Balancing School, Work and Life in College

With finals week fast upon us, life is once again reaching one of those peaks. A peak where it feels like no matter how many things you accomplish in a day, there’s always something more to be done tomorrow, always further to climb. With every final out of the way we’re one step closer to reaching the peak and getting to slide down the backside of the mountain into winter break. But, if you’re anything like me, this winter break is just another peak waiting to be conquered.

Work, school, friends, relationships, hobbies, sports, events, traveling; there hardly seems to be enough hours in the year to find the proper amount of time for all of the important things in our lives. College is the time in our lives when we have the chance to learn how to balance these important things, to balance our lives.

The majority of us come to school to seek success in our studies, to earn the degree that will one day enable our careers. Often times though it feels this success comes at a price, the other parts of our lives paying.

As a full time student who works multiple part-time seasonal jobs, I go through periods of calm and chaos. With the winter season here the chaos period has descended and I’m finding once again I must search for a balance between my work and school. Not to mention I still need time to be with friends when I’m not completely exhausted, which is difficult considering the balancing act alone is exhausting. So, below I have compiled a list of things to consider when trying to balance your own life.

Consider which you find more important- school or work?

Some students are okay with taking a bit longer to complete their undergraduate degree if the work they are involved with is time sensitive and important. And that’s okay! Not every person is going to follow the classic structure of school first, then work. Opportunity doesn’t always consider time when it comes knocking, so when it comes let it in! Even if this means taking a little longer to get through your undergraduate (or graduate) degree. If an opportunity too good to pass comes up that requires full time work, take a break from school or take on a part time school schedule. Whatever you choose recognize not all balance is the same, your path is your own!

Consider the rigor of your course load.

Not all classes are the same. Every degree requires certain classes, and some are going to be easier than others. If you’re like me and your work is more time intensive one semester compared to the other, consider taking more of the classes that will be less intense. Focus your rigorous classes during the semester, which you will have more time to devote to your school work. This will aid in finding a balance in your time and reduce your stress level.

Schedule a set time for yourself.

No matter how busy you are, regardless of what you’re busy with, make sure to schedule at least one hour every day for yourself. Watch your favorite show, read a book, get coffee with a friend, take a nap, do anything you love. As long as you have this time each day to look forward to, even the most stressful of days will have a bright spot within it. Don’t give up this time either, no matter how much work you have to do, taking a beat to breathe is imperative. Let this part of your day be as important as the rest of the day.

Make plans with friends in advance.

Often times we tend to get so busy we forget to spend time with our friends and the people we love. It’s easy to do. By making plans, even a week or two in advance, we are prioritizing our loved ones, which benefits their lives as well as our own. Having fun is just as important as success. Your social life is the third point in your balanced triangle, so give it equal priority and the time it deserves.

Remember your health.

Staying healthy in college can sometimes feel impossible, especially around finals. From pulling the all-nighters to study, to pulling the all-nighters to party on the weekend, our bodies get worn down pretty fast. A big part of success, in any aspect of life, is staying successful in being healthy. When you're healthy you're work drive is enhanced, in both school and work. You have more energy after work to spend time with friends and you feel more confident in the work you're doing. Health is the key to balance. So make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating right and carving out some time to exercise. Take care of yourself and the world will feel more inclined to take care of you.

Don’t compare your busy to anyone else’s busy.

Everyone handles workloads differently, and that’s completely okay. Your busy doesn’t compare to anyone else’s busy, just like your balance doesn’t compare to anyone else’s balance. So don’t waste time comparing yourself to others, be proud of all you accomplish each day and recognize no one else can do it the way you can.

Take a vacation.

Plan a vacation, even if it’s far off. It will give you something to look forward to and something to invest your success into. Everyone deserves to take a break and treat themselves.

So, as the semester comes to its close, focus on finding your balance. And remember, just as success does, balance comes in all different forms. Embrace your success and embrace your life!