7 Tactics for Students to Balance College, Work and Social Life

7 Tactics for Students to Balance College, Work and Social Life

College life is a constant juggling act. You’re studying, taking part in clubs, working, and socialising. Sometimes it can feel like you don’t even have time to breathe. There is a way to do all of these things and keep going, though. Follow these seven tips to get the most out of college without heading for burnout. This should be the best time of your life, and following this advice can help you achieve academic success as well as full and active social life.

  1. Study smarter, not harder.

    A lot of students decide that effective studying equals long hours spent in the library, poring away at the books. They’ve made the mistake of thinking that the longer you study, the more you take in. In fact, the opposite can be true. Spend long enough studying without breaks, and you aren’t going to take anything in. Go for a walk and get away from the books. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to learn.

    Psychology experts also confirm that the phenomenon of studying smarter, not harder improves the amount of knowledge you retain, and your ability to apply it. They advise the following tips for really putting this concept into practice:

    •  Once you’ve studied something, give yourself a couple of hours, a few days, or even a whole week before you re-study it. This is known as ‘spacing’ and strengthens your memory.

    •  Test yourself – on all subjects, not just scientific ones where it’s easy to use flashcards.

    These two methods on how to study harder leave you with a better memory, and a way to identify and remedy gaps in your knowledge, so should be implemented during all study periods.

  2. Ask for help when you need it

    It is college, you need to learn to manage on your own, right? True, but learning that actually means knowing when to ask for help. If you’re struggling with your work, talk to a professor. If your mental or physical health is declining, go to the health centre. Those who can ask for help can get back on track, and succeed, much more quickly. Admitting that we’re struggling during college is extremely tough. It may seem like everyone else is flourishing, when the truth is that this is a difficult transition for everyone, and you are not alone in the struggle. However, if you’re still uncomfortable in coming forward and talking about problems, there are many anonymous services such as ULifeline. Anonymous services offer you the chance to be heard, and helped, but without the feeling of vulnerability that comes from opening up to someone you know or see regularly.

  1. Manage your schedule

    It’s tempting to stuff your schedule full of exciting things, and you should experience new things while you’re at college. Remember though, there’s only 24 hours in a day. If you try to cram too many things in, you’ll burn out much more quickly. Instead, take your time. You’ve got years at college, don’t worry about fitting everything in. Your main priority at college should be your studies – it is a higher education institute after all. Give classes a couple of weeks, and then realistically assess how much free time you have and decide on your priorities, whether they’re sports, socializing, music, or any other college opportunities.

  1. Slow down if you need to

    Need a break? Take it. Step off the soccer team for a while, or put a hold on tutoring. You can’t help anyone when you’re overworked. You’ll feel much better when you come back to it. You may hear the phrase ‘burnout’ being casually thrown around campus, however don’t be fooled – this is a serious issue for many young college students. It’s a state of mental and physical exhaustion, that can have a negative affect on your grades, your relationships, and your mental health. Many articles and studies are listing burnout as one of the top ten reasons students drop out of school – so when you feel overwhelmed, overworked, and overtired, give yourself a break. Take days off from any extra-curricular that you do and allow yourself time to feel stronger again. This isn’t a weakness – recognizing that you need to help yourself is a strength.

  1. Use online tools

    There are lots of online tools that make essay writing and general college life much easier on you. Try these tools the next time you’re struggling to get writing:

    •  Australian Help: This website has a whole host of guides that make writing any essay a walk in the park. Try their grammar guides, assignment help page, or their citation guides

    •  Writemonkey: Struggle to write without getting distracted? This writing tool is a stripped down, simple tool, that lets you get on with the job at hand.

    •  Easy Word Count: You’re given word counts in your assignments for a reason, to keep you on track. This tool will give you an accurate word count when you need it.

    •  Wunderlist: This app is the best to do list app out there. You can make personal lists, or create shared ones. They’re great when planning group projects.

    •  Boomessays: Sometimes, you need someone to give your essay that final once over. This writing service can look at it with an experienced eye before you hand it in.

    •  iStudiez Pro: This organisation app will help you get yourself organised. Create schedules for work and school, and keep track of your accomplishments.

    •  RefME: This tool is a lifesaver for citing your sources. Scan the book’s barcode into your phone, and it will create an instant citation for you.

