The easiest way to prioritize your time appropriately and with maximum positive effect between work, school, and fun is to obtain clear ideas about what your priorities are. If your priorities are to achieve academic success, to maximize income without negatively affecting grades, and to have meaningful opportunities to relax, refresh, and renew yourself, then the following guidelines may prove helpful in your quest for right priorities.
College is a time of flux for many young people. New ideas, new concepts are challenging old ones. New people and potential relationships are vying for time with old ones. Although all of life is a time of change and flux, college can be even more so. Many students forget their true identity: as a student! Colleges accept young people to be students, not partiers, not social butterflies, not athletes (at least, in theory): they accept young people to be students. Students take classes, study, learn, take tests, expand their intellectual life, and experience personal growth on a number of levels. When you remember your primary purpose for being in college, you will find it easier to place study time on the top of the list of priorities. Set boundaries for yourself, as this is the key to developing self-discipline. Never miss class, never miss a study session, always put in adequate prep time. You will always make time to do the things you want to do, so make studying a thing you want to do!
Students work in college for various reasons: to get some pocket money, to supplement the income that a benefactor is giving them, or even to support themselves fully. Depending on the level of need that is present for the income that a part- or full-time job during college can provide, you can then prioritize the hours you will spend at work. Ideally, the balance will be struck between earning the needed amount of money to keep your finance’s afloat and spending the right amount of time studying to keep your grades high.
Fun: what a loaded word! It means so many different things, depending on who you ask. Unfortunately, in American college life today, fun has come to mean ingesting dangerous amounts of intoxicating substances, engaging in promiscuous activities, and performing all sorts of daring actions, and all this in the name of, “It’s college! You only live once! Try new things!” At the risk of sounding like a prude, this attitude that is so prevalent in our society’s collegiate culture is incredibly dangerous and destructive. Have more respect for yourself than to get hammered each night of the week and to have a romantic life flung far and wide across your university town. And if you have trouble adjusting these habits to non-destructive levels, there are professional services and supportive groups that can help you to deal with problems that are getting you down. There’s no shame in getting help so you can be a better you.
That being said, have fun! It is a crucial piece of a healthy life to have time to relax, refresh, and renew. In our culture of go go go, it is forgotten that relaxing is something you actively do, not something that passively happens to you in your spare time. Go to a concert, spend time with friends, read a book that is not school-related, exercise, go dancing – there are so many ways to have fun. University towns usually have ample venues at which to do all of these things. Schedule time to relax; your productivity in your working hours will reflect it.
Hopefully these ideas will help you to set priorities that lead to your being a healthy, happy, and productive student. But as always, try them in the crucible of experience, and if they don’t work, trade them out for some that do!