For some students at Westminster College, the desire to ski prioritizes what classes they register for. Those students who look forward to skiing “the greatest snow on earth” said they try to stack their classes to create school-free days.
“During the winter semester, I stack my schedule two days a week,” said Aiden Ulrich, a 20-year-old communication major. “I’m going [to have classes] on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 in the morning to seven at night.”
Students who spend half the year thinking of snow said the process of picking classes is important. Taking fewer classes and stacking them on one day helps them spend more time in the mountains while still getting good grades.
“If I need to go to a competition or a trip, I can skip two days of school and have, like, over a week off,” Ulrich said. “I try to take classes that have less of a workload—classes I know [will] work better during the winter that I know I’m going to miss at least a few times.”
However, not everyone is willing to have two packed days of school to spend more time on the mountains.
“As much as I want to prioritize skiing, I can’t really justify letting [it] take over my life,” said Sally Miller, an environmental studies major and outdoor education minor. “I know that if I stacked all my classes on one day, it’d be way too overwhelming for me.”
Students who can’t change their schedules to have more snow time said they still can’t resist skipping classes when it snows over 15 inches. Some Westminster students said they’ve “called in sick to class” to ski fresh powder.
“If there’s a powder day, I’m not going to class; I’ll be on the mountains so quick,” said Serena Blake, a first-year student who said she loves backcountry skiing. “I skip classes only if there is a good reason, and a powder day is a good reason.”
Students who aren’t skiing on powder days said they see class sizes noticeably impacted.
Sara D’Agostino, a 20-year-old finance major, said her classes become smaller on snowy days, which she said doesn’t surprise her. Students’ absences also don’t surprise Westminster professors, who said they notice the decrease in attendance on snowy days too.
Jennifer Ritter, an associate professor of English at Westminster College, said if she hears about 15 to 20 inches of fresh snow at Alta or Snowbird, she knows she won’t see some students in class.
“Usually [students] don’t email me or tell me why they are missing classes, but I usually know why,” Ritter said. “I always accept the fact that they are adults. It’s their choice.”
Ritter said in her experience, skipping one or two classes because of skiing usually won’t hurt students’ grades too much—unless they miss an exam day.
However, a few Westminster students said that as much as they love powder days, skiing should never get in the way of school.
“I don’t let it affect my grades too much because I prioritize school over skiing,” Miller said. “If I have an assignment due and it dumps in the mountains, I’m going to stay in the valley and do my homework instead of go out and ski.”