School or Ski? | Is it Better to go to College or be a Ski Bum?

School or Ski? | Is it Better to go to College or be a Ski Bum?


School or Ski? | Is it Better to go to College or be a Ski Bum?


Chris Tatsuno

The Ultimate Ski Bum Aspen’s Chris Tatsuno.

The decision of what to do after high school is rough for lots of people. For a someone really passionate about skiing it can be even tougher. The hard core skier has likely been watching MSP, TGR and PBP movies over and over and over for years and they want to get in on the action. Whether you have dreams of being a pro, or if you just want to get out an ski every day the idea of spending another 4+ years in school while knowing that others are out there getting after it is troubling. Unofficial writer and TGR star Griffin Post has written an article about this dilema for  Here is one more funny guys opinion of how the ski bum game works...I think he is dead on! This post is my two cents as well.


If you are aspiring to become a pro and are already doing well in major competitions or you already have a major film segment or two then skipping school and going for it might be the answer.

If you dont have these things going for you already it might be time to re-assess your chances of making a living off an industry that is light on dough. Most “Pro” skiers I know still hold down one or two jobs just to pay the rent. Remember that you can’t pay rent with free goggles and you can’t eat that sweet beanie for dinner. 

Ski bum

As bad as it is hitting the books for another 4 years, it does not have to be so terrible. If you choose your institute of higher learning partially based on proximity to the ski hill you might get in more play time than you think. If you go to school at the University of Utah, Western State in CO, University of Nevada in Reno, Western State in Bellinham, University of BC in Vancouver, Montana State in Bozeman or one of the many schools back East in VT and plan your schedule well– you can easily ski 4-5 days per week. I was always a big fan of the Tuesday/Thursday Stack, where you only take classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays leaving 5 full days for skiing. That sets you up for about 100 days per year while going to school full-time. That sounds pretty good to me! Can you add any more schools to this list?

While most of these schools do not have the sexy image of say UC Boulder, Arizona State, or USC what they lack in the party scene they make up for in adrenaline filled days in the mountains.  What is your priority, skiing or partying? 


College is not for everyone, but if you are planning to go at some point I recommend going right after high school and knocking it out. Unless of course you have a room full of x-games medals or plans to go shoot in AK for 4 weeks next year with MSP. Hopefully you will get loads of turns in while you are in school and then even more once you graduate and become a full blown ski bum.  The choice is yours, take some time to plan it out so you can maximize your education and your ski time.

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