bumps wearing bikinis, jorts, and ill-fitting eyewear. That’s where the true merrymaking is.
A four-year degree coupled with a full-time ski schedule is hard work, requiring plentiful discipline in all aspects.
Students esteem these core ski values throughout campus, making it easy to make and keep friends. Regardless of age, hometown, or major, MSU students are always game to find new ski buddies. Mondays you ski with Sam from Chemistry, Wednesdays with Erika from Spanish, and Fridays you try your luck, finding as many people you know on the mountain as possible. The college ski-bum culture permeates into constant social gatherings. Warm waves in lift lines, casual catch-ups on lift rides, and post-ski beers with longtime friends make MSU’s social culture unlike that of any other institution.
Sure, it’s not for everyone. A four-year degree coupled with a full-time ski schedule is hard work, requiring plentiful discipline in all aspects. The last thing you want do is fail a class, or worse, miss a powder day. But for the right person, getting a college ski-bum degree might just lead to the best years of your life. Learn lots, ski lots.