  2. Be able to say no

    There are lots of opportunities at college, and you want to say yes and please everyone. However, it’s just not possible to fit it all in. Say no once in a while, and your tired brain will thank you. Everyone needs a day curled up in front of Netflix every once in a while. While it’s easy to become giddy with excitement at the societies fair, and suddenly realize you have a dozen passions, when you really think about it, you know who you are, what you like, and what societies and activities are for you. Stay true to who you are, and remember that it’s OK to say no.

  3. Eat well

    It sounds obvious, but many students don’t eat well when they come to college. Eating junk all day every day means you’ll feel ill, and won’t be up to all the cool stuff that’s out there. Make sure to keep fruit and vegetables in your diet, and slow down on the fast food. Make sure you drink enough water during the day, too. While ramen may be the cheapest thing in the store, and not grow mould even after a couple of weeks, your brain works better with a good diet. Scientists have confirmed time and again that fish, fruits, vegetables, and even coconut oil can boost your brain. So give yourself the best odds at succeeding in college by eating as well as you can.

These tips and tools should help you get the right balance while you’re at college. Of course you want to do everything, but you need to listen to your body first. Taking it slow from time to time will help you get the most out of the college experience.


About the Author: Gloria Kopp

Gloria Kopp is a web content writer and an elearning consultant from Manville city. She graduated from University of Wyoming and started a career of a creative writer, now she works as a blog editor at Essayroo. She is also is a regular contributor to such websites as StudydemicBigassignments, HuffingtonPost, Engadget, etc.

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Behaviour is never from ‘bad’. It’s from ‘big’. Big hungry, big tired, big disconnection, big missing, big ‘too much right now’. The reason our responses might not work can often be because we’ve misread the story, or we’ve missed an important piece of it. Their story might be about now, today, yesterday, or any of the yesterdays before now. 

Our job isn’t to fix them. They aren’t broken. Our job is to understand them. Only then can we steer our response in the right direction. Otherwise we’re throwing darts at the wrong target - behaviour, instead of the need behind the behaviour. 

Watch, listen, breathe and be with. Feel what they feel. This will help them feel you with them. We all feel safer and calmer when we feel our people beside us - not judging or hurrying or questioning. What don’t you know, that they need you to know?♥️
We all have first up needs. The difference between adults and children is that we can delay the meeting of these needs for a bit longer than children - but we still need them met. 

The first most important question the brain needs answered is, ‘Is my body safe?’ - Am I free from threat, hunger, exhaustion, pain? This is usually an easier one to take care of or to recognise when it might need some attention. 

The next most important question is, ‘Is my heart safe?’ - Am I loved, noticed, valued, claimed, wanted, welcome? This can be an easy one to overlook, especially in the chaos of the morning. Of course we love them and want them - and sometimes we’ll get distracted, annoyed, frustrated, irritated. None of this changes how much we love and want them - not even for a second. We can feel two things at once - madly in love with them and annoyed/ distracted/ frustrated. Sometimes though, this can leave their ‘Is my heart safe?’ needs a little hungry. They have less capacity than us to delay the meeting of these needs. When these needs are hungry, we’ll be more likely to see big feelings or big behaviour. 

The more you can fill their love tanks at the start of the day, the more they’ll be able to handle the bumps. This doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be enough. It might look like having a cuddle, reading a story, having a chat, sitting with them while they have breakfast or while they pat the dog, touching their back when they walk past, telling them you love them.

All brains need to feel loved and wanted, and as though they aren’t a nuisance, but sometimes they’ll need to feel it more. The more their felt sense of relational safety is met, the more they’ll be able to then focus on ‘thinking brain’ things, such as planning, making good decisions, co-operating, behaving. 

(And if this today was a bumpy one, that’s okay. Those days are going to happen. If most of the time their love tanks are full, they’ll handle when it drops a little. Just top it up when you can. And don’t forget to top yours up too. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it as much as they do.)♥️
Things will always go wrong - a bad decision, a good decision with a bad outcome, a dilemma, wanting something that comes with risk. 

Often, the ‘right thing’ lives somewhere in the very blurry bounds of the grey. Sometimes it will be about what’s right for them. Sometimes what’s right for others. Sometimes it will be about taking a risk, and sometimes the ‘right’ thing just feels wrong right now, or wrong for them. Even as adults, we will often get things wrong. This isn’t because we’re bad, or because we don’t know the right thing from the wrong thing, but because few things are black and white. 

