How to Balance the Serious and Fun Parts of College

By Paige Captain on July 25, 2017

Something that is so interesting about college is the way that it’s a time to have fun …

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… but also a time when you are transitioning into adulthood.

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One of my friends who I’ve known since kindergarten, Alexa Eilerts, has always seemed to balance these two opposites very well — even in high school. Now she attends Chapman University, has done a very good job at networking, and is on track to graduate a semester early.

I interviewed Eilerts this past week about her personal college experience and how she manages to balance the fun and serious parts of being a college student. I asked her to tell me about choices she’s made (good and bad) and how she has learned from them. Here is what she had to say:

“First off, I want to say that a lot of students I know haven’t yet figured out how to balance the fun and serious aspects of the college experience … most spend much more of their time at events and hangouts with their sororities and on late night pizza runs with dorm roommates only to sleep in late and miss class the next day.

I myself struggled throughout my first two years at college with the amount of freedom my new lifestyle gave me. While in high school I had class from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then after school sports until 6 p.m., my new class schedule at the university allowed me to sleep in every day until almost 11 a.m.

I vowed I’d set my alarm at 9 a.m. to beat the breakfast crowd at the cafeteria and head to the gym before class, but I rarely did. There was also freedom when it came to class — I was no longer obligated to attend and most of the work was due at the end of the semester instead of daily homework assignments. I found myself struggling to make the right choices to get up early, study, and go to class on time because there were just so many opportunities to do something way more fun instead since college presented for me a whole lot of new people and fun campus events almost every night.

I survived my first year okay and even came out on the Dean’s List my first semester as I was still taking some GE classes. My second semester was a bit harder because I decided that since I had done so well the first semester, I should take a full schedule of classes. Now I was in actual business and accounting classes for my major and things were getting serious.

Most of my classes were made up of three exams and participation and full of older students. I think now looking back that my main problem was my attitude. I thought that I could still do well even if I didn’t go to class or study as much as someone else just because I was smarter or memorized things better.

Needless to say, that attitude didn’t get me on the Dean’s List again, but my ambition to have my degree in three years while working two jobs outside of class got me an internship with one of the world’s largest accounting firms. After receiving the offer last August for an eight week, highly paid job this summer, I felt as though I really was smarter and better than my peers who put in the class participation and were always in the library studying.

I started my sophomore year with the maximum amount of classes I could take as a second-year student in junior-level classes. But these courses weren’t like the previous years; instead, they required my full attention, with large group projects and weekly online homework that I couldn’t always make the time to complete. By this time, I was tutoring on campus 10 hours a week, working at a restaurant on the weekends, and had recently moved into a house off campus and got a boyfriend.

I truly didn’t want to acknowledge that I couldn’t do it all — I even tried to join a sorority until I looked at my commitments and realized I couldn’t even make a weekly meeting.”

I hope Alexa’s words are encouraging and if nothing else, make you feel like you aren’t alone in these struggles!

I wanted to end this article by also adding my own take on the subject matter. I know it may sound vague or obvious but I really think the key to balancing the serious and fun parts of college is just that: balance. If you focus too much on life after college, you miss out on actually experiencing college. On the other hand, if you only focus on the fun and social aspects of college, you miss out on the way college prepares you for the future.

However, I do want to make a disclaimer. If you are someone who truly enjoys focusing on the academic, business, and serious aspects of college, then I really would like to encourage you to do that! Or if you’re someone who feels like they can still learn and maintain good grades while also being extremely social, then do that! I just think it can be easy to get caught up in one or the other so it is important to stay mindful of that.

Thanks for reading!

-Paige

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