All work and no play make John a dull boy. It’s as true in college as it is in the real world. You need some downtime, to decompress and refresh yourselves as the rigors of the day, the same as you would as if you spent the day at physical labor. Working with your brain is work, too.
Unfortunately, too many college students forget that their job, while a student, is to be a student. They need to attend classes, do their homework, do their research projects, and finally study. This is their primary job.
But the freedom of college lures many students into the dark side. Parties, clubbing, drinking, and sex casts a pall over the higher purposes of school. Besides the hard partying scenes, there are the more subtle, but equally ruinous wastes of time and focus, small addictions and diversions that can damage a college career as quickly as drugs and alcohol.
I never joined any party scenes during my college years. I went to a few parties, did a very limited amount of drinking, never got drunk, but I had other problems, and they did plenty of damage to my college career. I did a lot of trouble with computer games. One particularly embarrassing episode came on the eve of my first major exam in public affairs reporting. My instructor hosted a pre-test study session, basically handing us the exam on a silver platter. I felt so ready for the test I went back to my room to study. Except, first, I’d play a little Minesweeper. Just one more game. Just one more game.
Three hours later, I still hadn’t studied. When I crept into bed, I realized what an idiot I’d been. I got a C- minus on the test. I was humiliated. Did I learn my lesson? Hell, no!
Later on, I got hooked on the real-time strategy game Dune: The Battle for Arrakis. I’d skip meals to play this game. Needless to say, I’d also skip studying and taking photographs for this game. My grades proved it.
Discipline yourself against these stupid mistakes. One of my favorite lines from Dune is the first step of avoiding a trap is knowledge of its existence. In student life, that means don’t get involved with the hard partying scenes. Don’t drink, period. That’s almost considered heresy, but it will save you a lot of pain in the long run. Drinking and school just shouldn’t mix.
Next, guard yourself against the little time wasters. If a game or hobby entices you, set a clock and allow yourself only a set time to dedicate to it. Depending on your school schedule and the workload your professors give you, get your assignments done first, then go have fun. (Some professors give constant homework and expect you to turn it in with each class, others could care less about it, so learn early on what your professors expect from you.) Developing a strong study ethic will also save you.
Finally, take pleasure in the little things. Getting a quick refresh from a nice view, a quiet moment, or a simple song will be a better benefit than a party. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional celebration, but school does come first.