Life Is About Balance
You have the rest of your life to work, but you only get to be in college once (hopefully).
By Karen Juarez, University of Illinois at Chicago
Spring Break, as the legends have told, is the most glorious week of your college career.
Countless stories surround your last weeklong debauch, at least until a bigger and better one comes around. Beer, beaches and the sun sound way better than a daily two-hour commute on a cold, rainy Monday morning. But, why should you wait till halfway through the semester to party?You work hard, so you need to start playing just as hard.
It’s stressful trying to balance a full schedule of classes, work and homework, and when everyone is so busy, their social lives can be just as stressful as school. As a result, people need parties to let themselves go.
Instead of seeing going out as just young people acting irresponsibly, critics need to see having a good time for what it is—a stress reliever and social tool for students.
Would doing work without a reward be fulfilling? From the perspective of a student, finishing schoolwork so I can relax is my primary motivation. So why not upgrade from Netflix to living it up with friends?
Somewhere during your college experience, there’s probably been an epic party that you missed because you had to study on a Saturday. Maybe if you had studied on Thursday night instead of religiously tending to your Netflix account though, you would have Saturday free and could have gone out with your friends.
When it comes to going out, there is no rule that says partying and hard work are mutually exclusive. In fact, in a perfect world, they work together. Your motivation to work diligently during the week should be a weekend of freedom
Daily study sessions, as small as they seem, are something you will thank yourself for after taking a test. By studying daily, you avoid cramming, which has been proven to be counterproductive, as if you didn’t know that already.
The free time you gain by doing your homework during the week, although tiring, is worth the payoff of your weekend being free. And besides, if you’re going to be awake on a Saturday, wouldn’t it be better to be de-stressing than loathing yourself because you haven’t started studying?
Students should keep in mind that they will only be an undergrad once, so they should try and do as many new things as possible. I never attended any school dances other than prom in high school, but this year I went out on a whim and tried out homecoming. And guess what? I enjoyed it.
Being from a very strict household, I was also never allowed to sleep over at any of my friend’s houses. Sleeping over was also something I enjoying doing for the first time. The experience allowed me to feel like I could finally fit into society.
College should be a time for making memories with friends. By memories, I don’t mean the time your professor confused everyone in French class. Yes, although the point of school is to study, you can make memories outside of the generic “you and your buddies struggling to understand organic chemistry.”
Small things, like getting coffee together, sending encouraging messages and Snapchats, are all still memories, regardless of their size. One of the first memories I have of when I started college was getting dinner with my classmates, because everyone was starving after our 6 p.m. class. Everyone had their lives torn apart by an exam, so the small little failure party we held afterward cheered us up.
And while small, friendship memories are great a lot of the time, there’s also a lot to be said for just getting wasted and enjoying the recklessness that you only really get to experience in college. Is it the smartest idea in the world? No, but you’re young, it’s a rite of passage and you’ll be a lot happier knowing that you tried and hated it, rather than having never tried it at all.
Also, breaks don’t necessarily have to be only during the times school plans them. Take a weekend off of work—nap, party, hike, whatever you want. Some schools, like mine, have really late breaks, and since you don’t get any say in when school stops and starts, feel free to plan according to your own schedule. You have the advantage of having a syllabus, so you know exactly what is due and when.
If you want to take a week off during the semester and go on a vacation, no one is stopping you.
Personally, I like to plan two breaks for myself: One around a third of the way through the semester, and the other for Spring Break. Avoid planning breaks that fall near midterms, because you don’t want to cause any undue stress, and really aim to capitalize on three-day weekends. If your Friday classes are already kind of a joke, why not skip and upgrade to a four-day weekend?
Another reason to cut yourself some slack is that, unless you go into education, graduation means the end of your spring, winter and summer breaks. Joining the workforce means you only get vacations when possible, and those vacations never have a set date.
Being a student may easily be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done in your life. Being expected to go to school without taking any breaks, especially if you have a job, is difficult; you’ve never done anything like college before. So, even if you have to drag your body through the last week before break, it’ll be worth the effort.
If you still don’t believe me, just remember, even though adults do get weekends off, when was the last time they got to put life on hold for anything longer than a three-day weekend?