How to balance coursework and other academic and social obligations: Do’s and Don’ts

How to balance coursework and other social obligations
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Managing time in college can be a daunting task as you strive to excel in academics, create memorable experiences with friends, earn additional income, and ensure that your college years are as remarkable as they are hyped to be. However, not allocating enough time for rest and falling behind in coursework can cause stress and transform your college experience into a nightmare. Therefore, it is essential to avoid such situations by outlining effective strategies to manage your time instead of fretting over how to balance everything. Remember, taking action is more productive than worrying.

Things you should do

1. Use a planner:

One effective way to stay organized is to use a planner with your teachers’ prompting, just like the ones you may have used in high school. You can manage your daily tasks, deadlines, and other responsibilities by utilizing either a physical planner or a digital one on your phone. Personalizing your planner can make it more engaging and easier to use, while using your phone can also help you keep track of your schedule. The main idea is to have a reliable means of recording and referencing your tasks and events, which can help you stay focused, grounded, and confident.

2. Establish a consistent sleeping routine

College students often develop unhealthy sleep patterns, like staying up late, skipping classes due to oversleeping, napping during the day, and pulling all-nighters to complete assignments. This habit can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Therefore, it is essential to set a bedtime routine. If you cannot determine a specific time, set a limit and aim to be in bed by midnight if you have work due the next day. Also, ensure that you wake up at a consistent time every day. You will be doing your body a favour by following a consistent sleep schedule.

3. Establish Goals

Creating short- and long-term targets can aid in maintaining organization, drive, and responsibility. Achieving these objectives can also lead to a sense of fulfilment. At the beginning of the semester, develop a practical yet slightly challenging list of goals, and attach deadlines for each. For instance, you could set aside an hour every day for focused studying as a short-term goal, while striving to achieve the dean’s list could be a long-term goal. You can include additional goals to the list as you go, but make sure to mark them as complete when you achieve them.

4. Attend classes regularly and remain attentive

Attending classes regularly is essential, regardless of whether attendance is mandatory. Every class day is a valuable investment, and skipping class would save significant money on tuition fees. However, merely showing up in class and not paying attention is equally unproductive. Remember that the primary purpose of attending college is to gain knowledge and education that will shape your future. Therefore, you are responsible for remaining focused and attentive during classes, as you are no longer in a high school environment with extra support and guidance.

 5. Plan with your syllabi

Your course syllabus is a valuable resource provided by your professors. It serves as a formal agreement between you and your professor. Add critical dates from each syllabus to your calendar, and set up reminders to avoid being surprised by looming deadlines and examination dates.

6. Maintain your physical health

Maintaining your physical health is crucial, and it should be noticed. Many college students gain weight, known as the “freshman 15,” due to excessive consumption of unhealthy food items from the dining hall. It is crucial to avoid unhealthy eating patterns that may result in illness in the future. If you have a caffeine addiction, limiting your intake and practising moderation is advisable, as caffeine can harm your body.

Although it could be difficult to find time for a complete workout routine, it’s crucial to set aside some time for physical exercise, even if it’s just for a short period, such as 10 or 30 minutes each day. Exercise is crucial for improving blood flow, and maintaining a healthy diet is just as crucial. Thus, it’s crucial to prioritize your physical health and practice self-care.

7. Make sure to allocate “me time”

If you feel bad for taking some personal time, don’t worry about it. Taking time for yourself is necessary, especially if you prefer solitude, as it helps reduce stress levels. You can choose any activity you enjoy doing during this period, such as having a calming spa night, playing video games, or binge-watching Netflix. Make sure to set aside a substantial amount of time for yourself at least once a month. You’ll appreciate it later!

8. Enjoy socializing with your friends

Spending time with friends is also an essential part of college life. While studying together is possible, it’s important to have fun together without any academic pressure. You can mix socializing with everyday activities like meals or studying if you’re too busy. Alternatively, you can plan to hang out at a park, grab a coffee, take a quick trip, or have a game night. Socializing shouldn’t replace your study time, but it’s an important aspect of college life that you should enjoy.

9. Take breaks

To achieve success, it’s vital to challenge yourself, but it’s equally important to recognize your limitations. Constantly pushing yourself beyond your limits can lead to exhaustion. As a result, it’s essential to take short breaks to recharge, even if you have only a few minutes to spare. You can utilize your free time to engage in activities you enjoy. However, it’s crucial not to overdo it – taking a day off every other day is not advisable. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, taking a brief break can be advantageous.

