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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The temptation to fix their big feelings can be seismic. Often this is connected to needing to ease our own discomfort at their discomfort, which is so very normal.

Big feelings in them are meant to raise (sometimes big) feelings in us. This is all a healthy part of the attachment system. It happens to mobilise us to respond to their distress, or to protect them if their distress is in response to danger.

Emotion is energy in motion. We don’t want to bury it, stop it, smother it, and we don’t need to fix it. What we need to do is make a safe passage for it to move through them. 

Think of emotion like a river. Our job is to hold the ground strong and steady at the banks so the river can move safely, without bursting the banks.

However hard that river is racing, they need to know we can be with the river (the emotion), be with them, and handle it. This might feel or look like you aren’t doing anything, but actually it’s everything.

The safety that comes from you being the strong, steady presence that can lovingly contain their big feelings will let the emotional energy move through them and bring the brain back to calm.

Eventually, when they have lots of experience of us doing this with them, they will learn to do it for themselves, but that will take time and experience. The experience happens every time you hold them steady through their feelings. 

This doesn’t mean ignoring big behaviour. For them, this can feel too much like bursting through the banks, which won’t feel safe. Sometimes you might need to recall the boundary and let them know where the edges are, while at the same time letting them see that you can handle the big of the feeling. Its about loving and leading all at once. ‘It’s okay to be angry. It’s not okay to use those words at me.’

Ultimately, big feelings are a call for support. Sometimes support looks like breathing and being with. Sometimes it looks like showing them you can hold the boundary, even when they feel like they’re about to burst through it. And if they’re using spicy words to get us to back off, it might look like respecting their need for space but staying in reaching distance, ‘Ok, I’m right here whenever you need.’♥️
We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety have magic in them, every one of them, but until they have a felt sense of safety, it will often stay hidden.

‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what they feel. At school, they might have the safest, most loving teacher in the safest, most loving school. This doesn’t mean they will feel enough relational safety straight away that will make it easier for them to do hard things. They can still do those hard things, but those things are going to feel bigger for a while. This is where they’ll need us and their other anchor adult to be patient, gentle, and persistent.

Children aren’t meant to feel safe with and take the lead from every adult. It’s not the adult’s role that makes the difference, but their relationship with the child.

Children are no different to us. Just because an adult tells them they’ll be okay, it doesn’t mean they’ll feel it or believe it. What they need is to be given time to actually experience the person as being safe, supportive and ready to catch them.

Relationship is key. The need for safety through relationship isn’t an ‘anxiety thing’. It’s a ‘human thing’. When we feel closer to the people around us, we can rise above the mountains in our way. When we feel someone really caring about us, we’re more likely to open up to their influence
and learn from them.

But we have to be patient. Even for teachers with big hearts and who undertand the importance of attachment relationships, it can take time.

Any adult at school can play an important part in helping a child feel safe – as long as that adult is loving, warm, and willing to do the work to connect with that child. It might be the librarian, the counsellor, the office person, a teacher aide. It doesn’t matter who, as long as it is someone who can be available for that child at dropoff or when feelings get big during the day and do little check-ins along the way.

A teacher, or any important adult can make a lasting difference by asking, ‘How do I build my relationship with this child so s/he trusts me when I say, ‘I’ve got you, and I know you can do this.’♥️
There is a beautiful ‘everythingness’ in all of us. The key to living well is being able to live flexibly and more deliberately between our edges.

So often though, the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ we inhale in childhood and as we grow, lead us to abandon some of those precious, needed parts of us. ‘Don’t be angry/ selfish/ shy/ rude. She’s not a maths person.’ ‘Don’t argue.’ Ugh.

Let’s make sure our children don’t cancel parts of themselves. They are everything, but not always all at once. They can be anxious and brave. Strong and soft. Angry and calm. Big and small. Generous and self-ish. Some things they will find hard, and they can do hard things. None of these are wrong ways to be. What trips us up is rigidity, and only ever responding from one side of who we can be.

We all have extremes or parts we favour. This is what makes up the beautiful, complex, individuality of us. We don’t need to change this, but the more we can open our children to the possibility in them, the more options they will have in responding to challenges, the everyday, people, and the world. 

