Opinion | Leisure based courses are worth students taking

Students often overlook classes offered by UI labeled as “Lifetime leisure skills.” That’s a mistake.


Peter Anders, Opinions Columnist

College students’ schedules are often similar to one another in the most obvious of ways.

Their schedules focus on fulfilling prerequisites and courses that generally go toward completing their majors. Very rarely do you tend to see students take courses offered “just because.”

While some may argue it’s pointless to throw money at activities that don’t go toward your degree, what good is focusing on academics if you’re too burned out within a semester or two to complete them? The mindset of “this doesn’t help my degree so it doesn’t matter” is a bad way to approach college in the first place. You’re there to learn more than just the stuff you need for your job, you’re there to acquire experiences that’ll help in the long run.

This is a mistake. This mindset leads students to miss out on opportunities for personal growth, learning experiences, and stress relief. Students should be encouraged to take leisure courses offered at the University of Iowa.

The UI offers courses that are not purely academic in nature. These classes, labeled under “Lifetime Leisure Skills,” range from lessons on scuba diving, gardening, and backpacking, to various sports such as soccer and martial arts.

In America, it is already well known that students are becoming increasingly too focused on pure academics, or worse, just their GPA.

Because the “Lifetime Leisure Skills” courses operate on a “Pass/Fail” grading scale, they have zero impact on one’s own GPA. Thus, students may be less inclined to pursue them.

This is a mistake and perhaps a consequence of the way they were told to think about academics and college overall.

The crisis of the overworked and overstressed college student has been known and discussed endlessly. Many studies prove over and over that stressed-out students perform worse academically than those less stressed. There is an obvious negative effect of stress on the mental health of students.

A good tactic for combatting the feeling of being stressed or overwhelmed has been to get physically active.

While not the same as having one’s own personal trainer, lifetime leisure activities provide a good way for students with small gaps in their schedules to fit in some exercise when they may not have done so otherwise. The excuse of “I feel too lazy to do a workout” does not hold as much water when one remembers the course, while not affecting overall GPA, still goes on a college transcript.

Fortunately, it is not as though the courses offered by UI under the “Lifetime Leisure Skills” category have zero or low attendance on the whole. Oftentimes, it seems as though available spaces in these classes fill up surprisingly quickly.

The benefits of leisure activities and side activities are already extensively documented, with it being reported to add as much as 4.5 years to one’s own lifespan.

Nevertheless, it feels like the UI does not inform incoming freshmen of these types of courses unless those students inquire about them on their own. The courses may not be something at the top of the list to inform incoming freshmen of, but it seems like students aren’t even told about them at all.

It is a real shame, considering the first year as a college freshman is the most stressful for some students. The myth of the “Freshman Fifteen” was not created in a vacuum. It exists because it’s so well known how stressful life as a freshman is. Informing these incoming students about the more laid-back and relaxing leisure courses would definitely work as a benefit for those students.

College life in America is notoriously difficult and stressful. Beyond the harmful obsession drilled into students’ heads regarding grade importance and how academics should be viewed, there are also social and life stressors.

“Lifetime Leisure Skills” courses may not affect one’s GPA or the degree they are pursuing, but taking them can provide rewarding experiences and a good way to relieve the stressful life of being a student here at Iowa.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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