Balancing College With Friends and Work

By Kelly Burch

Before you arrived on campus, you were probably excited about the level of freedom you’ll have at college. Yet managing all the areas of your life and striking a balance without anyone else telling you what to do—maybe for the first time ever—can be overwhelming. It’s easy for your life to tip out of balance. 

You may notice that your grades dip when you pick up more hours at work or that your social life tanks when you spend more time studying. Sometimes sports practice or even partying may take away from other areas of your life. You may struggle to make new friends while keeping in touch with your childhood friends or family. 

It’s hard to define balance. A balanced life is super individualized. You and your roommate may have very different ideas of what it means, for instance, but you’ll know when your life feels unbalanced. When that happens, take some time to think about what feels off and find your balance again. 

Try these tips for finding balance in college.

Define Your Goals

Before you can rebalance your life, you have to name the problem. What do you have too much of? It could be stress, social time, study time, or work. What do you want more of? It may include alone time, physical activity, time with friends, or anything else. Once you know what’s off, you’ll be able to correct it.

Let Yourself Be Imperfect

It’s impossible to be perfect at anything, let alone everything. Trying to be the ideal student or athlete can take up tons of your time and energy. Accept that it’s OK to be “good enough.” You can still excel without being at the top of the class or the front of the pack all the time. 

Make a Schedule

Sometimes making a schedule can help you rebalance your days. Put in time for school, studying, and work, but also block off hours to spend with friends and time to be alone. 

Learn more about time management and how it can help you feel balanced

Say No

We all want to have fun with our friends whenever we can, but to live a balanced life you have to say no every now and then. Maybe you skip a night out with friends because you just need to recharge in front of Netflix or a video game, or you tell your parents you can’t come visit this weekend because you have to complete a school project. Saying no can be tricky, so check out these tips for tough conversations.

Say Yes

Saying no is important, but you should also say yes. Try new experiences and give yourself the chance to step outside your comfort zone. Have lunch with a student from your math class, volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about, or try a new sport on a club team.

Practice Mindfulness

Having a lot to do is stressful. You don’t want to be thinking about your team while you’re trying to study or be worried about your boss when you’re supporting a friend through a breakup. Instead, you want to be present where you are. That’s easier when you know you’ve given yourself time for all the important things in your life. Mindfulness can also help; learn more about using mindfulness on campus

Just like when you were a kid learning to ride a bike, finding balance on campus will take some time. Be patient with yourself and expect a few mistakes along the way. Keep practicing self-care. Managing the demands of school, work, family, and friends is a lifelong challenge, but it gets easier with practice.

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