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Four Tips to Help You Master the College Balancing Act

There’s no more free food on the quad every day.  You already signed up for every club known to man (or none at all) and spent your life savings at the oh-so-reasonable AU Bookstore.  You’ve waited in the LA quad for hours to be piled into a frat boy’s sedan, and you’ve experienced all the awesomeness that Welcome Week has to offer. So now what?

Between the hundreds of clubs on campus, the hundreds of internships awaiting us in the fabulous District of Columbia, and, unfortunately, the hundreds of pages we have to read for our classes, it’s hard not to be one hundred percent overwhelmed.  

Here are some tips to help you gain equilibrium in the college balancing act:

1. Make a new BFF—with your class syllabus.

Your professors give you all the assignments and important dates for the semester on the first day of class.   It almost seems like cheating.  Syllabi, although a very weird plural word, are the holy grails of your academic life.  I may be nerd captain of the world, but getting ahead on your work when you have the chance will save you many emotional breakdowns in the long run. 

2.  Get involved—with a purpose.

How many times have you heard “get involved?”  If you went to any sort of orientation they probably literally killed this expression, but it’s true.  However, you have to remember to not go crazy.  Being at American and in DC, we have so many opportunities, it almost makes you dizzy.  It’s important to hone in on what you’re actually passionate about instead of doing everything just to say you “do everything”.  Try some things on for size and once you discover what you love being involved in, those 8pm meetings on Tuesday nights will be worth missing Glee for.  (Don’t worry, that’s why Hulu was invented).

3.  Avoid stress-related breakdowns—exercise! 

As Elle Woods, the Sandra Day O’Connor of our youth, once said, “Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”  Although this may be a bit dramatic, it is true.  Some type of physical activity is not only essential to your physical health, but will keep you sane in your chaotic life.  If going to the gym just isn’t your thing, try something different!  There are so many opportunities to stay active these days; between yoga, Zumba or picking up a new sport like tennis, working out doesn’t have to be something to avoid every day.  Even something as simple as walking to the metro, instead of waiting around for decades for the shuttle to arrive, will give you that little boost of energy you might need to make it through your day…and avoid those lovely stress-induced emotional breakdowns we all know too well.    

4.  Being an overachiever is not worth losing your social life for.

After studying in Spain last semester, if I learned anything at all it was to appreciate my social life.  The Spaniards have one of the longest life expectancies and I honestly think that’s due to their stress-free lifestyle, seeing as the amount of sangria and tapas consumed could definitely not be good for one’s health.  It was amazing going out at midnight and seeing everyone, from young people, to parents, to 80 year olds out in the cafes and bars just chatting about their days.  The Spaniards have truly mastered the extremely clichéd “work hard, play hard” principle. 

Hanging out with your friends, going out, and just plain having fun probably shouldn’t define your entire college career but it should be a significant part of your life.  It’s so important to ensure your friends don’t get the boot when life starts getting crazy because that internship, homework assignment, or leadership activity is only for a few months but they are there forever…just like Vitamin C once said.   

So cheers to the start of yet another amazing semester at American University.  We’ve all already survived Welcome Week, a hurricane, and an earthquake so I think we’re ready for anything.  Achieving the perfect balance in one’s college career may be nearly impossible, but hopefully these tips make this feat seem obtainable.  Befriending your syllabi, getting involved, staying active, and making room for your BFFs will help you stay sane in your crazy life…If only there were 30 hours in a day, right?

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