A Guide to Balancing Clubs and School Freshman Year

One of my greatest excitements when coming to college was joining clubs. My single biggest regret in highschool was the failure to push myself outside of my comfort zone and immerse myself in a variety of clubs–in retrospect, I really did not maximize my high school experience to its truest potential. College, naturally, was a way for me to redeem myself. I think I speak for everyone when I say every freshman came to college wanting an unforgettable college experience. In this regard, I went to club fair on steroids (just kidding) and–believe it or not–joined seventeen different clubs. Of course, after attending nearly all of their preliminary information meetings, I was able to weed out more than seventy percent of them and have since been actively participating in five clubs on campus! 

Indisputably, there are days when I feel like I don’t have enough time and balancing academics and club activities is one of the toughest challenges of the college lifestyle. With respect to that, understanding how to balance school and extracurriculars is extremely important. Read on for tips from a self-claimed “successful” first semester college student on how to balance academics and clubs!

  1. 1. Prioritize

    Set. Your. Priorities. Straight. Sure, it’s important to attend club meetings, but academics always take first priority. If you have a midterm the next day, please please please don’t commit to three hours of volunteering for a club event; there will definitely be many more opportunities in the future for you to participate. Freshman year is all about adjustment, but if you are not distributing your time efficiently between clubs and school, it may prolong your adjustment period. You should realize that some clubs are definitely time-suckers, so learn to also prioritize clubs you’ll truly be devoted to and grow from there. It’s smarter to stick to a few clubs that you’ll excel in than to be lousily involved in many because you simply will not have time to balance. 

  2. 2. Use Google Calendar

    It’s about time you met Google Calendar. I hadn’t discovered Google Calendar until I came to college, and I am never going back. If you’re like me and have the memory of a goldfish, Google Calendar will have your back and make sure you have all your events and tasks in check. Google Calendar is simple, convenient, orderly–the list goes on. Simply select a date and time interval, choose whether the activity is an event, task, or reminder, and there you have it, a nice and neat personalized schedule. Trust me when I say Google Calendar will make your life so much easier, omg. 

  3. 3. Write “To-Do” Lists

    I have so much respect for people who can stay on top of things without writing a daily “to-do” list. Personally, I cannot stay organized unless I plan out my day by the hour. I start my day by writing down a list of things I want to accomplish in a day. Key word: want. Usually, I only check off two-thirds of the items I wrote down, but it’s okay--simply setting daily goals and tasks to accomplish (and checking them off) gives me so much more satisfaction and helps me guarantee my productivity each day. 

  4. 4. Communicate

    Whether it’s to a professor, peer, or president of a club, communication is key to balancing clubs and school. See tip #1 and know how to prioritize what’s important! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you can’t attend a meeting or can’t finish something on time just because you have other commitments, such as school work. Effective communication is not only essential to fostering healthy relationships but also in maintaining a healthy balance between club activities and school work.

  5. 5. Schedule breaks and recharge

    Don’t forget to factor in time to take breaks, chill with friends, and recharge (check out my article on productivity)! Although making sure every moment of free time counts is a valid criterion, you should keep in mind that we aren’t cyborgs! We need time to focus on ourselves and find our zen…

It’s easy to get tangled in a tough schedule, so knowing methods to help you balance your time is inextricably linked to maintaining a happy lifestyle. Hopefully these tips will help pave your way to juggling clubs and school just as it has helped me!