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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

And just like that, I am in the midst of my senior year of college. 

An unfathomable reality that is now seemingly thrust upon me. If you asked how I got here, I wouldn’t even be able to respond because frankly, I’m not too sure either. It’s been a crazy three years, no doubt about that. But it’s also been three years of missed experiences and opportunities.

As a pre-med student, I’ve had a specific mindset since my first day of freshman year. It was always about the grade. It was staying late in the Pius library, creating endless amounts of study guides, spending my Saturdays doing homework and saying no to a lot of things. Saying no to the basketball game because I had an exam the next week. No to the party because I had too much homework to do. No to dinner because I was too stressed and needed to be alone. Three years of focusing too much on my grades and too little on my life. I couldn’t find the right balance to manage everything, and it left me hopelessly lost at times. Now in my senior year, I’m finally seeing just how much I’m going to miss if I continue living life like this.

This is my last year to make something out of college. Something more than just my grades or check marks on my resume. This is the last year to make the kinds of crazy college memories that I can look back at and laugh. I don’t want to waste this time any longer. This is the year that I truly find that school-life balance that I’ve been ignoring for far too long. 

Here are some things that I am going to try and do differently this last year.

Working on my homework throughout the day

This semester I’m lucky enough to have breaks between my classes. Normally, I’d use these breaks to peruse on my phone or go back to my bedroom and take a nap. This year, I’m using these breaks to get ahead of things. Budgeting time to do little parts of homework assignments or flip through flashcards will leave me with more time in my evenings. I’m taking better control of my time during the day.

Getting started on projects early

By getting started on my projects earlier and working on them little by little, I will prevent the stress of having a million things to do at once. When I save projects or papers until the last minute, I end up spending unseemly hours in the library alone cramming to finish it. That is exactly the type of experience that I am looking to avoid this year. Doing just a little bit everyday may be just the thing to save me.

Leaving one weekend day open

Freshman year me would’ve cried at this suggestion. Spending a day doing no schoolwork? Seems almost impossible. But it’s important for me to step away from the stresses of class and step back into the real world. Spending a day doing no school work allows me to get out into the community and do the things that I’ve missed out on. It also forces me to spend my time more productively during the week so that this day off doesn’t cause me to fall behind.

Making a bucket list of STL activities

This idea is inspired from one of my roommates, but it’s an absolutely great one. St. Louis has so many great activities and events throughout the year. I’ve missed many of these events because I didn’t even know they existed, and by the time I did know I was already drowning in too much work and stress. This year my roommates and I have created a list of the places we want to go, the food we want to try and the events we want to participate in. Some things I’ve already been able to check off my list are the Tower Grove Farmers Market and the Great Forest Park Balloon Race. Some other things I’m excited to do this year are picnic at the Gateway Arch, go apple picking at Eckert’s Farm and explore the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Saying “Yes” to what I can

I’ve always been someone quick to say no because of anxiety or stress. But this year is the year of the mindset change. It is the year of knowing that I am going to be okay in the end. It is the year to take the risk and say yes when I want to. Maybe I won’t be able to study as much as I had thought I needed to, but I will be all right. I won’t regret the hours I didn’t study, but I will regret the great experiences that I missed.

I’m not perfect, and that’s exactly what college is about. When we all look back on it, it isn’t going to matter what our grade was on the organic chemistry exam or how many hours we spent studying. What’s going to matter is how and who we chose to spend our time with. I want to look back at college and goofily grin at what I got to do. So, let’s all start living that college life we deserve and find that schoollife balance.

A lover of donuts, cheesy rom-coms, warm blankets, and the Chicago Cubs