We can do this by validating their ‘is’ without needing them to be different for a while in the moment, and also speaking to the other parts of them when we can. 

‘Yes maths is hard, and I know you can do hard things. How can I help?’

‘I can see how anxious you feel. That’s so okay. I also know you have brave in you.’

‘I love your ‘big’ and the way you make us laugh. You light up the room.’ And then at other times: ‘It can be hard being in a room with new people can’t it. It’s okay to be quiet. I could see you taking it all in.’

‘It’s okay to want space from people. Sometimes you just want your things and yourself for yourself, hey. I feel like that sometimes too. I love the way you know when you need this.’ And then at other times, ‘You looked like you loved being with your friends today. I loved watching you share.’

The are everything, but not all at once. Our job is to help them live flexibly and more deliberately between the full range of who they are and who they can be: anxious/brave; kind/self-ish; focussed inward/outward; angry/calm. This will take time, and there is no hurry.♥️
For our kids and teens, the new year will bring new adults into their orbit. With this, comes new opportunities to be brave and grow their courage - but it will also bring anxiety. For some kiddos, this anxiety will feel so big, but we can help them feel bigger.

The antidote to a felt sense of threat is a felt sense of safety. As long as they are actually safe, we can facilitate this by nurturing their relationship with the important adults who will be caring for them, whether that’s a co-parent, a stepparent, a teacher, a coach. 

There are a number of ways we can facilitate this:

- Use the name of their other adult (such as a teacher) regularly, and let it sound loving and playful on your voice.
- Let them see that you have an open, willing heart in relation to the other adult.
- Show them you trust the other adult to care for them (‘I know Mrs Smith is going to take such good care of you.’)
- Facilitate familiarity. As much as you can, hand your child to the same person when you drop them off.

It’s about helping expand their village of loving adults. The wider this village, the bigger their world in which they can feel brave enough. 

For centuries before us, it was the village that raised children. Parenting was never meant to be done by one or two adults on their own, yet our modern world means that this is how it is for so many of us. 

We can bring the village back though - and we must - by helping our kiddos feel safe, known, and held by the adults around them. We need this for each other too.

The need for safety through relationship isn’t an ‘anxiety thing’. It’s a ‘human thing’. When we feel closer to the people around us, we can rise above the mountains that block our way.♥️

That power of felt safety matters for all relationships - parent and child; other adult and child; parent and other adult. It all matters. 

A teacher, or any important adult in the life of a child, can make a lasting difference by asking, ‘How do I build my relationship with this child (and their parent) so s/he trusts me when I say, ‘I’ve got you, I care about you, and I know you can do this.’♥️
Approval, independence, autonomy, are valid needs for all of us. When a need is hungry enough we will be driven to meet it however we can. For our children, this might look like turning away from us and towards others who might be more ready to meet the need, or just taking.

If they don’t feel they can rest in our love, leadership, approval, they will seek this more from peers. There is no problem with this, but we don’t want them solely reliant on peers for these. It can make them vulnerable to making bad decisions, so as not to lose the approval or ‘everythingness’ of those peers.

If we don’t give enough freedom, they might take that freedom through defiance, secrecy, the forbidden. If we control them, they might seek more to control others, or to let others make the decisions that should be theirs.

All kids will mess up, take risks, keep secrets, and do things that baffle us sometimes. What’s important is, ‘Do they turn to us when they need to, enough?’ The ‘turning to’ starts with trusting that we are interested in supporting all their needs, not just the ones that suit us. Of course this doesn’t mean we will meet every need. It means we’ve shown them that their needs are important to us too, even though sometimes ours will be bigger (such as our need to keep them safe).

They will learn safe and healthy ways to meet their needs, by first having them met by us. This doesn’t mean granting full independence, full freedom, and full approval. What it means is holding them safely while also letting them feel enough of our approval, our willingness to support their independence, freedom, autonomy, and be heard on things that matter to them.

There’s no clear line with this. Some days they’ll want independence. Some days they won’t. Some days they’ll seek our approval. Some days they won’t care for it at all, especially if it means compromising the approval of peers. The challenge for us is knowing when to hold them closer and when to give space, when to hold the boundary and when to release it a little, when to collide and when to step out of the way. If we watch and listen, they will show us. And just like them, we won’t need to get it right all the time.♥️

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