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Living the College Lifestyle: The Key to Finding Balance

The skills you need to get you through the semester.

multicultural group of friends taking a selfie.
(Image credit: Shutterstock/DavideAngelini)

Feeling stressed about the return to school? Having difficulty balancing academics and work while also finding time for yourself? Read on and discover a few tactics you can implement to set the proper balance in life.

Getting back into the school grind after the break has always been difficult, for me at least. Going from working your tail off, staying up late at night, and chilling at home with family and friends to getting up for an 8 a.m. class is never easy.

On top of a full week of classes, some of us are also tackling a part-time job. So, with all this work on our hands, where’s the time for that relaxation we all need?

I went around my college campus, asking students about their work, school, and life balance. Most of them have said they prioritize school and any jobs before themselves.

One student, Nykolas Moore, found it difficult to save time for himself.

“It’s a work-school balance and life fits in accidentally.”

Nykolas Moore

This happens for a lot – if not all – college students. We get back into the routine of school, put job schedules around that and find little to no time left to just be present.

Here are a few things I’ve found from my research and what other college students seem to be doing to not only organize their lives but also live them.

Knowing your limit

Profile of a girl in a dimly lit library working on a laptop with papers surrounding it.
Credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff

One of my professors proposed the idea the other day that because we’re college students, we have this constant need for money. So, naturally, taking on a job – maybe multiple – while in school seems like the right course of action.

But what most people don’t think of is the ease with which burnout creeps up on you.

An action most students said they use against this is calendars. Putting everything into a calendar helps you see what your week will look like and how cramped – or not – it may be.

Something that surprised me with this is that a lot of people mentioned physical calendars (Wait, I’m not the only one that does this?). Whether it’s a whiteboard or an actual paper copy, people have said that physically writing down or erasing their weeks and seeing them in person makes it easier to plan things out.

One thing I can add to this is color coding. Is it just me, or does everyone’s calendar look like a rainbow thrown up on it?

Dedicating an individual color for school, work, medical needs, life, etc., makes planning much easier from a visual standpoint. And it’s also fun to just make your calendar look pretty.

Time management

In this TikTok, Armani Fountain explains the importance of time management and structuring your days and weeks.

Fountain describes that his way of managing this is by putting high-priority items at the top of the list and less important items at the bottom.

Creating a list of all the tasks you need to complete by the end of the week and then organizing it into order of importance can help minimize procrastination and maximize time.

Self-care

Brunette is waking up in the Morning, Stretches in the Bed, Sun Shines on Her From the Big Window in front of her
Credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff

There are the obvious self-care things: hanging with friends, eating breakfast, sleeping, etc. But, to my surprise again (this time, I actually am the only one that does this), college students aren’t taking the time to prioritize all these things. Sure, everyone finds time for friends, but everything else on that list is just as important.

Eat

Eating breakfast, especially before an early class, is so important – and not just because no one wants to hear a stomach grumbling throughout a lecture.

Last week, I asked my friend what she had for breakfast before our 8 a.m. class, and she said a piece of gum. I really don’t think I can go through the many ways in which that’s wrong.

So, find time for breakfast. Even if it’s just a granola bar on the way to class, it’ll be enough to set you up before your next meal.

Sleep

Every person I spoke to on campus said they either don’t or rarely prioritize sleep.

I gave up on eight hours a long time ago, but getting six works wonders. It increases my attention span and especially my overall mood.

On the flip side, I know students like Lenny Omani who work better at night.

“I like to burn the midnight oil and stay up late working, it’s how I function.”

Lenny Omani

On that subject, if you are a late worker, prioritize naps. A thirty-minute nap can sometimes be all you need to get from one class to the next. However, be cautious of napping for over an hour; no one wants to feel groggy during the day.

Reset

Another student on my campus, Daisy Calderon, said she likes doing self-care days.

“On Sundays, I watch movies, do face masks, and eat ice cream. It’s very therapeutic for me.”

Daisy Calderon

Sometimes, a quick reset is all you need. Allocating at least half a day to whatever you do to destress may make a big difference in how you feel for the rest of the week.

Finch

Digital art of a green forest with a blue sky. A large cartoon bird waves to a baby one. The words, "A unique companion who grows with you" are in the top left corner in pink.
Credit: Google Play/Finch Care Public Benefit Corporation

Finch is an app an overseas family member shared with me a few weeks ago. Essentially, it’s all about self-care and personal growth.

You move through the game with a bird you care for, all the while setting daily goals for yourself. But it’s not just one of those self-care goals type of apps. It also features activities like stretches, breathwork, daily check-ins, and personal quizzes about mental health.

I’m a type-A procrastinator, but this app is so laid back and chill it makes me want to complete these mini-tasks to better my cute little bird – which, in turn, betters myself.

You can also friend people who have the app and send them little messages throughout the day, like hugs, calm thoughts, and even water reminders.

The point is that Finch is a great way to reconnect with yourself and take the time – even if it’s only a few minutes – to destress and just breathe.

Implementing these tactics and ideas will help you set your work, school, and life balance.

Written By

Hey, I'm Madi, an aspiring editor in my second year of Journalism at Mohawk College. Other than hanging out with family and friends, I spend my time snuggled under a warm blanket, wearing the fluffiest socks I own, knocking books off my TBR list.

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