When asked how he’d describe his college experience, Austin Fox, a 4th year electrical engineering student, resorts to an old, foolproof formula. “It’s like between getting good grades, getting enough sleep, and having a full personal life, you can only choose two,” he says, half-jokingly. While it’s not exactly Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the boiled down answer of Austin’s does sum up a conundrum he and college students everywhere face everyday. There is not enough time in the day to do it all.
The maxim does vary with different students, of course. It can include a family of one’s own that takes precedence over a social circle, or a job as another obligation to balance, or much more than three dimensions all together. But the effect is always the same. Students must constantly be prepared to sacrifice different wants to meet the needs of others – teachers, bosses, loved ones – and doing so is never easy. So how does one conquer the school-self-social “trifecta”?
“Moderation,” says Austin, “the less you over-do one or more things, the less you’ll under-do or forget to get around to everything else.” Pretty sound logic; the only way to prevent tipping the scales and sacrificing important obligations for social and personal choices, or vice versa, is to maintain a balance. Finding the right balance, Austin also insights, can “turn sleep and hanging out with friends into working parts of the same goal, not distractions from it.”
Moderating “spontaneity,” for example, that is saying yes (or no) too often when you’re asked to do something on a whim by friends or family, can help keep your social life in check. Maybe you’re having too much fun, maybe too little. If you are acting on a whim too much try setting plans with friends for later dates instead of falling behind quicker than you may realize due to an unexamined, spontaneous “yes.
And when it comes to your rest and recuperation time, moderating how much you commit yourself to is a way to keep yourself fresh. As Austin puts it, “It’s better to let someone know you won’t be able to meet a deadline or do them a favor than to overbook yourself, only get things done halfway, AND lose sleep stressing over it at the same time.” The second you get that feeling, like your life is getting too consumed by one thing, take a step back and see where other parts of your life may be paying the price, and whether or not it’s worth it.
Finally, if you ever feel like you may be spending too much time on school than you should (yes, this can happen) Austin reminds us that that too should be counterbalanced. “I always celebrate finishing exams by going out with friends; or I’ll treat myself to lunch during a busy day – maybe even someone else. It’s important to remember that college is about moderation and balance because not everything valuable you’ll learn will necessarily come from a textbook.” Wise words from a college vet.
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