Ask a fifth-year: Avoiding over-involvement

Dear Sarah,

 I know it’s only week two, but I’m already in over my head. I wrote my email down on every piece of paper I could find at the Activities Fair last Friday and I’ve already gotten almost twenty emails that are just from clubs. I don’t know how to do everything and still keep up with my school work. How do I manage to be involved, pass my classes and still have fun?


Feeling Blue and it’s Only Week Two


Dear Feeling Blue,

The truth of the matter is, you can’t do everything. If you happen to have a Time Turner in your possession, then it’s possible I suppose. But as I recall, that didn’t turn out too well for Hermione either. The good news is, now that Lawrence has expanded its email space, you won’t be getting those lovely 2 a.m. emails every day, notifying you that your mailbox is almost full.

I understand your want to be involved in as many activities as possible at Lawrence. From swing dancing, to SLUG, to sports and musical ensembles, there’s a lot to choose from. I’ll give you my three key mantras that have managed to keep me sane, successful and satisfied with my time at Lawrence.

Number One: It’s OK to say no. You may want to do everything, but you don’t have to. It’s OK to let your peers take the lead on some projects. You don’t have to accompany every musician who asks you. You don’t have to be the president of every organization you are involved with. In fact, doing fewer tasks will allow to you commit more time and energy to those tasks you do choose to take on. Which leads me to mantra number two.

Make a priorities list. Your classwork should really be at the top of this list. You, or at least someone, is paying for your education and that should not be taken for granted. From there, list the clubs and organizations that you want to be an integral part of. Your presence is necessary at every meeting and you want to carve out time in your schedule to ensure you can commit quality work to those depending on you. Third tier activities fall below those at the bottom of the list. These are the groups that you stay on the email list for and show up to meetings and events when you have the time. Don’t accept leadership positions in these groups and don’t stress yourself out if you can’t come every week. For other members of the organization, this will be their second tier club and they will be happy to take charge of it.

And finally, mantra number three: You shouldn’t back out on commitments, but you can always change your mind. In other words, you shouldn’t agree to head three committees and be president of two organizations in the same term as your recital or honors project, but you don’t have to be involved with the same groups every term you are at Lawrence. So you signed up for twenty clubs at the activities fair; pick three to try this term, three for next term and three for Spring Term. If you decide after going to a few meetings that you just don’t have the time to commit to Film Club this term, that’s OK. You can stay on the email list and try again next term. I’ve been on the email list for Swing Dancing since my freshman year, one day I swear I’ll go. Maybe this week. Or the week after. I take that back, I’m pretty busy this term, it will have to be next term.

Send in your questions to and have them answered by Sarah, a double-degree student in her fifth year at Lawrence.