The University Balancing Act

When Even Study Schedules and All-Nighters Aren’t Enough


Hello, dear reader. I’m sure that you know just as well as I do that University isn’t as easy as shows like “Community” or “Pitch Perfect” make it seem. Sure, we have the opportunity to make meaningful connection and memories throughout our time here, but these instances always seem to be amidst trying to stay afloat with papers and midterms and extra-curriculars and jobs and worrying about summer…need I go on?  

I have seen countless friends struggle with this balancing act, and it’s unfortunate that we all seem doomed to repeat it over and over despite our best efforts. No matter how early we start our major research papers or how late we stay up finishing our reports and assignments, we never get a chance to catch our breath as there is always more work to be done. While we can take some solace in having fall break and reading week as times to catch up and recuperate, there seems to be a growing trend of using those periods to assign extra work or schedule a midterm directly after because we now “have the spare time”. Sadly, this practice often undermines the point of having this time off and only increases our levels of stress and fatigue

Perhaps the title of this editorial is slightly misleading, as I don’t actually have an answer to solve our struggle for balance and survival. I myself have felt the pressure of looming deadlines and an excess of commitments, and I have yet to discover the magic solution to make things more manageable and less overwhelming.However, I did want to share some ways in which I have altered my way of thinking about university and fulfilling all of my commitments, and perhaps they might be helpful to you. Or, maybe they won’t and you will just use this issue of the Dag to make some paper maché maracas. Hey, whatever it takes to be creative nowadays, am I right?

First of all, I want to say that that triangle infographic thing that essentially states University Life: sleep, good grades, social life, you can pick 2, is absolute BS. It is not unreasonable to expect that you should be able to successfully maintain all three while going to university, as long as you are willing to work hard to make it happen. Time management is key, however you will have to experiment and decide for yourself what works for you. There is no set amount of time you should be allocating to each of these three aspects of your university life, although PLEASE try to avoid throwing sleep to the wayside even though it might seem like the easiest thing to give up (I am a bad culprit of this as well).

Related to that point, always make some time to spend with friends and with yourself. No matter how busy you are, having a quick coffee date with a friend or taking 30 minutes to watch your favourite Golden Girls episode will do wonders for your mental health and pay off in productivity in the long run. As cliché as it might sound, university is just as much about the experience as it is about the grades and the assignments. That being said, I don’t recommend getting wasted the night before your Molecular Cell Biology midterm simply for the “experience”…

Finally, try to keep in mind that “no” is not the dirty taboo word that we sometimes think. I am so happy for all of the opportunities that I have had throughout university, but I have also learned that turning things down helps avoid over-commitment and makes the experiences you do have that much more enjoyable. And who knows, often times the opportunities that we turn down have a way of reappearing in one for or another.

And with those thoughts, I wish you luck in writing that paper or studying for that exam or making those maracas; whatever it is that you have been putting off by reading this!

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