Many university students will tell you that the toughest part of studying is finding a way to balance all of the important aspects of your life — work, university, the occasional internship, social life, and something many people forget about – your health. As a student in the final year of my degree, I feel I’ve learnt a few tricks about keeping a successful balance – mostly through repeated failure. I thought I’d share some of these tricks here, in the hopes that some people will learn from the mistakes I made throughout my degree.
1. There is no true balance
Alright, now don’t get mad, but this is the first thing you’ll need to realise about studying tertiary education.
This doesn’t mean that you need to cut out your social life, or stop working – it means that on a day-to-day (or even weekly) basis, you might not have an equal share of each of these activities. Some weeks, you might have to hunker down and work the whole time – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t spend the whole next week going out, or sleeping (remember the health part?). It’s important to remember that “fun” won’t be part of your full time vocabulary, but likewise, that doesn’t mean that every day has to be spent with your nose to the grindstone.
2. Don’t let things sneak up on you
The easiest way to stress yourself out is by leaving everything to the last minute (something I’m constantly guilty of), and many would tell you that starting assignments early will make your life so much easier.
Of course this is true, but who has that sort of motivation? Not me, that’s for sure.
So for those of us that work best while burning the midnight oil, my advice is to constantly be aware of upcoming assessment, and other commitments.
Start thinking about what you’ll need to do, and the amount of time this will take you, and check blackboard EVERY DAY. Nine out of ten times, you can open it up, see there’s no new announcements and close it down again. But if you keep this as part of your routine, you’ll never have a surprise ‘due tomorrow/do tomorrow’ assignment again.
3. Prioritise your health
This is, in my eyes, by far the most important piece of advice. There are times where finding the right balance between each facet of your life can be incredibly stressful and emotionally exhausting.
If everything is becoming a bit much — slow down.
Think about your commitments, and if you have to, cut one off. That doesn’t mean dropping out of a subject because you have three parties and one assignment due on the same weekend, and it definitely doesn’t mean you have an excuse not to try your best.
But it could mean changing from full time study to part time study, or applying for an extension for an assignment due to mental health. It’s important to remember that you’re not the only one feeling the pressure of university life, and there are facilities in place to help anyone who’s struggling.
So those are my top three tips for coping with university life, and making sure it doesn’t take over your ‘normal’ life. These are the things I wish people had told me before I started university, and whilst everyone is different, I hope they might help you too.
By Tom Clifford