The Concept of “Cool”

Growing up, nearly everyone wanted to be one of the “cool kids.” It was hard to define what exactly made some people cool and others not, but it was always something you just inherently knew when you saw it. The desire to be cool is not necessarily something that goes away when you get older and enter college.

We at the Foghorn have wondered what exactly is perceived as “cool” here at USF.

Our deliberations have produced one conclusion: there’s really not one single definition of “cool” here at the University. If you find something you enjoy, most people will admire your enthusiasm.

USF has a fluid criteria for “coolness” because we are in an unusual college environment. We don’t have that movie-like Greek life and sports-centric campus atmosphere. With this comes a social structure that is flexible; you don’t need to only hang out with athletes or only hang out with hipsters. As a result, it is not abnormal to have people who view music as their main passion hanging out with athletes (more or less).

Since the social scene at USF is free-flowing, the same goes with our definition of “cool.”  

What we view as cool is influenced by our maturity level. When you get older, you realize that it’s silly and immature to dedicate your time to judging people for what they like. You get to define “cool” for yourself on campus. In general, as long as something makes you happy, your peers will respect whatever you’re doing. For example, if you’re into underground music and someone else is not, they won’t think, “This person sucks because we have different taste.” They’ll probably just think, “Oh, cool, this person likes that,” and not think about it again.

Part of the reason why the definition of “cool” is so fluid in college as compared to high school is that college is a less rigid environment. There isn’t that “Mean Girls”-esque culture where a small group of students dominate the social scene and decide what everyone should and shouldn’t do. USF students have a whole city to focus on, and (thankfully) this doesn’t let the University culture be the guardian of “cool.” In high school, you live in a fishbowl. At times, it could feel like you were constantly being judged by your entire school. But that doesn’t happen at USF — perhaps because we are also simply more mature now than we were back then.

As cliché as it may sound, college is the place where you are supposed to find yourself. However, you can’t do it if you’re constantly thinking about living up to other people’s expectations. Thankfully, at USF, everyone is free to find their “cool factor” wherever they’d like.


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