Whenever someone asks about my schedule or what I do with my free time, the first thing that pops into my mind is to say that I have no free time but that there’s a method to the madness. My sophomore year has in many ways been my busiest year at Boston College, yet it’s also been my best academically so far and my most enjoyable. When the year began, I told myself that I wouldn’t repeat the mistake of my freshman year of joining too many clubs and not being able to focus on academics, yet as the year progressed responsibilities and opportunities were being thrown at me from each angle. I was chosen to become a resident assistant, coming into an executive board position for an organization, and got into a yearlong service learning course where I was required to volunteer 10 hours a week at a placement in Boston at the start of last semester. To add a pinch of challenge to my schedule, I kept my work study job in the athletics video department and set a goal to get as close to a 4.0 as possible. Academically and socially, I should not have been able to succeed with all that was on my plate, yet I somehow managed to keep myself and GPA intact. How did I balance my academic and social life? We’ll both figure that out at the end of this piece but I’ll start with blur that was freshman year.
Coming into Boston College, I thought I could build my resume with some clubs, make some friends, and get good grades without breaking a sweat just like high school. What I didn’t count on was falling for the freshman trap of getting over committed with clubs and thinking that I could apply the same amount of work and study time I did in high school to a highly ranked and prestigious university. Socially, I got my name out on campus by getting involved in the marching band, a school newspaper, and residence hall council, but academically I was struggling to keep afloat. By the end of my freshman year, I had a lot of experiences to talk about on my resume, but my GPA was not where I wanted it to be. Getting involved on campus is always a good thing and is part of the college experience, yet I had to learn the hard way the price of getting too involved.
Coming into my sophomore year, I planned to be only involved in one club as an executive member and focus more on academics until I was called off the alternate to be a resident assistant over the summer and the waiting list for the service learning class I wanted to do since visiting BC in high school. If being a sophomore wasn’t challenging enough, I accepted the offers to live on a hall with first year students seeking my guidance and to tutor third graders twice a week as part of my service. The added responsibilities forced me to do a better job at managing my time during the day, by allotting time to study and to do homework. Whenever I felt too much like a hermit stuck in my room reading Plato or Noam Chomsky, I spent time socializing with residents in my building playing Super Smash Bros, telling funny stories, and eating Chinese takeout with guys on my floor at the oddest times of night. While playing video games and having Chinese food at 2:00 am on a weekend or weekday sometimes may not seem like the most productive or healthiest form of self-care, I definitely helped to calm my mind and balance my different roles. Even as hectic as my schedule became, I made it a thing to make time for social interaction and relaxation with those that were already around me and kept track of deadlines for different tasks by keeping reminders to finish one or two assignments a day. Finding the perfect balance for academics and social life comes with a lot of patience and the ability to set goals that only come naturally once you stop trying to do too much of one thing or everything. I’ve yet to have found a perfect balance, yet I’ve been able to do all that needed to be accomplished this year and some bonuses like securing a paid position in a summer program and hosting my own event on campus with a representative from the Boston Bruins. As I tell myself looking at my schedule, there’s a method to the madness and for those preparing to go to college you’ll face plenty of madness during your first year academically and socially, but you can find a method that works best for you as you did in high school.