The new freedom of being a college student, whether you are away from home or not, challenges your ability to find a balance between having a social life and still maintaining a high G.P.A., and is a constant struggle. With little to no supervision, the temptation to go out and socialize and put your homework on the back burner can become very easy. “You need to effectively manage your time,” said Kai Raub, a sophomore at the University at Albany. “You need to strike a balance…both are important, but you need to focus on the priorities.”
While Hollywood might glorify the freedom of being away from home and partying, the reality is, it just isn’t like that. Yes there are plenty of parties every week, but you need to ask yourself why you’re away at school. Is it to party and socialize or is it to engage yourself in your major to prepare for the real world? This is an important decision every college student needs to make before thousands of dollars worth of loans are taken out.
The first thing any college student should do prior to classes starting is purchasing a weekly planner. By writing homework down for each class throughout the day you can organize what needs to be done and when. Not only are they useful for organization but also being able to physically see what you have accomplished and what work still needs to be completed can help time management and a social life.
Clubs are another great way to keep your grades high and maintain your social life. Typically most clubs only meet a few times a week for about an hour or two depending on the type of club you’re in. They allow a window of opportunity for a break and the ability to socialize without impeding on your work.
“First of all you need to make a schedule of everything you need/have to do, this includes your social activities and your schoolwork,” said Berni Reynoso, a sophomore at the University at Albany. “You need to organize your time so you can give everything the time it deserves.” Effectively being able to manage your time properly is a sign of maturity and growing up. If you’re unable to manage your time in college chances are those poor habits will continue to haunt you after you graduate. Your professors may accept a late assignment but when you’re put out into the real world your boss is not going to accept projects past their deadline, instead you will be fired and replaced.
The “reward system” is another effective way to stay on top of things while maintaining a social life. The reward system is being able to buckle down, put your work first and then going out to socialize. By doing this not only will the feeling of having something hanging over your head disappear but also stress levels can dramatically decrease. What some students don’t realize is that the college parties are not going anywhere. There will be nights that you won’t be able to go out and that is OK your friends will understand and if they don’t then it might be time to look for new ones.
“Set deadlines so that you are pressured to finish your work at a certain time and leave room to hang out. I do all of my classwork from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” said Vertis McMillan, a junior at the University at Albany. “… The only time I didn’t have good grades one semester was when I didn’t do this. As someone with a learning disability and ADD, this helps a lot.”
Going to the library in groups is also another great way to keep your nose to the grindstone and socialize. Often times doing work alone can make one miserable. By going in a group you can get your work done and socialize at the same time (just make sure you’re actually doing your work not just fooling around.) The saying goes “misery loves company,” so why not be miserable together as you do your work?
Attendance does count. Sometimes students tend to think just because they are away at events they can miss three, four, even five classes. Most classes typically allow you two sometimes three absences, but every one after that will begin to negatively affect your grades. Absences should be saved in the case that there is an actual emergency and you aren’t just hung-over. This also applies to lecture halls that don’t take attendance. In some classes you may just be a number and the professor will not take attendance. While classes like these are very easy to skip, they are also very easy to fall behind in.
Not only are doing homework and being able to socialize main priorities, but also being able to get the required amount sleep is just as important. As humans we rely on sleep to replenish our body’s energy and to function properly. Students who put socializing above doing schoolwork are the ones who typically pull “all nighters” to finish that nine-page paper they had two weeks to accomplish. All nighters usually lead to ruined sleep schedules, which in turn will begin to reflect on your performance in class. Lack of sleep will affect the ability to socialize properly. Going out on minimal amounts of sleep is not the ideal situation every college student wants to put him or herself in.
According to scientificamerican.com, students who don’t get enough sleep have poorer attendance and lower grades than those who do. It was also noted in a study published in Learning & Memory that students are better off just going to sleep rather than staying up all night cramming for an exam. However if you manage your time correctly, there isn’t much of a need to stay up the night before and cram. You may want to think twice about deciding whether you should attend that fraternity party or spend the night studying.
Being away at school gives you the ability to live a lifestyle however you please but it is the responsibility of each student not to abuse the freedom they’re given. Being able to accomplish your work, socialize and get enough sleep are not hard to balance as long as you manage your time properly. The choices you make in college are the ones that will make or break your experience, so choose wisely.