On the Importance of Having Fun

From Inside Higher Ed:

Many students say that they avoid early morning classes so they can get enough sleep to do well. But a study by psychology professors at St. Lawrence University, of students there, finds that the assumption of those who favor sleeping in is only partly correct. The study found that those with later classes indeed get more sleep. But those who get more sleep appear to use their rest to go out more and to abuse alcohol more than do other students. So it is the slightly more tired students who are in the early classes who earn higher grade-point averages, the professors found.

I don’t know about their grade-point average, but the students who don’t go out a lot and have fun with friends are missing an important stage in their development. Nothing is sadder than a 20-year-old who obsesses about some stupid grade-point average instead of enjoying existence to the fullest. When I hear a kid telling me gravely, “Oh, who has time for a hobby / sport / boyfriend / girlfriend / a pet, etc. I have to do homework!”, I always feel sorry for them. It’s the kids who never partied enough in their youth who get into horrible mid-life crises in their forties and start making up for not having had any fun in their twenties.

This is why when I come into class on Monday, I always ask my students, “Did you get to party over the weekend? No? That’s no good, folks.” And before I leave them on Friday, I always say, “Have a great weekend and don’t forget to have fun!”

16 thoughts on “On the Importance of Having Fun

  1. I don’t party. I can’t stand being around large groups of people. But I do hang out with friends and other people a lot.

    As for early classes, I have those too, but only because I’m also in the band, and so have to make sure I have no classes after 3:30. It’s all about balance. You can have fun and worry about grades–I’ve noticed there’s lots of time for both.

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    1. I’m not into real people, either. Just the online ones. 🙂 Whatever a person’s way to unwind is, it’s important to make use of it often. I adore my job but the only reason I manage to enjoy it so much is that I avoid burn-out by practicing my hobbies (blogging, walking and reading trashy books.) 🙂

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  2. I set aside weekends for that. All my homework is done Friday afternoon, and Friday night, Saturday and Sunday are me-time. 🙂
    I just got back from a schnitzel tasting, for example. 🙂

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  3. I have a question for the North American readers of this post: could someone please explain what the strange phrase ‘abuse alcohol’ means? I assume it means they drink in copious quantities. But how would drinking equal abusing alcohol? Or is this an ill-advised shortening of ‘alcohol abuse’, in itself an odd phrase? If it is, I’d say it’s used inappropriately: drinking with friends is not equal to alcoholism.

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    1. I think it means binge drinking, which can be harmful, as opposed to just having a drink or two. I agree that “abuse alcohol” may be perceived as an inappropriate use of the phrase, but there are ways to harm oneself with alcohol without actually being alcoholic.

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  4. Sorry. I think mathematics students need to realize that nothing is more fun than mathematics. Surely, a party two or even three times a semester provides a nice break from time to time, but academics must come first if a student is at all serious.

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    1. Two or three times a semester?
      Does you honestly think that any student is going to take that advice seriously? People are people and they are going to have fun. And going out once a week does not equate to putting academics second. In fact, one must presume that by virtue of even attending university, students take academics seriously.

      I also have plenty of anecdotal evidence, I know plenty of people a few years older than me that have gone out drinking every Friday night almost without fail until exam season and have gotten straight A’s and As and Bs in their A-levels and gone on to study in prestigious, Redbrick universities. The same people didn’t exactly stop going out when they started uni, and they haven’t failed at that stage, either

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      1. “…have gotten straight A’s and As and Bs in their A-levels…”

        oops, typo there on the repeated A (Obviously) and I just couldn’t stand not pointing it out.

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  5. Some people may be just more introverted too and studying hard could just be a convenient excuse as a response to “pressure” to not go out and party, especially if there is a lot of drinking. I really never liked going to parties and tried to avoid them, but then I met some real assholes too and they were mean and irresponsible people when they drank–not fun at all. And because I experienced the party, alcohol and drug crowd prior to attending college I was quite over it and had no desire to be around it.

    Then again, everyone’s situations are different and they could be short on time, if they had/have to work as well and have other responsibilities. I was in that category.

    “It’s the kids who never partied enough in their youth who get into horrible mid-life crises in their forties and start making up for not having had any fun in their twenties.”

    In my experience it is the people who have children very young who are the one’s who feel they missed out and then start to partying, etc., and also the people who tend to go along with the crowd because they want to be accepted.

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    1. I’m autistic, so you don’t have to tell me about not wanting to be around people much. 🙂 As I said, it doesn’t matter what one’s hobby is or how solitary it might be, unwinding is crucial. One should never feel too busy to have time to indulge in their favorite relaxing pastime. It doesn’t have to do with being around others at all. Blogging, reading, playing video games, watching reruns of one’s favorite show – all these are great relaxing activities that can be done alone. Just as long as one doesn’t experience any guilt for “wasting time” on them.

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