In search of free lunches: Exploring your university's event calendar.
At the expense of UChicago alumnus Milton Friedman, today I
want to remind you of something that has served me well both in college and as
a graduate student. No matter what you might have heard in your economics
class, on college campuses throughout the United States there is indeed such
a thing as a “free lunch.” I mean this quite literally: nothing attracts
students to on-campus events like free food and drink.
If you are looking for a good way to branch out from your
coursework, meet new people and fill your stomach, you could do much worse than
to look up your university’s Event
Calendar. I am using UChicago’s site as an example, but every school will
have something similar to catalog events around campus. If the catering doesn’t
attract your interest, let me add that in the past month alone, I’ve spent my
lunch hour dining with U.S. congressmen, Nobel prize winners, two ambassadors
and a host of distinguished faculty, all for free. By trawling through the list
of visiting speakers, dignitaries and performances to attend, you can not only
add value to your degree but also enjoy yourself in the company of like-minded
peers and notables.
But what type of events are there? How do I go to them?
Let’s consider some of the most common variations I attend at UChicago and IndianaUniversity:
A workshop is in many respects a miniature academic conference: students and faculty are
invited to present research and solicit feedback on their work in an informal
meeting. These events generally last 2-3 hours and allow audience members to
enter into dialog with faculty, presenters and guest lecturers in a variety of
fields. They generally meet on a regular schedule throughout the year and have
a departmental theme or regional focus and present research on a consistent
topic. No registration is generally required, although as a graduate student
you may wish to schedule a presentation for your own work at some point.
2. Colloquia and Lectures
series is generally a number of lectures by invited speakers organized on a
weekly or monthly basis. They may be practitioners in a certain field,
professors, university administrators or alumni who present a certain topic of
interest to an audience. Unlike a workshop, the purpose of the event is not
critique the lecturer, although lectures are followed by an opportunity to ask
questions and speak with the presenter, giving you unparalleled access to top
minds in your field. Events may fill up or have a limited number of participants,
so be certain to inquire whether it is necessary to sign up in advance to hear
3. Film Series, Performances and Concerts
As you may expect, this category covers a range of cultural events around campus.
Plays, regular movie screenings followed by a lecture or discussion and musical
recitals are all common and may be performed by students or professionals.
These are generally organized in seasons or perhaps a thematic series organized
by an academic department or student club. While they may not be academic in
nature, adding some artistic expression to your academic program is never a bad
idea. Such events may charge admission, however discounts or free tickets are
generally available with your student ID.
These are just a few suggestions of what you might
find at your own school. If you are still in the process of applying to
universities, take a look at their website to see what events there interest
you or might be useful to your studies. For those of you already taking
classes, I suggest taking advantage of each and every opportunity to attend
something new that comes your way—you never know what might learn or who you might meet.
*Chasefuture is now Dyad.
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