The problem with punishment and harsh consequences is that we remove ourselves as an option for them to turn to next time things end messy, or as a guide before the mess happens. 

Feeling safe in our important relationships is a primary need for all of us humans. That means making sure our relationships are free from judgement, humiliation, shame, separation. If our response to their ‘wrong things’ is to bring all of these things to the table we share with them with them, of course they’ll do anything to avoid it. This isn’t about lying or secrecy. It’s about maintaining relational ‘safety’, or closeness.

Kids want to do the right thing. They want us to love and accept them. But they’re going to get things wrong sometimes. When they do, our response will teach them either that we are safe for them to come to no matter what, or that we aren’t. 

So what do we do when things go wrong? Embrace them, reject the behaviour:

‘I love that you’ve been honest with me. That means everything to me. I know you didn’t expect things to end up like this, but here we are. Let’s talk about what’s happened and what can be different next time.’

Or, ‘Something must have made this (wrong thing) feel like the right thing to do, otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. We all do that sometimes. What do you think it was that was for you?’

Or, ‘I know you know lying isn’t okay. What made you feel like you couldn’t tell me the truth? How can we build the trust again. Let’s talk about how to do that.’

You will always be their greatest guide, but you can only be that if they let you.♥️
Whenever there is a call to courage, there will be anxiety - every time. That’s what makes it brave. This is why challenging things, brave things, important things will often drive anxiety. 

At these times - when they are safe, but doing something hard - the feelings that come with anxiety will be enough to drive avoidance. When it is avoidance of a threat, that’s important. That’s anxiety doing it’s job. But when the avoidance is in response to things that are important, brave, meaningful, that avoidance only serves to confirm the deficiency story. This is when we want to support them to take tiny steps towards that brave thing. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.l and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Brave is about being able to handle the discomfort of anxiety enough to do the important, challenging thing. It’s built in tiny steps, one after the other. 

We don’t have to get rid of their anxiety and neither do they. They can feel anxious, and do brave. At these times (safe, but scary) they need us to take a posture of validation and confidence. ‘I believe you, and I believe in you.’ ‘I know this feels big, and I know you can handle it.’ 

What we’re saying is we know they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. They don’t have to handle it well, and they don’t have to handle it for too long. Handling it is handling it, and that’s the substance of ‘brave’. 

Being brave isn’t about doing the brave thing, but about being able to handle the discomfort of the anxiety that comes with that. And if they’ve done that today, at all, or for a moment longer than yesterday, then they’ve been brave today. It doesn’t matter how messy it was or how small it was. Let them see their brave through your eyes.‘That was big for you wasn’t it. And you did it. You felt anxious, and you stayed with it. That’s what being brave is all about.’♥️
A relationally unsafe (emotionally unsafe) environment can cause as much breakage as as a physically unsafe one. 

The brain’s priority will always be safety, so if a person or environment doesn’t feel emotionally safe, we might see big behaviour, avoidance, or reduced learning. In this case, it isn’t the child that’s broken. It’s the environment.

But here’s the thing, just because a child doesn’t feel safe, doesn’t mean the person or environment isn’t safe. What it means is that there aren’t enough signals of safety - yet, and there’s a little more work to do to build this. ‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, it’s about what the brain perceives. Children might have the safest, warmest, most loving adult in front of them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel safe. This is when we have to look at how we might extend bigger cues of warmth, welcome, inclusiveness, and what we can do (or what roles or responsibilities can we give them) to help them feel valued and needed. This might take time, and that’s okay. Children aren’t meant to feel safe with every adult in front of them, so sometimes what they need most is our patience and understanding as we continue to build this. 

This is the way it works for all of us, everywhere. None of us will be able to give our best or do our best if we don’t feel welcome, liked, valued, and free from hostility, humiliation or judgement. 

This is especially important for our schools. A brain that doesn’t feel safe can’t learn. For schools to be places of learning, they first have to be places of relationship. Before we focus too sharply on learning support and behaviour management, we first have to focus on felt sense of safety support. The most powerful way to do this is through relationship. Teachers who do this are magic-makers. They show a phenomenal capacity to expand a child’s capacity to learn, calm big behaviour, and open up a child’s world. But relationships take time, and felt safety takes time. The time it takes for this to happen is all part of the process. It’s not a waste of time, it’s the most important use of it.♥️

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