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Do You Know How to Balance the Fine Line Between Work and School?

By Diana Zarowin - NYU Graduate

I still remember one of the most accurate things a college mentor of mine told me. He said that the four undergraduate years are practically the only time in one’s life when one has ultimate freedom and very little personal responsibility. Normally, the two run pretty parallel: greater freedom, greater responsibility (in essence, full-fledged adulthood) and less freedom, less responsibility (the opposite end of the spectrum, childhood).

College is like no other time in one’s life – the academics, the friends, the ridiculous amount of fun and opportunity. Striking a balance between excelling in the classroom and creating unforgettable memories  isn’t always easy when there are a myriad of tasks and opportunities in front of you and only 24 hours in a day. That’s where my 5 handy-dandy tips, below, come in. Well, these tips and NextGenVest, of course. Check them out and start striking that perfect balance for yourself!

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To Do Lists

I’m a big fan of to-do lists (and not just because of how good it feels to cross accomplished tasks off…though that is pretty great!). Write down all that you have to do before the week starts and make a clear schedule for yourself, one that has some wiggle room, too,  in case unexpected opportunities or tasks come up. Be sure to include “free time” and “me time” in as to-dos.

Prep in Advance

You won’t always be told about an assignment, quiz, or fun opportunity in advance. Last minute surprises happen often – both good, and bad. But, if you are given notice about something ahead of time, see this as an opportunity to prep for it. Make a schedule for how you’ll complete the deliverable in advance of the due date. Factor in your other commitments and weave your entire schedule together. You’ll be glad you submitted that English paper a week in advance when a friend invites you to a Rangers game the night before the paper is due. Trust me on this one!

Take Advantage of Time Pockets

Because of how little time you will spend in the classroom (relative to other activities and how your day was positioned in school prior), you’ll find yourself having pockets of free time throughout the day. Though it can be tempting to nap or watch Netflix during all breaks (and sometimes that’s exactly what you should do!), take advantage of these free windows to get some extra work done, visit a professor’s office hours, or catch up with a friend over lunch.

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Become BFF with your TAs and Professors

Speaking of office hours…Students don’t often take the time to visit the TA or professor during office hours, though these are prime opportunities to get extra help or stay on track for the semester. You can even do your homework during office hours, if the environment is conducive to it, and have the extra resource of your teacher right near you. Time that is designated to work in this way frees up time later on for other activities and friends. And, if you keep up throughout the semester, you’ll save time later on as midterms and finals approach. Essentially, you’re investing in yourself strategically early on, and it’s very worth it.  

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Designate Part of Your Weekend to Work

I know, I know. This sounds lame. And, maybe it is. But, it works. Weekends in college usually span from Thursday night to Sunday night (and for some lucky upper-class students, Wednesday night to Sunday night). That’s three full days (and a bit more) of time. You can still go out and have fun every single night of your weekend, yet devote a couple of daytime hours to homework/studying/getting ahead on the coming week. There’s nothing worse than a weekend passing you by and starting the new week without the time or prep of a recharge. You’ll be thanking yourself for this during every Monday morning 8 am lecture!

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