10 Ways to Make the Most out of College Without Spreading Yourself Too Thin

The “college experience” is something that holds a different meaning for everyone. Some are fulfilled simply by going to classes, some need social interaction 24/7, and most fall somewhere in the middle. While it is easy to get caught up in all that a large university has to offer, it is important to think critically about what involvement means to you and how you can best utilize your talents, skills, and interests around college. These are some ways that I’ve found allow me to make the most out of my time at the University of Utah, while still giving me enough time and energy to do everything I need to.

1. School comes first, but don’t forget that social relationships can be just as important

When I first began as an out of state student on scholarship at a school the entire way across the country, I was pretty much concerned with school and only school. It took me, a usually outgoing and carefree person, until the second half of the first semester to realize that I needed to actually interact with people other than my roommates. While in this process of realization, it got to the point where I was ready to transfer to a school closer to home. But, I stuck things out and – while it may not always be the best for everyone – I’m glad that I did.

2. Don’t avoid joining things because it’s not the beginning of the semester/year

Occasionally, certain groups and activities will have time frames that you just cannot work around. But most times, you can email the person in charge and they will be more than happy to have you join their group. The biggest thing is to not get in your own head about being “late to the game,” which is completely irrelevant.

3. Understand your personality

Different people will enjoy different levels of involvement, but in order to know how much you want to be involved in, you have to take a certain amount of time for self-reflection. If you know you don’t want to be involved in a lot, focus on the areas that most interest you or will go to help you in your future endeavors. At the same time, understand that activities can be an important social outlet and not simply a way to polish your resume.

4. Always brace for the worst when thinking about how much you can handle at once

Schools love to advertise the vast number of clubs they have during tours and orientations. But realistically, if you’re formatting things to the exact minute in a perfect week, you’ll be screwed once you get handed a week where you are slammed with schoolwork, work, and/or lots of time investment for activities. Evaluating your mental health is also extremely important when considering these things. For example, if you know you have severe test anxiety, think critically about how this will affect your involvement during a week of exams.

5. Don’t forget about the small parts of your day that actually require time

While they may seem small or easily forgettable, activities such as eating, taking a shower, or getting from place to place can make a huge difference in how you plan your schedule.

6. Only involve yourself in one activity where the requirements are unclear at a time

Introducing multiple variables at once can create unnecessary stress and anxiety without allowing adequate planning to occur. With that being said, a key way to make the most out of your time at college is experimenting with different activities to find what you truly like. So, make sure to switch things up, but don’t get yourself into a sticky situation as far as time goes.

7. Get a f*****g planner already

Okay, this might seem a tad aggressive. But, having a planner or at least figuring out a system of your own that works for you will make scheduling new things a breeze and help you to not forget those random plans you make with friends.

8. Try to sit in different places to do work or hang between classes

Even if time doesn’t allow you to do anything but schoolwork, you can still make the most out of your campus by switching up the places where you do your work or hang out. A lot of the time, people are on autopilot according to their schedules. So, if you sit somewhere new, there’s a very good chance that you will meet people that you otherwise would’ve never seen.

9. It’s okay to feel anxious or uncomfortable, but don’t let that stop you from getting involved and meeting new people

Let’s be honest, any time we try something new it takes a push outside of where our normal comfort zone lies. Feelings of anxiety about this are completely normal, but sometimes you have to remind yourself of this in order to not let it stop you from doing the things you really want to do.

10. Breathe, everyone is just as lost and confused as you are

While it may seem like certain people have everything together during your time at school, the vast majority is just as stressed about schoolwork, financial issues, and figuring out their future life plans as you. Just getting out there and talking to other people will make you feel better about your situation.

The key to making the most out of your college experience is understanding balance and using the many activities and interest groups around school to make discoveries about yourself. You should never feel like going to these things are a chore, but sometimes pushing yourself to get involved in something that is outside of your comfort zone can feel daunting. But, figuring out the amount and areas of involvement that are right for you can truly give you lifelong friends and help you make the most out of your school.


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