Balancing Act

College can be one of those weird experiences where we feel like we’re fully grown and ready to take the final steps into going out into adulthood. However, I quickly found out that wasn’t the case; there are so many things to be learned and experiences to be had outside of college. It’s important to make sure to find balance in our lives so that we can partake in all the festivities and find success in whatever we do throughout our college career.

For me, balancing academics, student organizations, sleep, fitness, fun, and personal relationships has been a process that I still struggle with. I want to share with you some tips and tricks I’ve learned in college so far that have proven beneficial for me. Keep in mind that I’m a 22-year-old sophomore, so the advice I give is solely based on my experiences and my experiences alone—take it with a grain of salt.

1. Sleep is crucial.

I know the classic college mindset: wait until the last minute to pull an all-nighter and take the exam the next day. But the reality is, pulling all-nighters is extremely difficult and probably does more to hinder your actual performance on the exam. The day after the exam is brutal as well, and I always felt I lost two days’ worth of time because I was too tired to function after taking the test. Emotionally, I’m a lot more stable with the right amount of sleep—it helps keep me in check.

2. Eat healthy and hydrate!

Although I know the pizza at 1 a.m. is tempting, a little self-control here will go a long way. We need to eat to keep up our levels of energy to succeed, but there really isn’t much to be spending energy on at 1 a.m. before bed.

Always remember, staying hydrated has more benefits than fingers on my hand. I won’t go into details—if you want to find out the benefits of water, a Google search will give you more information than I could possibly ever hope to give you.

3. Exercise.

We all have a busy schedule, and exercising is something that often falls low on my priority list. The key to being mentally and physically fit begins with the body. I know I struggle with this around exam season, but a nice run or workout helps clear my head and gives my body a break from sitting still for so long. I also realize now that the ARC and CRCE are incredible facilities that I shouldn’t take for granted.

4. Find ways to relieve stress.

In my opinion, stress relief is one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated aspects of college. You will have days and weeks where you feel nothing is working and nothing is going your way, no matter what you’re doing. Find what you like to do to relieve stress and set aside time to do that. A little bit of quality rest carries you a long way.


I think, deep inside, we all know these things. Our parents constantly nag us about making sure we get enough sleep and enough to eat. But there is a reason why it’s such a widely accepted phenomenon—it actually works. I realize now after many failed all-nighters and pizzas at 1 a.m. that there is wisdom behind what they say: taking care of yourself and your body both mentally and physically are keys to long-term success.

It’s a trial and error process of figuring out what works for you. I think that’s the beauty of college—you have room to make mistakes and understand who you are. It’s a continual process for me as well, but executing the small steps given above really has helped me find success wherever I go. I’m sure I’ll learn more as I progress through the rest of college, but this has been a good start for me so far!

Michael

Michael

Class of 2021
I'm an Accounting major in the Gies College of Business. I began my college career in the Division of General Studies. I'm a Champaign "townie"—I was born in South Korea, but l've been living here since I was 7.