One of the major challenges for college students is striking the balance between a healthy social life and keeping up with the demands of a rigorous academic schedule.  For many students, there can be the addition of a part-time job and/or sports activities added into the mix of commitments and responsibilities.  Finding the right balance between all of these things can be challenging.  Learning and growth from figuring this out is part of the college experience and good practices that are put in place can last far into adulthood.

Set Priorities, Stay Organized & Use a Calendar

Setting your priorities is a great place to start.  For most students, academics will be the top priority.  (It’s why you are there, after all.)  Use a good calendar or scheduling app to block off time for each of your classes as well as time for homework and assignments and then extra time for studying.  Add your job and any extra-curricular activity schedules next.  Once those items are in place, you can block off time for social activities – going out with friends, a movie night, hiking at a nearby park or other things that you would like to do for fun.  Keep open some unscheduled time as well for something that comes up at the last minute or just tv and rest time for yourself.  Find a good calendar app that allows you to color code different things on your schedule so that you can assess your schedule at a glance from wherever you might be.  Google calendar works well for this.

Keep to Your Schedule

Once you have prepared your schedule, stick to it as much as possible.  There will always be things that will interfere, but making an effort to keep those to a minimum will help you meet and exceed your goals.  Find a quiet place to study where you won’t have distractions.  Surround yourself with people who respect your decisions to study and won’t pressure you to break your schedule.  Make sure you are getting plenty of rest and that you are taking care of yourself by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.  That being said, integrate your social activities and fun times into your calendar to break up your day and minimize your stress and level of mental fatigue.

Adapt, and Ask for Help When You Need It

There will always be times when things don’t go as planned.  Be prepared to make changes to your schedule based on your needs.  If you get sick and are out of commission for a few days, your calendar will need to adapt to that.  Asking for help when you need it isn’t a shortcoming, it’s a strength.  Most professors will give extensions on assignments due to illness, and often an employer or co-worker can switch shifts for you on occasion when needed.  Friends and classmates can also help by sharing assignments or notes if you end up missing a day or two.  Most of the time, people are happy to help and this allows you to focus on getting back to your regular schedule more quickly.

Balancing our commitments and structuring our time are challenges that we continue to face throughout our lives.  Practicing and perfecting these skills and abilities while in college will go far to result in a well-rounded life that integrates commitments, responsibilities and a healthy social life.