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September 04, 2014

Emerson orientation leaders pose during a summer training session (Mike Petroff/Flickr CC).

On Emerson College's first day of classes, the corner of Boylston and Tremont streets swarm with students; students drinking coffee, students smoking cigarettes, students wearing skinny jeans and plaid. In short, a small corner of Boston chock-full of hipsters.

And while "hipster" may not seem like an apt description of Boston's population as a whole, it does describe the students at Emerson College, at least according to College Magazine, an online and in-print publication written by college students.

On their annual list of the ten most hipster campuses in the country, Emerson College comes in at number seven. The Boston-based arts school is ranked along with Brown University in Rhode Island, Maryland Institute College of Art, and NYU.

But what exactly is a hipster?

"A hipster is someone who's not something else, not mainstream, not traditional, not following the current trends but following some sort of future trends before they're trends," says Ryan Catalani, the editor-in-chief of Emerson's student newspaper.

Walking around Emerson's downtown campus and talking to Emerson students, Catalani says you can spot hipster hallmarks everywhere -- from the non-traditional artwork lining the halls, to students' music choices of "new indie bands, or old indie bands, but only their first records."

While those in Boston may have always known Emerson for what it is, a performing arts school with a quirky edge, the word is getting out. Every U.S. state is represented in the student body, as well as 75 different countries.  This past year the school received 8,709 applications for its incoming class of 865.

The college was initially founded as an oratory school, but throughout it's 130-year history it's consistently broken grounds in communication education, becoming the first college to offer an undergraduate program for broadcasting and later the first school to offer a BA in film.

Emerson President Lee Pelton says that attracts a creative, unique and diverse student body.

"Emerson students are doers and they are passionate about what they do. They do it with gusto," Pelton says. "We value innovation at Emerson, we value creativity. At Emerson creativity cuts across all disciplines.".

It's a stereotype that Emerson students embrace.

"Emerson is a hipster school, it's definitely out of the ordinary. You won't see many other schools where their top sport is Quidditch,"  says Nicole Simeone, a junior studying TV production. "It's a one of a kind experience. You meet all different people with all different interests."

Paul Lazo is a senior studying film production. He's heading to his first day of class wearing a velvet blue suit jacket and plaid shoes.

"It's my last first day of classes, so I figured I'd get dressed up because why not," Lazo said. "Unfortunately I think it is (hipster). But what can I say, you got to dress classy." 

If you're still not convinced, just do a quick Google search of #SoEmerson.

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