College is a strange time in life for young adults. For many students, it is the first time they will navigate living away from the safety net of home and indulge in the experience of becoming a relatively independent individual in society.
Metaphorically speaking, college is a trial run of the adult world. However, the experience isn't necessarily always easy. Students quickly learn the stressfulness of time management, hard work and financial decisions. Friendships, family, advisors and mentors are all an important part of our transitional journey, yet, they aren't always reliable or fully alleviate our stressors.
In a survey of students who own pets in college, 90% of respondents said that their pets helped them feel less stressed and anxious. In a study of over 1,000 colleges and their policies on pets, only 4% allow pets. However, this number is beginning to increase as the benefits of pet ownership in college become more apparent.
Ohio University currently does not allow animals on campus unless it is a service or support animals. Still, many off-campus housing options, such as Riverpark/Rivergate, are pet friendly and allow students to house pets.
The CDC states that owning pets can largely impact physical and mental health and increase physical activity and socialization opportunities. Many of these benefits can combat the issues that college students face daily.
Over 63% of college students in the U.S. felt overwhelming amounts of anxiety in a 2018 college health assessment. Similarly, researchers found that 40-50% of college students are physically inactive.
A study revealed that 92% of college freshmen and sophomores believe interaction with a pet would help reduce their stress levels and improve mental health. Another survey revealed that 41% of participants stated that they are more active due to their pet ownership.
College students who own pets can also experience academic benefits. Studies show that owning a dog can increase academic success by creating a relaxing environment for students to work harder and take necessary breaks. The reduction in stress and released endorphins that come with dog animal ownership have been proven to increase test scores.
In addition to boosting physical and mental health, pets can also play an important role in teaching responsibility. Owning pets requires a lot of personal responsibility in the management of time and finances, as well as providing the necessary care with respect to the type of pet owned. Although the burden of responsibility can be a lot to bear, it is a positive way to increase maturity and prepare for life after college.
This is absolutely not to say that every student should own a pet in college. Owning a pet can be incredibly difficult, and the expenses can add up quickly. The quality of life of an animal is of utmost importance, and students should be able to provide the necessary care, environment and tools to maintain this. Before getting a pet, students should go through a checklist to ensure it is the right decision.
There are also various animals that make great pets while also fitting into various schedules and lifestyles. For example, a dog might be the best option for a student with a lot of free time and energy, while a cat, fish, or small mammal might be the best option for a student with a busier schedule. Most of these animals are independent and do not require as much attention or resources as dogs.
No matter which pet is chosen, if a student properly goes through the steps and research to make sure pet ownership is a viable opinion, the benefits can be overwhelming.
Katie Trott is a senior studying creative writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Katie by emailing her at email@example.com.