I’m smiling a little as I write, because this is a topic I’ve had to learn through tested disaster. It’s something I began to figure out as I started to grasp what my priorities were in college. The reason I’m in college is to study, to gather an education that not only gives me information, but also transforms and challenges my personal thoughts. The two departments that have become my life here at Nyack College, the Education and English Departments, have a real understanding of how to teach students in a personally challenging way.
Through all of this, it is my prayer that we may serve Christ through our academics, as we holistically serve Christ in and out of church buildings and worships services. I came to college with this belief, but I also came to college wanting to make friends. This became a conflict. My first semester I struggled between spending the majority of my time in the library and trying to hang out with friends. I want to share a couple things I learned about balancing the two:
- You’re a Student First, Social Butterfly Second: I am so glad you have friends, but if your grades begin to slip because time with friends is cutting into study time, then reflect on your priorities. Your decisions in this area can decide issues about scholarships, whether or not you will be allowed to remain in your major, or even if you will be able to stay at school. Think about it.
- Relationships are Important: Alas, I must admit that I am an introvert. Some people are surprised at this, but it’s true. I can spend an entire day by myself and be content, but college has taught me the value of relationships. Find friends. Find a few good ones who don’t drag you down. Find friends who think being a student is important too. People tend to rub off on each other.
- Figure Out Who You Can Study With: I made mistakes with this my first semester. People would be like, “yo, you wanna study with us tonight?”, and I would beam and say “yes”. We would usually end up watching more Youtube videos on cats than doing homework. As my major began to require more work, I realized this wouldn’t work. I really enjoyed these people, but studying with them became unrealistic. Hanging out with them was fine, but it was better to leave the textbooks in my room when they asked me to study.
- Headphones and Soundtracks: I discovered that putting in your headphones and listening to movie soundtracks, was an excellent way to be able to study in groups and still be productive. Three-fourth’s of my college homework has probably been to “Concerning Hobbits” on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Embarrassing Truth.
- Separate Study and Hangout Times: There are times when you need to focus and study. No talking. However, there are also times when you need to hangout with people, fully look them in the face, and have an undistracted conversation. Homework can distract from this. This is why I decided to never (almost never) bring homework into the cafeteria. I wanted time to focus on people, not textbooks.
Friends are one of the best parts about college, and your experiences with them are what you’ll remember after graduation. My advice is to keep your friends and your schoolwork in balance. If one area of your life is negatively affecting the other area, than have an honest time of reflection with yourself. Make changes. I messed up a lot in this area my first couple semesters, but eventually I began to get it. Balance having fun in college and studying can be difficult, but completely and totally worth it.