Just Say No: How to Manage Family in College

I never wanted to be one of those college students shuffling between family and school. I thought it was strange how some students went to college in their hometowns and dealt with being around family while managing classes, homework and their college social life. Fast forward to now, and I’m one of them.

My family often forgets that I’m a full-time student, and their schedule does not line up with mine. They have family dinners, community events, babysitting and simple errands that they often ask me to take care of. I have homework, exams, projects and a social life. Those rarely align and more often clash. But the challenge arises while trying to manage both. For those of you who are dealing with the same task, I am with you. I’ve compiled a few things I’ve learned in my time as a shuffling student, and I hope they can help you deal with this too.

With finals coming up, and Thanksgiving just around the corner, family-time seems to be at its peak. I’m already preparing for planning the Thanksgiving cooking schedule, picking people up from the airport and being utterly distracted all week to the point where schoolwork isn’t even an option. I know this will happen. So the important part is to plan for it. I’m working harder right now to get assignments out of the way so that when Thanksgiving week (because let’s admit, it’s not just Thursday, it takes over the whole week) comes around, I can put my books down and pick up the carving knife. 

Even in times when finals are not looming, and family is not overwhelming, it can still be daunting trying to manage school and home life. Those days when you have your nightly course reading, a party on campus and a cousin in need of babysitting, just think of which you’ll enjoy most. I generally think of the party because we're in college after all! But it’s important to understand that sometimes you actually prefer the babysitting, or even reading (which always turns into Netflix), and that’s really okay. You have every right to say no and do what you want. 

On that note, sometimes you have to tell your family no. It’s real and exhausting when so many obligations run into each other. In those times, I say no. When I have three exams and a project due in one week, I merely tell my entire family, “Don’t expect me to be around for at least one week. Please don’t ask me to be anywhere or do anything because I need to focus on school.” Luckily, they’re family, which means they’re permanent. So while they might not enjoy being told no, they will still be there when you come out of your hell week and can say yes to requests again.