College students should be encouraged to adopt pets, plants

Iqra Rafey/The Cougar

As many students make the return to school this fall, anticipation will inevitably fester as students prepare to plunge back into their studies.

This first day of college will set the pace for students’ academic year. While freshmen breathe a sigh of relief for getting in, they are yet to face the hardest part: showing up.

Difficulty with showing up stems from the newfound freedom of college life. Many students are sold on an oversaturated version of college that paints everything to be picture perfect. 

This preconceived notion from the media that college will be the best four years of a student’s lives set many up for disappointment.

Admissions directors nationally find that the number one tool to keeping students on track is routine. By establishing a routine, students get better sleep, procrastinate less and find more time to relax. 

But routine is harder to establish for commuter students, which is detrimental for schools like the University where 85 percent of students commute.

With that in mind, a furry friend may provide the perfect solution.

While it is important to evaluate one’s living and financial situation, those who have the means to adopt a pet should consider it.

Students with pets have an easier time sticking to a routine, as they require strict schedules. Moreover, these students are given companionship and allow students to connect with each other. 

This is especially important to commuter students, as many have a harder time building those on-campus connections. 

Pets also benefit students both psychologically and socially.

Pets such as dogs may require three to five good walks a day, which encourages owners to get out and exercise. Dog owners also have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, better heart health and are less likely to report feeling lonely or depressed. 

In fact, a quarter of college pet owners reported that pets helped them get through a difficult time. 

For those who are unable to adopt, volunteering at animal shelters, studying at pet friendly cafes or becoming a pet godparent also proves helpful in relieving student stress and boosting student drive. 

Residence hall students aren’t fully out of luck either.

Plants also show similar benefits to that of a fluffy friend.

While perhaps a little less cuddly and a little pricklier, plants are great for students who are ready to delve into their academics.

A plant rich environment can improve memory and concentration by 20 percent. Plants are also linked to improving mental cognition, heightening performance and boosting tranquility. 

Popularized in 1984 by E. O. Wilson, the biophilia hypothesis states that people directly benefit from being in settings lush with plant life and that plants can help improve overall life satisfaction.

Since 1984, three decades of research have been done investigating the hypothesis and have confirmed that plants increase positive emotions. 

Other research studies have shown that being with plants for 20 minutes can boost mood and that plants can help decrease depression in enclosed spaces, such as dorms. In fact, the brighter the plant the better. Reports show that it’s good to have a variety of plants from rich greens to vibrant blues. 

While parents will inevitably roll their eyes and release a haughty sigh at the mention of college students adopting pets, the science shows that these cuddly friends actually help college students quite a bit. 

And, if all else fails, a plant can also help lighten the mood. 

Sarah Elise Shea is a freshman English literature major who can be reached at [email protected]

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