OPINION | Why college students need the arts 

Be honest. How many times have you ignored the art and literature section in one of your textbooks, absentmindedly deleted an email about an upcoming Ent Center show or realized an art installation on campus exists that has been there for years?  

Unfortunately, I do all of these things at least once a month during the academic year. As students, we are so focused on one area of study and aspect of life that we forget about everything else, like supporting and engaging with the arts. 

College students need to have the arts in their lives in some form for their own academic and psychological benefit. This time is about exploring different perspectives and gaining valuable skills within a wide range of subjects, and art offers students many chances to do so.  

In a recent study featured in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education, medical students took part in an eight-week multimedia art class.  

The researchers found that the class helped those students better consider the perspectives of others, which is a skill they could apply in their understanding of and communication with patients. They also learned how to make quick and unaided decisions, which is crucial in their field. 

Every time I attend a local performance, take an art class or watch a video on a new creative technique, I feel like my perspective on those interests shifts significantly. I gain new skills, sets of views and knowledge that I can effectively draw on during class discussions, essay writing sessions or casual conversations with my peers. 

While the arts can provide opportunities for deep academic-focused discussion, sometimes we just want to find an escape from all of the stressful conversations that come with being a college student. Art has the ability to give us that relief.  

According to a podcast from the American Medical Association, finding ways to get involved in the arts can reduce stress by lowering our cortisol levels, which is the hormone that creates the emotional reactions we have in stressful situations. 

One of the main reasons I am involved in the arts is because of the stress relief and escape from my academic routine they provide. When I can fully immerse myself in the atmosphere of a concert or complete a new entry in my sketchbook, everything stressful becomes insignificant for a moment. 

College campuses make it especially easy for students to engage with the arts, and UCCS is no exception.  

Students are invited to attend art-focused club meetings, shows and sponsored events across campus all the time. Organizations like the Art Cubby allow students to donate and take art supplies for free, which can help lower the amount they spend on materials for their art classes. 

The Ent Center offers students almost daily opportunities to view exhibitions, take part in workshops and support their peers and other groups by attending performances. Many of these events are free or discounted for students, making them even more accessible. 

I appreciate having such easy access to art-related opportunities. Last week, I took part in an interpretive dance workshop at the Ent Center because I wanted to try something new and potentially fun. I wouldn’t have had the chance to do something like that if it wasn’t so affordable and convenient. 

I was putting most of my concentration into my academic work at the beginning of the semester. Despite being in an art-related class, I wasn’t working on any personal art projects, which made me realize just how important art is in my busy life.  

College students need to take time to challenge our perspectives, prioritize our mental health and reduce our stress, and I can think of no better way to do that than getting involved in the arts. 

Osborne Theater at the Ent Center on campus. Photo by Kira Thorne.