Finding your balance

Graphic by Shannon Millar

Graphic by Shannon Millar

It’s late at night, three days before a major essay is due — you know, the one you haven’t yet started. Around the same time you logistically decide to stay in for the night and get some work done, your roommates start getting loud and blasting music, which normally means one thing: they’re going out.

Now, let’s be honest here, whether you initially admit it or not, it also means there’s a chance you’re riding along with them. Saddle up.

“Why not?” you’ll eventually say, right before it’s too late. After all, you’ve earned it, and there will be plenty of time later to stress about your untouched assignment — like the night before it’s due when you are four energy drinks deep with 800 words to go. You might even try to convince yourself that even though you’d be joining your friends at the bar, you won’t have a single drink and you’ll leave early.

Next thing you know, it’s 2:30 a.m.. You’ve had five Jaeger-bombs too many and you’re inebriated enough to forget your last name.

As you could probably tell, the direct specificities of this little scenario pretty much scream out that I speak from experience. And with experience comes lessons learned.

The struggle to juggle between your education and having a social life is perhaps the most ancient struggle amongst the student body.

When I first came to Wilfrid Laurier University, I, like many others, had some initial trouble adapting to the constant urge to party and the rising waves of academics, which threatened to throw me overboard on the voyage of my education. As a result, my marks began to suffer.

At first glance, a decline in academic performance can be excused as a simple matter of difficulty. Sure, university is a new ball game ­— marks will drop. Do what you can and move on. But deep down I realized it was rather a matter of commitment. I wasn’t performing to my best ability. Simply put: my head was in the wrong place.

Now, there are some extreme paths a student may take in a desperate attempt to boost their grades. Some may spend every waking second in the library, canceling out reality, living life through the confines of textbook memorization and endless note review, all driven by an excessive and unwavering devotion to the rise of their all-mighty education.

Sure, this can be seen as a positive level of dedication, but — much like doing the opposite and going out every night while consuming exorbitant amounts of alcohol — immoderateness is undeniably unhealthy. My opinion is simple: put in the time to do well, not your entire existence.

I’m not talking about cramming in all-nighters in the library during exam week or sitting at a desk all day when you type up a study sheet. Sure, you’re putting in time, but it’s a little like sitting in an airplane and waiting nervously for the flight to land; everything is out of your control and there’s always the haunting thought that you may crash.

On the contrary, I’m talking about spending an hour or more every day, even weeks before assignments are due and becoming the pilot of your own plane.

Whether it’s arranging to meet with your professor early before the due date to make sure everything’s on track, briefly reviewing lecture notes at the end of every day, or making study calendars to balance your time more efficiently, preparation comes a long way when it comes to juggling student life.

As a result of these preparative changes, my marks have substantially improved — all while managing to go out with friends and making life more worth living(maybe holding off on the Jaeger-bombs though).

For a lot of students, school isn’t a breeze: it’s a slamming wind that can throw you off your feet. Just remember to keep your feet strongly planted, and, just like having a drink every once in a while, don’t forget to inhale the fresh air.

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