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School, Work, and Life: How to Balance All Three During Your Time at CU

Just taking a look at your class schedule can be stressful. Then, add on a job (if you have one), and a social life. Things start looking a lot more complicated. They’re all important and balancing them is key to a successful and memorable four years at CU Boulder. So, how should you do it? 

#1 Make a Routine

When are you most efficient? 

Your class schedule is already set, but it’s the work outside of the class period that you need to focus on. It’s the time and the work outside of class that will make the difference between barely passing and acing a class. By knowing what times and in which settings you work best, you can make a routine and make the most out of each hour of the day. 

The key is the quality of your work time, not the quantity. It doesn’t matter that you sit down for three hours if you only do an hour’s worth of work. So, you need to identify when you do your best work —and it can vary for different assignments. For instance, I write best late at night, when it’s dark and quiet, but I get most of my reading done in the morning when there’s natural light and it’s quiet. Once you know, you set the time aside and stick to it. Your study time is sacred, so make sure you respect it; even if it’s just 30 minutes. 

Also, it is important to keep in mind when your assignments are due. If they’re all due on, say, Wednesday at 11 AM, then set aside time either on Monday or Tuesday during the day to get it done. My rule of thumb is: if you’re going to leave something for the last minute, let it be the finishing touches. Getting your assignments done early will help you not be stressed and have time to prioritize other aspects of your life.

#2 Make Priorities

For some, that may be putting your classes first and for others, it may be Friday nights out with friends. It can be as big as graduating on time or it can also be something as small as a weekly bubble bath. Your priorities are your own, so they only have to matter to you.

Creating priorities makes it easier to make time for certain things and they make you want to do them. If your priority is your writing workshop, then make that the first thing you get done. If your priority is your afternoon coffee with your roommate, then make time before (or after) to get your schoolwork done. Work everything else around your priorities, that way you don’t forget anything or leave anything behind. 

#3 Find Joy in Everything You Do

Make friends with your coworkers, listen to your favorite podcast between classes, study with your friends, anything that makes you feel happy. It’s the little things that make our days a little brighter. And they also help make you look forward to each day. 

We all have those days we dread. Those moments in them we could easily do without (cough, my bio class, cough cough), so let’s add something that makes them more bearable, like writing with your favorite pen or wearing your favorite outfit. 

My favorite thing is to treat myself to something sweet in between my classes. After my first class, I take a hot chocolate or a pastry. I love the bear claws from Foolish Craig’s, and they never fail to put me in a good mood. 

To get me motivated for homework, I use my favorite pens and write my notes in cursive and lots of colors. If my notes are pretty, then I’m more likely to check my notes and actually study, and just making them is fun. It’s like journaling and learning at the same time. 

In our day and age, it’s so easy to be blinded by the bigger picture —the dream job, the competitive internship, buying our dream house, etc. And that’s totally okay; be as ambitious as you want. But, let’s make everything in between today and that bigger picture just as good. 

Going to school, working, and trying to make memories is hard and can overwhelm anyone. Balancing them is not an easy feat, but it is doable. I did it last semester, and what I learned was that you have to take it one day at a time; do your best to stay on top of things, try your best, and be kind to yourself. 

Mariana Bastias

CU Boulder '25

“It takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.” -Oscar Wilde. I’m finding my place in a world that is changing faster than anyone can keep up with. Raised in Santiago, Chile, and settled in Boulder, CO, I’m an aspiring novelist with a passion for words, arts, and life’s idiosyncrasies.
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