10. Make sure to have a support system around you

Establishing a network of support is crucial while you’re in college. This network could consist of your friends, family, classmates, neighbours, counsellors, and tutors. Try to stay away from individuals who cause you emotional harm and instead seek out those who can provide you with emotional encouragement, hold you accountable for your actions, and inspire you to grow. Keep in mind that it’s crucial to take responsibility for your own well-being as you become an independent adult.

Things you should NOT do

1. Try not to procrastinate

It’s important to avoid procrastination in college. Even though it’s tempting to put things off, there are better ideas than this, especially regarding assignments, reports, presentations, speeches, and exams. You should plan, check your planner, and be responsible. Be sure to start working on important tasks before the last minute. If you do, you risk failing a class or performing poorly on a major exam. This could affect your degree and your transcript, and some professors may be less willing to help you if you are consistently behind. Remember, your degree is on the line, so don’t take unnecessary risks by procrastinating.

2. All-nighters are not recommended

This advice may appear apparent, but it can also be difficult to adhere to. Finishing your tasks ahead of time could mean working late into the night. However, pulling an all-nighter and studying all night and morning instead of sleeping is not a good idea. Repeatedly reviewing your notes without taking a break to rest your brain won’t help you retain the information. Staying up all night will leave you exhausted and without a strong foundation.

3. Don’t cram

Cramming, whether during an all-nighter or not, is not recommended. It’s more beneficial to practice with tests and quiz yourself on the material instead of repeatedly studying without comprehension. Cramming overwhelms your brain with information you may not understand, resulting in memorization without retention. Therefore, it’s best to study beforehand and then practice for tests, which is more effective than cramming the night before.

4. Don’t rely on improvisation

Do not assume that you can wing an exam or project if you are unprepared. It is not a good idea, and relying on luck is not a safe bet regarding your academic performance. Planning and taking responsibility for your studies is essential to avoid such situations, and you should always prepare yourself beforehand.

5. One should avoid letting everything turn into chaos

This advice pertains to both the physical and mental aspects of your life. Allowing your living space, notes, or schedule to become disorganized can negatively impact your mental well-being. For example, your thoughts may feel cluttered if your belongings are in disarray. If you allow your laundry to pile up, it can make you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list. It’s important to tidy up your surroundings to help clear your mind.

6. Avoid skipping work

Take the necessary time if you have a legitimate reason to take a day off from work. However, if you don’t have a valid excuse, don’t be the employee who is frequently absent, arrives late or leaves early. It’s important to be dedicated to your job and establish a reputation for being dependable, especially if you plan on pursuing a career in that field. Your employer can also serve as a valuable reference in the future.

7. Don’t neglect class

Professors do not tolerate a lack of participation, disengagement during lectures, or procrastination. It is important to take responsibility for your learning and not be complacent or idle.

8. Avoid isolating yourself in your dorm room

During college, feeling overwhelmed and intimidated is typical, so taking short breaks and allocating time for yourself is essential. However, it’s equally important not to isolate yourself from the outside world by confining yourself to your dorm room or a single area of the library. Remember that your studies are your primary focus, but you should also have a social life. Therefore, don’t miss out on experiences and opportunities by avoiding social interaction.

9. Try to seek assistance when necessary

You should not hesitate to seek assistance from the resources available on your campus. Take advantage of tutoring services, meet with your professors, and visit the health centre for health-related concerns. These support systems exist to help students like you. Learning centres, writing centres, and tutoring services offer academic support in various subjects, while professors appreciate students who attend during their office hours. The health centre is typically included in the student fees and provides various health-related services. The faculty and staff are willing to assist you, but you must contact them for help.

10. Don’t be afraid to branch out

College is an opportunity to explore and experiment, so don’t hesitate to leave your comfort zone. It’s a chance to experience different things, whether trying new foods, exploring the town, trying new hobbies and sports, or experimenting with your style. This is the perfect time to build your identity, so don’t fear taking risks and trying something new.

Author Bio: Mark Edmonds is an academic writer and educator passionate about helping students achieve their academic goals. He has extensive experience providing assignment writing services to students of all levels. With a strong background in education and a keen eye for detail, Mark is committed to delivering high-quality and customized coursework help that meets the specific needs of each student. He believes every student deserves a chance to succeed and is dedicated to providing the guidance and support necessary to help them achieve their academic aspirations.