Maintaining Balance as a College Student

by: Haiya Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

How many of you were excited about starting college but also, anxious and stressed about the changes? Mostly everyone! When you first start college, it is easy to get distracted, as college students have various new factors to explore such as: independence and freedom, academics, career, making new connections and being able to get socially involved, extra curriculars and campus life in a new location. As a college student, it is easy to get distracted and overwhelmed when multiple factors are on your radar. However, some solutions can be to make a schedule and set realistic goals, and balance the activities for each week based on priorities.

As the year begins, it can be easy to get ambitious and make unrealistic or vague goals at times, without any solid plan. Often the major outcome difference between realistic and unrealistic goals is disappointment, which leads to the thoughts of failure when you’re not successful in achieving the goal. Rather than having big goals, breaking down your goals into mini goals with timelines makes the much more achievable. Often, we as students will write big goals in our to-do lists and then feel like we did not achieve any part of the goal if we cannot cross it off. However, when the goals are broken down, and we can check off the mini goals more often, we will feel relieved and can also observe the progress that we have achieved so far.

One major aspect of success is balance. It can be easy to get caught up focusing on only one aspect of your life if you go in hyper-focus mode with the goal, but it is crucial to maintain the other aspects of your life as well. To create a balance, you can separate your goals into categories: academic/ career and social/ personal which gives you a sense of balance with social interactions as well as career.

One method to having balance is to have a schedule. For example: if you know you have an important personal event coming up next week, make sure you factor some extra hours into the alternate weeks to keep up your academics. Perusing further with the goals, having too many ongoing activities and experiences can cause burnout. Rather than having multiple activities, prioritize the activities and have depth in your extracurriculars with the few activities you choose. Reflecting on my personal experiences, I became too ambitious and joined many more extracurriculars than I could balance. Having felt a sense of commitment to the extracurriculars, (similar to performing chores), I felt I had to do it. I would be disappointed in myself when I could not attend the events or meetings because I was double booked. Eventually, I had to take a step back and pick few activities. I picked one extracurricular that correlates with my cultural background as I want to stay connected to my culture, one activity that aligns with my career goal, and one volunteering activity that helps me give back to the community. I genuinely resonated with my goals by participating in these limited activities, which allowed me to have a depth of connection with my goals, as well as truly able to invest my energy and time.

Starting a new chapter can be overwhelming with a variety of emotions rushing through, and it is easy to be distracted. However, having an end goal which is broken down into multiple sub goals can prevent you from getting distracted. Additionally having a schedule for your priorities will allow you to maintain a sense of balance in your life.