By Barbara Feldman
“To keep the body in good health is a duty … otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha
It seems so obvious that good learning would require good health. Yet, college students (and faculty and staff) often ignore their health in the name of learning. By health, I refer to physical, mental, and emotional health. Our physical health suffers when we fail to make time for physical exercise, adequate sleep, or healthy food choices, etc. Our mental and emotional health suffers when we procrastinate, discount mounting stress or anxiety or depression and fail to prioritize downtime and restorative activities. We often compound matters by overusing caffeine, alcohol, junk food or other substances.
New College of Florida provides an environment and resources to encourage our campus community to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Our Counseling and Wellness Center is staffed by professionals equipped to work with the entire NCF community to address individual needs and create personalized wellness plans. Students, faculty and staff can work out at our fitness center, swim in our pool, and play tennis on our outdoor court. We also field a recreational softball team that plays in a local league here in Sarasota during the summer.
During the school year, students can join a variety of sports and recreational clubs, including sailing, powerlifting, swimming, rock climbing, scuba diving, basketball, soccer, beach volleyball and flag football. They can also participate in yoga classes and guided meditation. Our students’ interest in healthy living is also apparent in the rapid growth of two of our residential living-learning communities: Outdoor Adventure, and Health and Wellness.
Recognizing that college can be hectic and stressful at times, we offer workshops on time management and positive study habits, as well as providing peer tutors and coaches to help students study and prioritize assignments. We are committed to providing healthy meal options that can be tailored to individual dietary needs.
We also care for each other. Our faculty and staff look out for students and watch for early signs of stress. Faculty follow up with students who miss classes or assignments. Staff, particularly residential staff, know students well and pay attention to what is happening with them, particularly if they are showing indicators of stress, anxiety, depression or illness. Our RAs and Counseling & Wellness Center staff also encourage students to look out for one another. If their friends or classmates are struggling, we want to provide resources and offer support to help them get back on track.
At New College we consider wellness holistically. We think in terms of physical health, mental and emotional health, academic health, financial health and healthy interpersonal interactions. These aspects of one’s well-being are interconnected. Just as we aspire to have our students leave New College academically prepared for further education or a career, we also aspire to prepare our students with the skills to take care of themselves throughout their lives so that they may continue to achieve their dreams, be happy and healthy. It is why and how New College educate students for lives of great achievement.
— Barbara Feldman is the Provost of New College of Florida.