But it's still important for students to stay on pace with their academic majors and corresponding classes, says Nicole DeLoatch, academic adviser in the sociology department of the University of Maryland. She encourages students to tailor their electives to their main academic focus or to earn credit hours through internships rather than recreational classes
[Learn why nonsummer internships work best for some students.]
DeLoatch says if students take advantage of all their career- and academic-oriented opportunities first, like Troyer did at Auburn, then they can consider a recreational class.
"If they've studied abroad, they've had an internship, they completed their major requirements, and they've also completed some elective requirements that help them strategically fulfill their future career or educational goal, then ... we encourage them to take courses to 'lighten the load,' so to speak," DeLoatch says.
And according to Clemson's Anderson and Rajput at Hamline, those recreational classes can even help with academic classes. Anderson had trouble in his statistics class as an undergraduate at Western Illinois University, so he purposefully took a meditation class right before the course, which, he says, helped him relax and clear his mind.
Exercise also improves concentration and mood, Rajput says, which he feels often helps students focus when studying. As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Rajput took a racquetball class and experienced these benefits firsthand.
"One of the sad things about becoming an adult is that we sometimes get so preoccupied with serious pursuits that we forget how to play," he says. "But activities like sports, which allow you to lose yourself in the moment, can be incredibly restorative."
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