Upon starting school, you may have gotten your class list, then made a schedule to correspond when you’ll study, go to the gym and still factored in time to hang out with friends. Then week two hits and that entire plan goes to shit. If this has happened to you, I can guarantee that you are not alone.
The stress that we university students face as we balance an academic platform for our future careers while immersing ourselves in the full college social experience is kind of crazy. Either you feel like the student who is too busy studying to have any friends or the student that has too many friends and can’t study.
As someone who has been in the university circuit for a while and has had many failed schedules of her own, I believe that there really is a way to achieve at least some balance. There are three methods that will help ensure that, come graduation time, you aren’t bathing in a pool of your own tears.
First of all, do work when you’re supposed to be doing work. This is a simple concept that many find terribly confusing.
The two worst feelings are when you’re studying and you want to be out having fun, followed by when you’re out having fun knowing you should be studying. The simple solution is to untangle the two and keep them separate.
I don’t know each and every one of you but I’m going to assume that whenever you have spare time you don’t enthusiastically whip out your textbooks or required readings. If you know that come 6 p.m. you and your friends are hanging out then just plan ahead to do your work before going out.
Everyone studies differently but, however you hit the books, do so without distractions. Keep in mind that in a couple hours you can watch random Youtube videos, troll people on Facebook and do all sorts of fun stuff with your friends.
In turn, don’t be that asshole that brings notes to the bar when everyone is out having fun. If you really need to study, go home and do it. Don’t guilt trip all your friends as well as not pay any attention to them. Use social time to be social and reward yourself for all the work that you finished.
Secondly, don’t be a people pleaser but don’t lie to yourself. There will be times where your friends want to hang and you know you’ve got work to do.
Don’t be afraid of telling them you can’t go out and if they can’t understand then they aren’t your friends. But if you have friends like I do — and I love them to bits — they will sometimes try to coerce you into hanging out anyway. If they are truly your friends then they will still appreciate you even when you politely turn them down.
There is a catch though. Don’t blow your friends off for the sake of studying if you know you’re most likely going to be on Netflix or Facebook for the next four hours. Now I know that sometimes we can’t help it if our mind strays but think of all the fun you missed out on because you told yourself you’d finish half of an essay you needed to write.
This all goes back to prioritizing your time. You’re better off saying you’ll get a quarter of your work done and hang out with friends than staring at a blank page for hours and still call it “studying.”
Lastly, always remember that there will never be a perfect balance and that this is okay. You’re not a rockstar with a personal trainer or life coach to keep you on task all the time.
The best way to not stress yourself about losing either your social or academic lives is by understanding that sometimes shit happens and you have to learn to cope.
You might miss the party of the year because you had midterms coming up. However, you might get a terrible grade on that essay because you spent a lot of time with your significant other. None of these makes you an idiot or a social leper.
It’s very important to remember the reason why you came to university, or even re-evaluate why exactly you are here. For some people it’s all about the university experience, and for some it is all about getting that diploma.
Balancing a social life and academic success doesn’t always have to be a battle, but rather a compromise — as long as you are okay with the consequences your choices may have.
If you truly want to put your heart and soul into school and getting a career, you need to be okay with the memories you’ll have — which might be having your eyes locked on your books the whole time.
Embracing the university culture and living it to its fullest with friends is great, but even if you manage to stay in the comfort of these stone walls forever, your friends won’t. You don’t want to be that person that can only reminisce because they don’t have anything left to look forward to.
Graphic: Stephanie Mah