The Importance of Having Hobbies as a College Student
While we may be Fort Hays State tigers, we are also busy bees, constantly buzzing from one class to the next. Many of us also have jobs outside of our studies. Between work and classwork, how can we possibly make time for a hobby? As a fellow college student, trust me, I know that feeling.
My schedule involves juggling online courses with quizzes every week, three-hour art classes, and graphic design projects that involve hours of bending over a computer. How could I possibly feel like drawing after all of that? Nevertheless, I find it is when I am most stressed that doodles begin taking over my class notes. After a hard day at school, nothing feels better than cracking open my sketchbook and doodling whatever pops into my head. Art is my hobby.
For me and many others, hobbies are a way to relieve stress and break up the monotony of daily life. They are a chance to pursue what you truly enjoy doing. I do not let my busy schedule get in the way of my passions, and neither should you. In fact, the fuller and more stress-inducing your schedule is, the more you could benefit from having a hobby.
A Mental Escape
One reason having a hobby is an effective stress-reliever is that it allows us to disconnect from work. While, yes, you could see hobbies as another object on your to-do list, the difference is that it is something you truly enjoy doing.
Ironically, when I have to draw for a project, I find it less enjoyable. The reason? I have the weight of a time deadline and self-doubt on my shoulders. When doing something simply for yourself, you lose this self-consciousness. You stop worrying about what others think and instead get lost in the process of doing something you love. This explains why it is important to have pursuits outside of work.
While kicking back on the couch and watching television is a great way to unwind (and takes up more of my leisure time than I would like to admit), partaking in a hobby helps stimulate the mind and block out other distractions and concerns fighting for your attention. When you are passionate about an activity, you stop watching the clock. You are able to achieve a clarity of mind, away from grades and homework worries.
This focus and clarity may even transfer to the rest of your life, your energy and mentality restored. Which brings us to our next point.
Some hobby suggestions: completing puzzles, journaling, podcasting, cooking or baking.
Often, it is not the issue of finding time for your hobbies. Rather, it is that we end up misusing the precious leisure time we have. Do you know how I mentioned watching television as a good way to unwind? Just be aware that while Netflix and social media can help you relax, they also eat away your time without providing you much satisfaction.
Another factor: time management. According to Parkinson’s law, "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." This means that if we have more time than is needed to complete a task, we will often stretch that task out to fill our time. An example would be having a homework assignment and working on it from the time you get out of class to late into the night. Could you have possibly gotten the assignment done faster? Throw in a motivating factor, such as you had practice or a club meeting later that night. If you have other obligations, it could encourage you to complete your work quicker.
Thus, having a hobby can cause you to increase your efficiency in other areas of your life so as to “create time” for what you really want to do. In a way, it is all just a mind game (cue Twilight Zone theme tune).
Some hobby suggestions: organized sports, volunteering.
Brain and Brawn
While physical hobbies obviously benefit your health, there are also more subtle benefits to having a hobby. Having a hobby could lower your blood pressure and increase your overall energy.
For a shy person with low self-esteem such as myself, there’s an extra benefit: a boost in confidence. Accomplishing tasks that we set for ourselves and that we are passionate about can increase our sense of control and mastery. Without the pressure of your work being judged, you can achieve things in comfort and at your own pace.
It is for these reasons that hobbies have been associated with an overall improvement in mental health and a reduction in depression levels. Better physical and mental health, all for the low price of doing something you love!
A healthy social life is another important factor in your mental health, and hobbies have a cure.
Some hobby suggestions: yoga, martial arts, jogging, meditating, gardening.
Hobbies are a great way to meet new people and an amazing conversation starter. Do you like fishing? Me too! Hobbies allow you to connect to others with common interests. Bonds created through shared interests are often stronger and can further promote the benefits discussed above (such as mental health and efficiency).
Chances are if you have a passion, there is a club for it. The internet is your friend. Do not be afraid to lookup local meet up groups or search for others who share your passions. Fort Hays State University has plenty of clubs and group activities that you can be a part of. If you are looking to be a part of a club or organization, check out the following link: https://tigerlink.fhsu.edu/organizations.
You are not limited there, however. Why not start your own club or organization? Then you get the extra satisfaction of helping others pursue their passion.
Some hobby suggestions: book club, paint night events, game nights (such as playing board games, video games, or cards).
A New Identity
Your hobby could have a larger influence on your life. Enjoying a hobby and the skills and experience you gain from it could inspire you to pursue opportunities in a different field of business or learning. Maybe a career change is just what you needed, and your new-found hobby is what you needed to make the leap. Not to mention, they look good on a resume.
Soft skills (such as problem-solving, speaking, creativity, and time-management) can be picked up from having hobbies and give you that extra edge above the competition when looking for a job. Employers (and people and general) appreciate someone who is truly passionate about their work. The fact that you had this hobby and put in the time and effort to develop skills outside of school and your career shows that you are a diverse learner and a high achiever.
As a plus, you will have an answer to that obligatory interview question of “what are your hobbies?” that is more impressive than your YouTube watch history.
Some hobby suggestions: skill development, debate.
Show Me the Money
Besides potentially getting you a job, your hobby could be a great way to make money on the side. Believe it or not, hobbies do not have to be expensive or nonprofitable. Some hobbies, such as crafting, quilting, and creating business cards produce products that you could sell for a quick buck. You keep the benefits of experience and boosting your creativity while a happy consumer goes home with a one-of-a-kind gift they could not get at Walmart.
If you are like me and you have a hard time letting go of personal works, maybe start a hobby with making a little money in mind. For example, my sister and I do caricatures and cartoon portraits for people in our free time.
Some hobby suggestions: knitting, quilting, painting, investing.
Fort Hays State: Hobby Central
To summarize, having a hobby or two has a wide variety of benefits for any college student, no matter your schedule. From improved mental health to possibly making a bit of money, all you need to do is better manage your time for doing what you love.
All that is left is to decide what hobby that is. Maybe it is something you enjoy doing that you have let slip away from you. Maybe you are looking for an entirely new experience. If that is the case, the best place to start is to ask yourself a few questions. Do you prefer being alone or around others? Are you athletic or artistic? What results would you like to see (e.g. learning a new skill, improving mental or physical health)?
Still stuck on what hobby to choose? Fear not, because Fort Hays State University is teaming with opportunity. Follow the following link to find information on Fraternities and Sororities, clubs and organizations, activities and events, programs, and more offered at Fort Hays State University: https://www.fhsu.edu/engage/index.
Mild-mannered student by day, writer by night... but typically by day, I’m Bailey Werner, current junior and graphic design major at Fort Hays State University. With a passion for storytelling that stemmed from 3rd grade writing hour, I’ve been crafting worlds and characters as a hobby for over a decade. Now, as a part-time content creator for the school, I’m living out my dream of writing professionally. If I’m not in my room reading, gaming, or making art, you can find me at the lake. I strongly believe in the power of storytelling, and I’ll continue to use my writing skills after graduation, in my work as a graphic designer.