Originally Posted: Feb 21, 2017
Last Updated: Aug 14, 2019
You’re going to have a lot going on as a college freshman. A. Lot. So how do you find time for it all? How do you balance your freshman year schedule and responsibilities? Start here.
Going to college is one of the most exciting times in a person's life. For many young people, it is their first taste of independence. They can meet like-minded people, explore different facets of their personality, and make lots of life-long memories. However, while many great college memories come out of socializing, the most important thing to keep in mind is the diploma waiting at the end of it all. After all, you don’t want to pay—or go into debt—for post-class hangouts and weekend parties.
As you get ready for freshman year of college, keep these tips in mind so you know how to balance your school work with your social life.
You’re going to have lots and lots of opportunities to hang out and do fun stuff throughout freshman year. But before you make any decisions, try to think about how it will affect your studies. Make sure that you have your assignments completed in a timely manner and that you are setting a solid curfew for yourself.
For instance, imagine you’re hanging out with friends the night before an 8:30 am class. You look at your phone and are surprised to see it's already past midnight. It’s easy to shrug it off and decide to keep partying—it’s just one class, right? Who cares if you’re late or miss it altogether? But you might have a professor with a strict attendance policy. Or you might miss important info for the midterm. And if you make a habit of missing this early class, it can really build up and be hugely detrimental to your grade—never mind the potential for making a good impression on your professor, who might’ve been a helpful mentor or even recommendation writer for scholarships or grad school.
Be friends with people who are focused on school
Obviously, there's no way to determine for sure who is and who isn't academically inclined in college, especially when you’re all brand-new freshmen. But it shouldn't take long for you to realize who's there for a degree and who's there to goof around. If you have friends who are more interested in partying than studying, then there's a good chance they will bring you down to their level, whether you like it or not.
Remember: even very intelligent people can have trouble in college because they don't realize that intelligence is only part of what it takes to succeed. To do well in college, your most important attribute is discipline.
Have designated study time
College is different from high school in that you're not going to be in class all day, every day. This means you'll have a lot of free time, perhaps more than you'll know what to do with. If you want to stay ahead in your classes, you need to spend time devoted to them outside of the lecture halls as well. So take a look at your schedule and determine when you are able to squeeze in time for reviewing or completing assignments. Adjust it as necessary, but make sure you aren't finding excuses for yourself to not study.
Designated study times can also help you devote your full attention to the matter. Turn off the TV, maybe go to the library, and—most importantly—shut off your phone. Social media is pretty much an addiction, and the temptation is real. But if you can put the phone away for your entire study session, you will be amazed how much more focused you are. Remember, your grades can affect your future, especially in the classes that pertain to your major. You can take your Snapchat selfies when you’re done studying; it’s not going anywhere.
Make social plans in advance
Sometimes, you’re going to drop everything to go out and have fun. This is totally acceptable in limited doses. For the most part, though, you should plan ahead. This basically pertains to everything in your schedule: classes, deadlines for assignments, work shifts, family responsibilities, etc. If you try to make social plans in advance too, it’ll be easier to get your homework done around those events.
As a college student, you will have a good amount of free time, but you'll also realize how important proper preparation is. Otherwise, you'll find yourself easily swayed into just about any invitation. Then, you'll lose the sense of responsibility needed to succeed in college. Or worse: you'll never actually gain it.
How are you balancing your work and free time in college? Or if you’re not in college yet, are you concerned about fitting everything in? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.