As another class registration cycle approaches, it can be easy to treat it like another task on a checklist. Classes are tough – though we love them – and the prospect of a new batch of classes might not be so appealing right now. However, we all owe it to ourselves not to let the inscription turn into a mundane task of minimal joy. Yes, this is another set of tasks: scrolling through the student information system for courses and completing counseling sessions. But it’s also an opportunity to treat yourself to something new next semester. There has never been a better time to take the course you’ve always wanted to take, or to dig through the SIS for those hidden gems you wouldn’t otherwise see.
As university students, we experience a unique mental health crisis in our daily lives. Setting aside time each day for eating, exercising, and resting is essential to keep our bodies and minds healthy, but demand from college can make that difficult. I can only speak for myself, but it’s often the little things that add up. You skip the grocery shopping this week because you had to reload your laundry tab. You don’t eat dinner because you have late classes. You lose sleep while studying and reading. You don’t give yourself the space to just breathe and step back and look at yourself and see how you are doing. College makes these things almost impossible to avoid. The importance of routine is often highlighted as a key fighter against depression and anxiety simply because it forces us to find the time to take care of ourselves.
While routines can be a wonderful thing for mental health, they also carry the potential for harm. We can easily put ourselves on autopilot as soon as we get into the groove of a routine. It’s great for eating and sleeping, but awkward when it comes to how we learn. We live in a world of demands. We have to meet the official requirements – major requirements, minimum cumulative grade point average, and often required course attendance. We need to meet the unspoken – the internships we need to boost our resumes and the extracurricular activities we often join to do the same, though these can certainly be transformative experiences. And we have to respond to the specifics of the situation of many students: working to stay in school, paying rent and shopping for groceries. These demands on top of the necessities on top of even more demands are daunting. They put us in a routine that can make it seem like it conquers us more than we conquer it.
In short, mental health is a balancing act. Being a student is a balancing act. I cannot assume a single answer to these problems. Onsite services are available, but I know it can be difficult to find time, even for these. With this article, I offer recognition for our often unspoken issues, as well as something that helps me personally.
Course registration expands this list of official requirements. While many of us follow strict class paths that make it difficult to take classes outside of our departments, I encourage those of us who can to take a non-compulsory class this spring. The number of courses on SIS can be overwhelming, but there really is a remarkable set of courses each semester that you would never know if you weren’t looking for them.
For example, most of the language departments in Grounds provide translation courses. You can take Arabic, Russian and Japanese literature and media courses in English. It is an exciting way to explore other cultures in an accessible way. Elsewhere, the Media Studies department offers courses in animated film and television, Iranian cinema, and hip-hop culture. Why not put a little Pixar in your schedule? Why not branch out and finally take that course in the Psychology, Astronomy, or Slavic department you’ve been hearing about since arriving at Grounds? Take that as a sign to finally do this. There are endless other courses that I could have included here.
Taking a course in a more specialized subject, which focuses on another part of the world or just outside of your normal studies, is one way to break the pattern of strict routine. These courses might not count towards your major or minor, but they will offer you something fresh and new, something that will diversify your schedule and hopefully give you a truly unique semester. Don’t be afraid of the classes located in the section of SIS that you have never visited. Give them a chance. Most importantly, give yourself the benefit of breaking – or even just chipping – the stringent demands that we face every day.
Bryce Wyles is an opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at [email protected]
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Cavalier Daily. The columns represent the views of the authors alone.