#TheStruggleIsReal: School/Life Balance

“The struggle is real” is a common hashtag used all over the internet, in strings of text messages as well as in memes. Now it is becoming an everyday phrase used by college students to describe both minute and serious challenges that they are faced with. This segment is for Montclair State Collegiettes to share what they have experienced as undergraduates thus far.

Attending a college or university is a significant, albeit intimidating, step to take in one's life. As a freshman entering your first year or a veteran student hoping to become more involved, it seems easy to jump right in. Before the semester even starts, you find that your class schedule is spread out perfectly with extra time to sign up for every club that fuels your fire. Once you get into the swing of things though, that can-do spirit and feeling of excitement changes.

Your class work begins to take up your free time, you squeeze in clubs and on campus activities when you can and you end up having to choose your studies over nights out with friends or even opting to skip out on lunch dates here and there.

Half your professors tell you that you need to spend two hours studying and doing homework outside of the classroom for each hour you are actually in class. You feel as if there is no happy medium as you are faced with the difficult decision of assignments vs living your best life. It doesn’t have to be that way but unfortunately it is for some of the students here at MSU and colleges all over the country. Balancing school and life can be a real struggle for your physical and mental health, but we all manage it in the best ways we can.

While Montclair State University sophomore Tatiana Ricks believes that Montclair state allows students to have a balance in their schedules she still struggles to find her footing.

“Last year I was constantly studying and in between classes, unable to recognize that I was draining myself with piled up work,” Ricks said.

Ricks understands the importance of identifying when you are spreading yourself too thin and making a change for the better. She wants students to know that if you are feeling stressed, to try and give yourself a few days to relax, stay in, watch tv, drink coffee and write.

On the other hand, MSU junior Corrine Appel feels as if Montclair State doesn’t allow students to balance school and life.

“I’ve had to have back to back classes because of what was offered and have no lunch time, no time to relax just go straight to work. Overall, it’s tough for students who really have to work not because they want to,” said Appel.

For majors with less populations of students, there could be a limiting amount of class times to choose from. There are classes with at the very most two to three sections to choose from which can really mess up a student’s schedule or prevent them from taking the quintessential courses at all, sometimes delaying their graduations. This is especially true for pre-requisite courses of majors and minors.

It seems that a lot of students have their own ways to cope with the school/life balance. “When it comes to assignments, I like to manage my time by starting assignments fairly early that way I'm not rushing last minute. When it comes to socializing, I like to make sure I give myself breaks that way I'm dividing my time equally and not over-doing it,” said MSU sophomore Alexa Rae Rivera.

As people in general, we should strive for greatness but ultimately take care of our heads and our hearts first. School is very important but so is balancing everything out. Take your struggle now as a learning experience and let yourself have some free time throughout the week, get homework done in between classes and before bed so you can let loose all weekend or in the spare time that you make for yourself. We can’t hate on the professors for doing their jobs and giving us work or the school for doing their best, but we can learn to manage our time better and reach out to our major/minor departments to make progressive changes in the future.

When asked about her overall experience at MSU, sophomore Hope Ortiz said, “It has been positive. I think Montclair does it's best to always be an upbeat campus, especially with all of the events and programs they have. Although it's mainly a commuter school, it never seems to be boring. Montclair encourages students to get involved and provides many opportunities to do so. I think that's one of the best things about MSU. The only negative thing about MSU or college in general, is the adjustment since college is pretty intense and stressful.”

Sometimes Ortiz has a hard time balancing school and life, “My first year of college, it was a huge transition and quite overwhelming because I never realized how much I truly need to balance. Also, I feel like there is this overwhelming expectation of having to be able to balance your social life, work life, eating, sleeping, etc. —  on top of life at school and campus.”

Ortiz uses a planner religiously because she prefers to keep everything organized from assignment due dates to other on campus clubs and activities. She tends to start her homework the day that it is assigned or put bigger assignments for her English major courses ahead of less time-consuming ones.

MSU sophomore Zoe Nolz emphasized a planner is essential. “I just want to remind everyone [of] how important it is to prioritize,” she said. “The work is going to get hard, and there really aren't any shortcuts, you just have to do it all.”