I am halfway through my senior year, and I’m having a priority crisis. I have my class-readings and term papers, two capstones to finish by the end of the year, and I am also applying for summer programs and jobs and researching grad schools. I try to prioritize academics, but at the same time I am realizing that I have only half a year to hang out with my friends, none of whom live near my home. How do I balance striving for academic success while also enjoying my friendships, my last year at Lawrence and my own sanity?
– Stressing Senior
Dear Stressing Senior,
It seems like you have a lot on your plate. Keeping balance is something that we all struggle with. My third term freshman year was a living hell because of a lack of balance. I think the best advice I can give is to, instead of prioritizing academics, prioritize balance. Integrate balance into your daily schedule. Stay on top of your homework, of course, but make sure that that’s not all that you are doing. A good way to do that is to spend meal times with your friends. Don’t work through meals, and make sure you budget enough time to have a relaxed meal with your friends at least once a day. That will probably not be enough to keep you in balance, but it’s a good start.
Make sure you get enough sleep. That is crucial to achieve balance. If you’re sleep-deprived, you are not going to do your best work academically, and you won’t be able to enjoy any time you have off. There’s an app—for both iPhone and Android, and it’s also a website—called Habitica that helps you track good and bad habits. It also helps you achieve tasks and a bunch of other things, but it’s really good for helping you keep good habits and break bad ones. One habit that I have on my Habitica app is going to bed before 1a.m. I have it set up so that I get more points — which can go towards in-game rewards or real life rewards that you self-regulate — if I do go to bed before 1 a.m. and lose points if I don’t. It’s been really great for keeping me mindful of how much sleep I am getting. If you find that you are feeling really crappy and unmotivated, you might not be getting enough sleep.
Aside from just general lifestyle advice, all I can say is that this is going to be up to you. It’s up to you to make the best out of your last year. Try and be aware of keeping balance in your life and try not to miss out on spending time with your friends, especially when doing things that are uniquely Lawrence. Sledding down Memorial Hill, doing homework on Main Hall green in Spring Term, participating in Relay for Life and other LU events and so on, you get the deal. It’s going to be stressful, but it’s supposed to be fun!