Finding Balance in College: Tips for Maintaining Grades, a Social Life, and Sleep

Finding Balance in College: Tips for Maintaining Grades, a Social Life, and Sleep

I feel compelled to author this post due to my own personal struggle that is becoming more and more real every day this semester – that I’m a college student wanting to have fun, ace my classes, and get 8 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, striking a balance in college between the three is nearly impossible.

The beginning of this semester has been amazing; I’ve had the most fun with friends, I’m still going strong in my classes, and I usually get to bed by midnight, which is a success to me. But it has also been the most difficult semester to keep up a balance that works for me! So I thought I would share some of my tips I’ve tried to employ in my college career for keeping up my grades, having a social life, and of course getting those much needed zzz’s.


  • Plan EVERYTHING! — When I say plan everything, I mean as much as you can possibly plan so that everything you need to do is in front of you, on paper. I like keep a journal and write out my schedule for the next day before I go to sleep every night. This means classes, meal times, club meetings, going to the gym – literally anything. Writing everything out on paper helps me remember what I need to do and keep me on a schedule throughout the day. Trying to juggle everything in your head is not as efficient as taking a minute to write it down!


  • Look Ahead — This tip is in conjunction with the previous, but is more helpful in looking at the bigger picture of your semester. I am not one to study for a test two weeks before, but if I can plan ahead even a few days, I find that helps me feel confident about the material on test day, and confidence is half the battle. Looking ahead will also benefit other aspects of your life, like your social life, when you’re trying to decide if going out with friends is the best idea at that time. Having a good grasp of what you have going on will make balancing going out and getting the grades you want a lot easier.


  • Utilize the Bedtime App — I love the Bedtime feature on the iPhone clock app. I know not everyone has an iPhone, but I recommend finding any type of app or device that tells you how much sleep you’re getting and reminds you to go to bed before you get carried away watching Netflix or doing homework. My Bedtime app shows me how many hours I’m getting, has a great, non-abrasive ringtone to wake up to, and reminds me 30 minutes before the bedtime I set for myself that it is coming up. Having resources that help you regulate certain aspects of your life and give you those little reminders will help you feel less stressed and more in control of all of the things you have going on.


  • Prioritizing is Your Best Friend — To me, prioritizing is much easier said than done and I continue to struggle with it to keep myself from procrastinating. I very much prefer dealing with lots of small tasks over bigger, long-term ones, so I tend to prioritize all of the little things on my to-do list until those big things I’ve been avoiding creep up on me! If you can find a way to dedicate some time to those bigger, long-term tasks, maybe by scheduling time each day to work on them, then overall you will be better set to dedicate your time to other areas of your life and not stress about these things last minute! If you have the opposite problem and you tend to work a ton on the big stuff, but ignore your smaller tasks, try to set a goal for the day to get 2 small tasks done and increase that goal as you go along so that you strike a balance between what types of assignments, applications, etc. that you are working on.


  • Become a Morning Person — Again, MUCH easier said than done. I walked into this semester ready to wake up early, hit the gym, and start off every day on a good foot. This has not been the case in practice! I’m not saying it can’t be done, but this will take some discipline if you are more of a night owl like me. To me, harnessing your mornings has a domino effect, making everything else about your day easier to handle and making your nights more restful. Doing homework is best in the morning, right after a good workout or a hearty breakfast, because you’re at your most refreshed point of the day. Your focus is heightened and you aren’t tired like you are at 1 in the morning when you would usually choose to start a homework assignment. Getting to bed earlier to wake up in the morning is also more beneficial for your sleep cycle, since going to bed when the sun goes down and not when it is coming up is what our body and mind expects of us.


  • Dedicate Time and Space to Study — This is probably obvious advice in terms of those struggling to keep their academics up, but what I most want to emphasize here is that not only should you put aside a set amount of time to study and do homework, but you should dedicate a space for it as well. I love to do homework in my room, but it is also a place where I have the most distractions at my fingertips – my phone, my laptop, food – anything really. So capitalize on the time you set aside to study by finding a space where you will be laser-focused. Otherwise, you’ll be using your time to study for other things and then have to catch up later. Why not get it done in one fell swoop?


  • Pick and Choose Your Social Outings — When I got to school, I didn’t even have social outings to go on (thanks to my introverted freshman self). More and more I have made new friends, signed up for cool things around campus, joined more clubs and it has become increasingly difficult with this newfound social life to keep up with my other objectives – mainly sleep. So, to me, there’s no harm in picking and choosing when to go out and when to stay in. Most of the time, I prefer having time to myself and I think it is important in college to have that! Being social and going out is beneficial, until it isn’t. Know your limits and know what’s going on in your life so you can plan around the times you do go out and know when you should turn down the opportunity in order to keep yourself on track with all of your different goals.


  • Find Your Stress Reliever — For some it’s yoga, for others it’s listening to music. This post is all about tips to help you practically balance different aspects of your college life, but what these imbalances cause is a whole lot of stress! If you can find a way to release your stress and set aside time for yourself to regroup when you have a lot going on, you are going to indirectly add more balance to your life. Some of my favorite stress relievers? Yoga, Hiking, Spinning, Watching Reality TV, Reading Outside. And if you can’t find a way out of the stress and seriously need help, go to the counseling center that is on your campus! They have resources for even the smallest of problems college students face and talking to a counselor might just be your best stress reliever.

I hope some of these tips can help you, especially through this mid-semester hump! Don’t forget to pin this post, subscribe to my blog, and come back next Friday for a new post!

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— M


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