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Survival Guide: The BC Balancing Act

My most vivid memory of the circus is the tightrope walker, gliding gracefully along the wire hundreds of feet above the ogling audience.  I could never figure out how she balanced so effortlessly while still looking beautiful and calm.  I have since learned that a sense of balance is not something saved for tightrope walkers, but is a crucial aspect of college life.  During the first few weeks of school, I always feel like I have everything under control, but once activities get into full swing, classes start handing out piles of homework, and my friends want to go out every night of the week, juggling it all becomes a challenge.  So I’ve compiled a list of things to help me (and you!) manage school work, clubs, jobs, and social life.

  1. The Rule of 8 – As my parents kissed me goodbye at the start of freshmen year, the last bit of advice they gave me was this little gem:  break each day into three eight-hour intervals.  Spend 8 hours doing class work and/or in class, 8 hours sleeping, and 8 hours on everything else.  This breakdown works really well, especially if there is a day you don’t have class.  If you can devote yourself to 8 hours of studying you’ll feel so much more prepared for a day of classes.
  2. Calendars are Essential – In middle school, I would never write down homework assignments (and if I did I would forget them), but somehow I still managed to get A’s.  However, high school taught me the value of a planner.  I now keep two:  a Google Calendar with important due dates, my class schedule, and activity schedule; and my planner with daily homework assignments and day-to-day plans.  A well-organized calendar was my savior junior year when I was overloading with six courses, and two lab credits, as well as study abroad meetings and Liturgy Arts Group.  I was completely overwhelmed until I put everything on my Google calendar, color coded by activity and importance.  Suddenly, I could see exactly which days were going to be hellish, and best of all, which ones had glorious free space.
  3. When In Doubt, Ask for an Extension – Extensions are possibly the most under-utilized gold mine of college.  Professors are flexible and realize that we have a heavy workload at BC.  So if you have three papers and a midterm all on the same day, explain the situation to your professor and ask for an extension.  You may not get one, but there’s no harm in asking and most professors appreciate a straightforward approach.
  4. Breathe, It Will All Get Done – This one is the hardest for me to remember.  I tend to stress out about homework assignments, club events, and a crammed schedule.  However, in two weeks I’ll have forgotten that weekend that I stayed in to study rather than head over to MA’s.  Having a schedule is part of what makes life interesting and gives a sense of accomplishment.  So some things may seem like the end of the world right now, but in a few weeks you’ll have something new to worry about, or better yet, no worries at all.

The start of a semester can be intimidating, especially with the amount of activities the average BC student commits to, but with a little organization, you can make balance look as effortless as gliding along a tightrope!

Allison Lantero is a recent graduate of Boston College where she graduated with honors after being "called out" by the Secretary of Transportation during commencement. She's spending her summer writing and applying to grad schools in DC for the fall. She is a frequent contributor to HerCampus as well as her school newspaper, The Heights. When she isn't writing, or playing lawyer, Allison loves travelling, especially to Venice, Italy where she studied abroad. She is looking forward to moving into an apartment in Washington and working for Ray LaHood in September.
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