Entering this fall 2022 semester as a senior, I felt like I had seen and experienced it all when it came to balancing social life with academic responsibilities. And if we’re being honest, I had come to the conclusion that achieving good grades, having a vibrant social life, and getting enough sleep was, in fact, completely unattainable.
The routine feels the same every year — my alarm clock wakes me up at 7 a.m., I get up and get ready for the day (do some homework, maybe?), head to class until 3 p.m., and go to my part-time off campus job until 8 p.m. After, I have absolutely no time to do the things that *actually* make me feel like myself — hanging out with my friends, doing some pilates, and of course, sleeping. Does that sound familiar to you? If it does, don’t worry. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80% of U.S. students report feeling stressed often. And although everyone’s priorities and responsibilities are different, we’re all looking for ways to accomplish everything we can while staying sane.
As midterm exams quickly approach, learning how to balance your social life and academic responsibilities is more important than ever. In fact, the habits you form now can help you through the rest of the year. To achieve this balance, take a look at these six tips from fellow students to get you through the midterm season.
- Go on Group Study Dates.
To achieve the perfect group study session, Maddie Lipe, 20, a junior at Appalachian State University, says group study dates are ideal for tending to your social needs, “but only if they are still being productive.” In my experience, being a part of a study group is a lot like the dating scene. Sometimes you click with your group, and sometimes you don’t. But no matter who you’re studying with, it’s important that you don’t walk away from the study session feeling like you’ve wasted several valuable hours of your time.
My advice? Start out by carefully picking your group. Choose a partner that has a similar study style as yours, whether that be in terms of energy levels, work amount, or learning methods. Trust me on this one — opposites do not attract when it comes to group study dates!
- Set Aside Time To Be Mindful.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the power of mindfulness in our lives. Practicing mindfulness can help with being in the moment, heightening your awareness, and quieting the mind so you can deal with life’s everyday stressors. However, mindfulness can take a bit of practice if you’re used to the fast-paced and extremely busy life being a college student entails. But don’t worry, to start practicing mindfulness, you just have to jump right in! Try a yoga class with friends, a group meditation session, or any kind of mild workout that calls for mindfulness. These practices will hopefully help slow your mind down and allow you to better balance your social needs and academic life.
- Know when to Say No.
Whether you’re just entering college or in your last year, saying no to friends isn’t always easy — but sometimes, it’s necessary. Think about it this way — turning down an invitation to go out can be a form of self-care, especially if you have a hard time staying focused. At the same time, you hardworking students *absolutely* deserve a night out after a long day — but as Cassie Halloran, 21, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, says, “It’s good to think of your future self in these situations.” And although Cassie struggles with saying no to friends, she considers it “more important to listen to your mind and body.” So next time you’re met with this dilemma, just ask yourself: “What would future me need?”
- Work in a Social Environment.
If you’re looking to balance your social and academic life, combine them. Working in a social environment during midterm season is the perfect option. Students Julie Lord, 20, a junior at Appalachian State University, and Sierra Davenport, 21, a senior at Elizabeth City State University, say giving themselves time to be social while also getting work done is the only way to keep themselves from stressing out. “If I focus too much on my school work I will stress myself out. Having a social life really helps. It’s all about balance and doing what’s best for you,” Julie tells Her Campus.
For Sierra, the best social settings to work in are active yet fairly quiet places. “I like to work in a social environment like a library, coffee shop, or park,” Sierra shares. So if your school’s campus is as beautiful as mine (shoutout App State), finding a nice place to study shouldn’t be a challenge. Just make sure to come prepared with your laptop charger, water bottle, and lots of snacks.
- Avoid Procrastination.
OK, besties, we know avoiding procrastination is easier said than done, but in my experience, it’s crucial to avoiding a weekly mental breakdown. McKinley Franklin, 21, a senior at East Carolina University, agrees, saying she maintains her social life while studying for midterms by “getting things done ahead of time.” She also adds that avoiding procrastination makes things especially easier for her future self. “It never hurts to start studying and preparing for a test early on,” McKinley says. So if you haven’t clicked on that class syllabus since the first day of the semester, now’s the time.
To best avoid procrastination, plan out your assignment schedule ahead of the week, and block out time to get it all done. If you need a bit more motivation, try a group study date, or ask a friend to hold you accountable for the amount of work you get done.
- Be kind To Yourself.
Lastly and most importantly, be kind to yourself during midterm season. It’s important you give yourself some grace when it comes to trying to balance your social needs and your academic responsibilities. College is stressful, and that’s OK. Your attention is constantly being pulled in a million different directions, so you may not always be able to balance everything perfectly. Just know that things will get easier as you start incorporating these habits and trusting your abilities.