The NOLS Blog

Why Getting Outside Is Good for Students

Posted by Molly Herber on 12/4/15 3:35 PM

From preschool to graduate school, getting outside is an important and fun part of any student’s life. Here are just a few reasons why:

Relieve stress

Relieve Stress Photo by Stephane Terrier.

Keeping up with assignments, studying for tests, and writing papers are stressful. Getting into the outdoors, even for just a short walk, is a great way to help your mind take a break from the deadlines and outlines.

Gain experience making real decisions

Practicing Decision-making Photo by Tracy Baynes.

In school, getting a C on a paper is no fun, but it’s not a consequence that directly affects your health and well-being (most of the time). When you’re camping, on the other hand, making a decision about whether to go over the ridge or through the marsh will have an impact on you and your group, for better or worse. Spending time in the outdoors gives you a chance to build on experiencing direct feedback on your decisions, which will help you make decisions in the frontcountry, like choosing your college or career.

Get off the grid

Savoring the Wilderness Photo by Cass Colman.

Cell phones are awesome and the Internet is a powerful tool, but spending time away from glowing screens and instant access to information helps you appreciate the world in which you make your home. You'll also develop a different type of knowledge from interacting with that world than you would normally get in school.

Develop non-academic strengths

Learning new skills. Photo by Becca Parkinson.

Traditional schools train students to accomplish tasks within a particular scope. While these academic skills are important, it’s also important to stretch yourself and try out different ways of learning. Trying new things will help develop both your creativity and self-awareness of your strengths and areas to grow.

Build friendships and learn to work in a team

Enjoying Success as a Team Photo by Rachel Gold.

Many outdoor activities are done with partners or groups, and require you to rely on other people for both safety and fun. Being able to share a common goal and work through challenges together, whether it’s hiking a mile uphill or paddling the Amazon, builds relationships that can grow into lifelong friendships.

Take your learning outdoors a gap year with NOLS. Download our free gap year guide here.


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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, climbing, Backpacking, adventure, education, backcountry, leadership