The Balancing Act: Achieving Good Grades and Maintaining Your Sanity

Take Care of Yourself

balanceIf you are reading this, I am willing to bet you take your studies very seriously. You have big plans for the future and you know doing well in school will get you there. You are a student who wants to succeed inside and outside academia. Being a student requires studying. Time management. Organization. A strong work ethic. The list goes on. But here’s the thing, before being a student, you are a person. And people need things. Like sleep. Social support. Good food. Exercise. Did I mention sleep?

You may have heard the classic line, “good grades, a social life, and sleep – in college, you can only pick two.” The truth is, you CAN have all three! The key to personal and academic success in college is balance! Of course, doing well in your classes is the main goal in college, but taking some time for yourself is just as important. Try to look at your studies as a full-time job. If you focus on your academics during your work week, you will have plenty of time left over to enjoy all the fun activities and events that college has to offer. Remember, it is ok to say no to your friends when you have a big test coming up. It is also ok to take breaks from studying to watch your favorite show with your roommates. If you are struggling to find a healthy balance, the trick is to rotate between your academic demands and your personal life. You can have both, but not always at the same time. Keep a healthy balance, and try not to let either side overwhelm you.

College is a very stressful time, there is no denying that. And in a couple weeks, it will be midterm time and you’ll be tempted to pull all-nighters while binge drinking a combination of coffee, energy drinks, and Mountain Dew. Do not do this. Not only will your grades suffer in the long run, but your body and mind will as well.

The first step in integrating self-care into your schedule is knowing what you like to do. For some people, that means going to the gym or going on a run. For other people, that may mean doing an art project. Or going to a church group meeting. Or going out to dinner with a group of friends. Or sleeping for an extra two hours on Sunday morning. Whatever your self-care is, know it, own it, and do it. You are a person. You know what you need to keep your mind healthy. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from being a student and taking some time for yourself.

Schedule Everything

Yes, everything. Get your planner, your calendar, or your favorite time management app and enter in all your due dates from all your course syllabi. If you have reading assignments, enter those, too. Have an ultimate Frisbee tournament coming up? Mark that down. Going home for the weekend to celebrate your brother’s birthday? Yup, put that down, too. This might seem over the top, but if you know what your schedule is ahead of time, it can alleviate a lot of stress. If you have a work schedule, especially one that rotates, this is also good to enter on your favorite organization device.

After you schedule all the constant stuff (things that are less likely to change), plan time for studying, working on projects, and even relaxing. This can be done on a more flexible basis, like the beginning of each week. The worst that can happen if you plan ahead is that you’ll get all your work done and you’ll have free time at the end of the week. Free time? What’s that? Here’s what a weekly schedule might look like:

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Remember to balance everything that you do. It is important not to overload one aspect of your life, whether that be school, work, or fun. It is easy to get too caught up in one area, but you will find that once you find a balance that works for you things will start to flow smoothly and you will enjoy success in all of those areas. If you need some help putting a schedule together, or just aren’t sure where to get started, consider requesting academic coaching from the Academic Achievement Center. One of our Learning Specialists can meet with you to get the organization ball rolling.

The Academic Achievement Center

Kristy Gustavson & Marissa Insinna
Graduate Assistants

Allison Hutchison & Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist

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One thought on “The Balancing Act: Achieving Good Grades and Maintaining Your Sanity

  1. Jen February 9, 2015 at 2:47 pm Reply

    Great tips! I love the example of the schedule. Thanks for posting!

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