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3 Steps to Achieving Balance as a College Student


Girl balancing on a curb

During the time I’ve been writing for CF, I’ve covered numerous topics relating to college life. Throughout these posts, I’ve done my best to give you tips on everything from saving money, to studying, to partying. But through it all, I’ve emphasized one overriding theme that is the key to success in college: balance.

Sure, it’s nice to have lots of friends and make some great memories, but it’s not worth it if it’s at the expense of your studies. (You are paying to be there, after all.) Likewise, getting straight A’s is always a great goal, but sacrificing everything else college has to offer to achieve them could leave you with regrets come graduation day.

Balance is a great idea, in theory, but just how exactly can you achieve and maintain balance as a busy college student? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and it takes ongoing work, but here are three steps to get you started balancing your priorities in college:

1. Set Your Sights

Girl looking out to the horizon

The first step to balancing all your priorities is defining what, exactly, those priorities are. It sounds simple enough, but it could take some serious thought, and since your priorities will change over time, it helps to sit down once in a while and re-evaluate.

To start, make a list of everything that’s important to you. This list can include school, spending time with friends, part-time jobs, family, fashion, whatever it is that you want to maintain as a priority in your life. Jot it all down, even if it’s something you aren’t good at balancing right now. For example, maybe working out and staying healthy┬áis something that is important to you in theory, but you can never find the time to hit the gym or cook your own meals. Add it to your list, because that’s the first step to making it a priority in your life.

Next, take your list, and organize each item from most important to least important, to really reveal what you value and want to make time for in your life.

2. Schedule It Out

Pink wall calendar

Now that you have all your priorities laid out, it’s time to figure out how to balance them all.

Part of this could include a schedule: Start by laying out all your time for the week, or even the month, and figuring out what needs to get done, when, and what you want to get done, and where you can find the extra time. For example, maybe instead of watching Gossip Girl Monday nights, you can hit the gym then, and catch the episode later online.

When creating your schedule, it helps to be creative and mix things up from your normal routine. Unless you’re 100% satisfied and feel your life is perfectly balanced, moving things around and making some concessions won’t hurt, and you can always go back to your old schedule if you find it worked better.

A schedule isn’t the only strategy you can use to find balance, though. Talking to people about your new goals can help put them into action in more ways than one. First, doing so makes you more accountable so you’ll really put forth the effort to achieve your goals. Second, your friends can help you with areas that may need more filling out. Spending every night in? Ask your party-animal girlfriend to take you to a party on the weekend. Spent too much time socializing? Get your super-smart roommate to help you study for midterms. Wherever you need help balancing, other people can be a great influence.

3. Take Action & Juggle Your Priorities

Girl with balloons

Now it’s time to put your priorities into action. Take a look at that list you made and make a conscious effort every day to try to find a balance between all the parts of your life you find important.

While going through this process, it’s important to tell yourself yes, instead of no, when faced with a new challenge. Take chances, risks, and make a few mistakes until you find the balance that works for you. Maybe you can’t hit the gym five times a week and still do as well as you’d like in school, and that’s okay, but going three times a week is better than not at all, and you would never discover that without pushing yourself to do more.

Sure, this process is a little intimidating, and as I said at the beginning of the post, your priorities are bound to change while you go through it: Maybe that boyfriend who was top priority freshman year will end up being the ex who’s not even on your radar by senior year. Don’t worry – the fact that you’re reading this post, and thinking about how you’d like to achieve balance in your life is a step in the right direction, and all a part of the learning experience of college.

What Do You Think?

Do you have balance in your life, or do you need some help juggling it all? What areas do you think need more attention in your own life? Do you have any strategies for achieving balance? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.

Posted on on November 7, 2010 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , ,

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14 Responses to “3 Steps to Achieving Balance as a College Student”

  1. 1
    November 7th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    This is a fab post.
    I was actually just thinking about this today, after a hectic week where I’ve had to skip the gym in favour of the library. I’ve started to assess what the most important things are and putting them into perspective.
    I also write my to-do list out at the start of every week and then every day I have a daily to-do list which keeps me on track!!

    Charlotte xxx

  2. 2
    November 7th, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Wonderful post. You’re absolutely right, balance is key – but it’s hard to master!
    Thanks for the tips.

  3. 3
    November 7th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I’m a senior and I’m still very much struggling with balance. I’m good at school and can easily balance school and clubs. I have trouble including exercise and a social life. Good post!

  4. 4
    November 7th, 2010 at 10:50 pm



  5. 5
    November 7th, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    When I tried scheduling, I started stressing over seeing everything I had to do. Any advice for that?

  6. 6
    November 7th, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Great post and great advice. I’ve been having trouble balancing school, work and my social life lately, and have been meaning to add going to the gym into the mix as well, so hopefully this will help me get onto the right track.

  7. 7
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Great and much-needed post.
    Balance is the absolute hardest part of life as a newlywed, grad-school collegiate, part-time corporate-job-holding girl. So hard!

  8. 8
    November 9th, 2010 at 2:44 am

    I believe that finding balance is a great thing. Even the attempt is fun, although you have take into consideration a lot of things, but once you set your priorities you learn how to say no to stuff that isn’t important for you. It is hard, but it’s worth the effort. I’m still aplying some time management techniques, but there are a lot of distractions. A student’s life is full of unexpected :))

  9. 9
    November 9th, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Thanks for this post! In face of my impending doom (ie finals), this is timely. Sigh, college life isn’t really that rosy as one assumes sometimes. Wish you had given some more personal advice, maybe from personal experience, though, cuz the advice given is kinda … generic?

    Still, always liked your posts, always will (:

  10. 10
    April 11th, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I found this website to be a very valuable tool for me. It laid out what needs to be done in my life so that I can obtain my degree and not have too much trouble with prioritizing things in my life. Thank you.

  11. 11
    June 17th, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I think in order to achieve balance in school, you have to put first things first. ….and schedule your life, i have a few tips on my site for his.

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