Balance in college - is that a thing?
If you stop any college student on campus and ask them how they’re feeling, you will get the same response: stressed. Is balance in college actually possible? Is there really enough time to do well in classes, be involved, and have a social life? Last year was a year of change for me leaving the comfort of my 300-person high school class for a university with more than 60,000 students. Looking back, I was able to handle many of the stresses common for first year students through little things that resulted in big differences. In this article I’ll describe what has made my transition a smooth and positive experience with how to establish a support system, get involved, and take the time for self-care.
Your support system starts with the one back home. With your newfound independence you may wonder why the weekly call to mom actually matters – but that weekly check in is what keeps you grounded and sane. Stay connected with whomever was your go-to person because they are there for you when it feels like everything has gone wrong and they know you the best.
Keeping in touch with your current support system is just as valuable as finding your new one at college. My advice can be summed up in two words that will make or break your college experience: Get. Involved. These words were echoed relentlessly at orientation and after my first semester I realized how these campus involvements enhanced my experience. The little efforts like looking around your college’s website of student organizations or going to the involvement fair pays dividends. These small acts of courage are where you’ll meet some of your best friends and learn the most about yourself and your passions.
Staying busy with involvements and meeting new people is great, but taking time for yourself is just as important. Finding that activity that helps you unload is the key to self-care, whether that be journaling, working out, or watching Netflix. It is challenging not to let fear of missing out or the continual burden of coursework hinder that time. It can start with simply carving out the extra ten minutes when you wake up or go to bed. For me, keeping a journal of all the things I’m grateful for enables me to be optimistic in pressing times.
Combine these components
Now you’re probably wondering when this blog is going to address the main stress inducer: actual classes. I saved this for last because the major components of balance that I’ve already mentioned all contribute to success in the classroom. First off, your support system helps you think big picture. I gave my Dad a phone call one Monday when I was freaking out about all the assignments and tests that upcoming week. Venting to him and his outside view reminded me to take things one day at a time. Secondly, getting involved not only forces you to manage your time, but it also makes your free study time more productive. The people I met through different clubs also provided familiar faces in classes who then became useful study partners. Lastly, taking that time for yourself gives you the leveled mental state that you need to do well on exams. Going on a run the morning before an exam gave me the clarity and confidence to reduce my test anxiety.
Any new situation is a time for growth, but always remember you are not alone in this endeavor! Lean on your support system, reach out to all the new people you will meet, and use this experience to truly find yourself.