We all know that on a Friday night there is nothing else we’d rather be doing than hanging out with friends, hitting up that house party, or swinging by the local bars. Unfortunately, the duties of a college student often beckon, and you’re left at home studying for that test, finishing that paper, or wrangling your classmates to complete that dreaded group project. Balancing the fun of parties with the necessity of classwork can be hard. With the threat of academic probation and loss of scholarships, too much partying can put a premature end to the college experience altogether. Even if your definition of fun isn’t crowding into a dirty college house to drink lukewarm beers on a Saturday night, it is still important to balance homework and socializing.
One way to guarantee that you are living your best college life is pretty simple: just say no. Your friends (if they’re real friends) will 100% understand if you cannot go out every week. They should want you to succeed! During my freshman year, I did not want to miss out on anything, so I went to every single party, social gathering or event my friends went to…then I would stay up all night studying to make up for it. I barely slept and looking back was, I honestly miserable. FOMO is totally real, but you’ll have an even bigger FOMO when you see your classmates well-rested on Monday morning, turning in papers they did not write in one night. Amy Lenhart, the president of the American College Counseling Association, suggests that it is crucial for students to “make study time non-negotiable.”
Another way to ensure success is to use what you already have. Every professor has a syllabus, you probably already have a planner, and chances are you have a phone. At the beginning of every semester, I write in my planner everything due, so I don’t have any surprises. That way I am not doing my term paper the same day of the fraternity date party. Then, I make a weekly to-do list in my phone of everything that needs to get done. Planning ahead is key to making sure you don’t fall behind. Lenhart, who is also a college counselor at Collin College, further recommends students make a weekly chart for studying and assignments.
A great way to make sure you stay on top of everything is to do everything. Alex McCormick, the director of the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Associate Professor of Educational Leading and Policy Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, discusses that the busiest students often have the best grades. The theory here is that busy students know they cannot fall behind without immediately drowning in work, so they develop their own techniques to stay on top of their lives. While this may sound a little improbable, it makes sense—you may have a hard time managing assignments when it seems like you have all the time in the world. Of course, this may not work for every student, but getting involved outside of the classroom and the bar scene may make it easier to get out.