Balancing college life crucial to success

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BY TYSON NAFUS

College is an integral part of any modern student’s experience, though not always for the academic reasons.  Here, you meet people outside the realm of your home town with differing viewpoints and some who know awesome party tricks.  It’s almost become expected that bonds of friendship or more develop at higher institutions.  However, there is a balance that should be kept between the growing social interactions that give you life-long friends and the ever-present class work that gives you a continuing reason to be here.

Remember, despite whatever colleagues in the adjacent dorm rooms may claim, classes come first.  Some people find that when approached by peers to go to a social event (for instance, a really great party), saying no even when a paper is due in the morning is nigh-impossible.  This is the first test of cohabitation.  Half the people who are laughing and joining in the fun actually did get their homework done first, believe it or not.  At least I hope so, otherwise the number of third-year freshmen is going to have an incredible spike in a few years.  Getting the work lined up ahead of time saves tons of midnight oil later on.

Aside from working ahead, there’s also great importance in becoming involved. When I say that homework comes first, I’m not implying that you should become an academic mole, hiding from daylight and grinding out paper after paper.  That’s what graduate school is for.  For undergraduates, pace is very important.  The chance of burnout occurring in undergraduates can be increased equally by an overly-busy social schedule and a complete lack of one.  Human beings are social animals, as noted by the popularity of Facebook and lunchroom study groups.  Use more of the latter and you’re well on your way to undergraduate success.

So, why do I bring this up?  Traditionally, an obligation falls on those with experience to tell others how to avoid certain pitfalls and dangers they may otherwise be unaware of.  I’m a second-time student, and my first trip through this campus, I ignored the social aspect completely, thinking it would only distract me.  My assumption that social obligations would draw me away from what work I needed to do was the worst conclusion I ever reached.

Many students here come to learn, and it brings a feeling of accomplishment when a new concept is actually acquired.  It’s a shared experience, a collective “aha!” when the entire classroom lights up from understanding a professor’s metaphor.  That shared discovery and growth is integral to societal evolution, and that in part is why the physical classroom will be around for a good long while (that and irrational elements like tradition that leave students like me forever wanting to sit in the room with a professor, who is trying desperately to get anyone out there to talk).  So, my advice: be part of something that makes you feel you belong here.  Statistics show involvement increases the likelihood of enjoying yourself despite the exams.