Fall: America’s best study season

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By Julio Cesar

Fall: America’s favorite season. Leaves falling from trees and new coffee blends are just some of the features that make this time of the year so famous.

But as current college students with mid-terms ahead, the only fall that matters is the potential fall in our GPAs. Don’t worry, this can be indeed a troublesome season for many students, and if you sometimes feel that you have too much to do or are somewhat stressed, I have some advice: Take a breath and spend some time at the Quad.

Many people may see just relaxing on the Quad as “unpleasant” for a variety of reasons. Grass, dirt and background noise don’t always sound like a good combination for a study or rest environment at first glance.

For those who are advocates of silence and comfort in the workplace, however, I must say that studying outside can be not only productive, but also bring many benefits for your health and academic performance.

As we all know, spending some time outdoors is an old recommendation from our doctors, health specialists and parents, on par with eating an apple a day.

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    And far from medical folklore, it actually has a very strong scientific basis: Exposure to sunlight and the outdoors is linked to benefits ranging from the prevention of myopia and depression to improvements in sleep quality.

    In a more recent field of study, there are many discoveries that show great improvements in productivity and skills of students who have outdoors learning habits.

    As shown by a paper from University of Toronto, outdoor environments can improve cognitive learning. Students inserted in a outside-classroom learning program had better results when compared to students who had their studies indoors. It is also known that this practice can decrease stress levels and even contribute to a better memory. With so many proven benefits, spending some time lounging under a tree after classes is definitely worth a try.

    For those who are still concerned about the grass, dirt and noise at this point, you will be glad to know that these features aren’t as bothersome as they seem when you get used to them.

    The benefits of outdoor learning are being praised by many education specialists as the “new revolution” in education. From kindergarten to college, more and more course proposals try to include outside-classroom activities and even entire classes held outdoors are met with very positive feedback.

    Some colleges even have centers to help professors and everyone interested in bringing this concept to their subjects.

    As highlighted by the Teaching Outside Classroom guide from Vanderbilt University, “field experiences early in a student’s career can be formative and can inspire students to continue in a field.” Illinois also has on-campus initiatives.

    Architecture for example has many activities on the campus quads and public spaces, mostly related to sketch practices. Further, many majors have related clubs and initiatives that seek achieving experiences and improving skills through activities and practices outdoors.

    Our university by itself is a remarkably good place to give a chance to outside-desk study habits, and offers all kinds of parks and open spaces. The Illini Grove and the less known Arboretum next to the Florida Avenue Residence Hall are places that should be visited more often by students, certainly if you’re looking for a new study spot. But if you’re still convinced to stay attached to your chair and procrastinate enjoying this fall season “later,” I warn: Winter is coming! As the days get shorter and shorter, soon everyone will have plenty of time to stay indoors. Enjoy the last weeks of warm weather and try to use them in the best way possible, you surely will miss them.

    Julio is a freshman in Engineering.
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