Throughout their time at Wellesley, students are required to complete eight PE credits total. They have no effect on students’ grade point averages; rather, this requirement is a graduation checkpoint. PE credits may be accumulated through club sports, varsity sports or more commonly, PE classes. The Physical Education requirement enforced by Wellesley College has always been a controversial one; several students believe that it contributes to the overall wellness of the student body, while others see it as something that consumes one of their valuable class slots.
The College’s athletics website has stated its mission to engage “students through instructional classes in diverse physical activities to develop skills and knowledge on the importance of regular physical activity that leads to a healthy lifestyle.” Many students agree with The College, viewing the two-semester commitment as a source of disciplined exercise. To them, PE classes are genuinely fun and also allow for a break from rigorous academics. “I think PE classes serve as a nice way to take a break from classes and get your blood pumping,” says Julie Lely `23. “I enjoy how many options we have and the instructor of my Zumba class; both make it more enjoyable to exercise,” comments Katie Shaw `23. From Taekwondo to swimming, The College offers more than 50 options to fulfill this requirement, having many of the same options as a regular gym. “I think they’re an interesting chance to try a form of exercise you’d otherwise have to pay for a class in,” says Martha Dameron `23. Furthermore, the classes bring students together in a different setting, rather than the traditional academic ones where they normally interact. Erin Olson `23 states, “I think they’re a really great opportunity for students to practice creating a healthy lifestyle in a relatively low-commitment environment within a group!”
However, other students are far less than satisfied with the fact that this requirement is imposed upon the entire student body. Many students choose to follow their own fitness routines or have little time to go to strictly enforced class schedules. “For me they just take up unnecessary time because I already have a strong workout routine I follow on my own,” Andreea Sabau `23 says. Furthermore, the fact that the majority of the classes enforce the fact that students can only miss three days a semester often adds on to the difficulties of stressed and exhausted students, especially during the times of finals or on days when they have too many commitments. “I took Advanced Yoga my first semester. To be honest, I really enjoyed practicing yoga. However, for me it was just scheduled at a really inconvenient time,” Sabau `23 continued. “Because it was my fourth class of the day, I came in all stressed and felt like I wasn’t reaping the benefits of the class. The fact that it took up even more time on those already busy days just stressed me out more. And now I’m postponing my second gym class that I have to take because I just don’t want to feel like I’m basically taking a fifth class.” Because the College recommends that students finish their PE requirement by “the end of the sophomore year,”students are forced to feel the burden and the commitment required by a fifth class.
While the College may be attempting to keep its student body fit and healthy, the opinions on the matter of PE credits vary from student to student.