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The College Balancing Act

High school graduation is around the corner, and, after that, college! Good riddance to sitting in classes from 8am to 3pm straight! Say hello to being in charge of your own schedule.

Speaking from experience, this can be an adjustment. But it needn’t be a stressful one! Here are some things to keep in mind to maintain some balance during this new phase of life.

  1. Don’t skimp on sleep. Seriously. Yes, this is a broadcast from Captain Obvious, but it’s an important one. According to the Sleep Foundation, we need sufficiently deep sleep to process emotions. Therefore, less sleep = an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and more. Sleep deprivation is not a badge of honor; it’s the quickest way to burn yourself out in college.
  2. Take it easy on the extracurriculars. You’ll likely stumble upon clubs and student groups recruiting in the quad frequently. Most schools have a big extracurricular fair early in the academic year as well! Joining a group is a wonderful way to make friends and feel at home. However, biting off more than you can chew will only swamp your schedule and your mind. Start with one or two activities the first semester, then increase as you get a better sense for your capacity.
  3. Learn how to be your own health advocate. I’ll readily admit that my mom made my doctor’s appointments for me until I got to college! I had to learn how to anticipate and schedule health checkups, request prescription refills, and keep track of my health history. It may seem silly now–especially if you’re relatively healthy–but your physical health is something you’ll need to manage for the rest of your life. Start now! Make a list of your medications, family health history, and concerns in your Notes app so you always have it on hand for doctor’s appointments.
  4. Know yourself. Be honest. What are your bad habits? We’ve all got things we excel at and ones we’d like to improve upon. Are you chronically late? Do you procrastinate? Ask yourself why this might be, then craft some simple steps to work on it: set an alarm on your phone to tell you that you’ve got a 5 minute warning until you have to be out the door. Make a checklist of only two things a day to get done. Little things add up to big results!
  5. If you need help, ask for it. And don’t wait. There’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed. Reach out to your academic advisor if you’re struggling with your course load. Sign up for office hours with your professor or TA. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, check out your school’s mental health services: a therapist, social worker, or peer support group can act as a non-partial party in your life to help you build up your emotional and organizational toolkit as you navigate college and beyond.