College is perhaps one of the busiest times in a person’s life. Sure, classes themselves do not take a huge chunk of time out of a student’s day. A more extreme schedule would see maybe a total of about four hours spent actually sitting inside a classroom with a professor on a given day. However, that is still four hours on some days that are committed to working, four hours taken away from being able to do things that you want to do purely for enjoyment.
Then there is homework. This is where most of a student’s time is dedicated. Students are told that they can expect to do three hours of work outside of the classroom per credit hour each week. This means that, for a standard three credit hour class, students do roughly twelve hours of individual work per week. Most students average a 15 credit hour semester, leading to an estimated 60 hours of work outside of the classroom per week. For students that like a challenge and take 18 credit hours a semester, that is 72 hours of individual work per week. Often, this is really dependent on the professor. Some professors give less work and others give more. It also changes based on how fast or slow the student is. Some students require more time to do specific tasks, such as writing papers, because it is not their strong suit. This would force them to spend more time doing work for classes that are slightly more difficult for them. This give and take in regards to the amount of time a student needs to dedicate to homework is important to note because, if there is a student who works at a slower pace on average, that 60 or 72 hours will be even higher.
Classes and homework are two aspects of college that all students share. However, when you take a look at Berry specifically, another time consumer that the majority of Berry students share is a job. Due to the LifeWorks program, many Berry students work all four years of college. The limit Berry places on the amount of hours students can work per week is helpful in managing time, but that is still 10 to 12 hours to consider, depending on the student’s class, as time away from leisure activities. Of course, students do not have to work, and if they do choose to, they do not have to work the maximum amount of hours. College is expensive, though, and it is always helpful to have some pocket money, leading most Berry students to work as much as possible.
While a less common factor, extracurriculars must be taken into consideration as something that students do that detracts from their leisure time. Yes, many of these activities are things that students enjoy doing. However, not all students are doing them purely for enjoyment. College athletes lose extraordinary amounts of time to both morning and night practices and the actual games themselves. It is fair to say that most college athletes enjoy their sport, but a decent amount of them rely on said sport for a scholarship. Without this scholarship, they may not be able to pay for school. This means that they cannot simply stop participating in their sport in order to gain more time for themselves. The same goes for scholarship groups, such as the Bonner scholars, that are demanding of a student’s spare time. Clubs take less time, though general members and especially officers do devote at least a bit of time each week or every other week to the group. These can also be dropped more easily than a sport, but considering some of the clubs may look good on job applications, a lot of students do not feel it wise to discontinue them. When you are constantly told that you have to have a perfect, full and shiny resume, dropping even one minor activity can feel like a fatal mistake.
This is a lot of stuff to balance, and it can often feel overwhelming. Countless students feel as if they constantly have to be doing something and that they are unable to take leisure time for themselves, even on weekends. It is important to remember, though, that leisure time has proven psychological and physical benefits that should not be ignored. Doctor Lynn Zubernis of Psychology Today highlighted these positives.
“There are both physical and psychological benefits of leisure time, with reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression; improved mood; and higher levels of positive emotion,” Zubernis said. “Engaging in recreational activities can also lower cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate.”
The lack of leisure time that college students have is detrimental to both their psychological and physical health. College faculty need to be more aware of how much work they are causing their students to have, and students must choose to set aside time for themselves. Students have to learn to prioritize their health over other factors, even looking good on resumes, and make sure that they are truly enjoying all the wonderful little parts of life. They should not have to constantly be stressed out, especially not when they are trying to have some time for themselves.