Blog & Events

Doing Everything While Staying Sane

November 19, 2013

By Katherine Sandhop, Senior Mechanical Engineering Student

Picture of Katherine Sandhop smilingHaving a completely balanced college life/experience seems to be this crazy myth that someone made up. There are so many things that we push ourselves to do that it seems impossible to do them all and do them all well. For me, it almost becomes a checklist: go to class, get good grades, be involved in academic organizations, be involved in university organizations, work, get a good night's sleep, and oh yeah, while you're in college, try to have some fun!


Academics
Academics are always the hardest for me to get exactly right. Each semester, you have to go through this super-awkward trial phase. You're trying to figure out which professors are the hardest, which class has the most homework, what the tests are going to be like, what you actually need to know, who you want to study with for each class, and how you should split your time between all your classes. The best advice I have to minimize this awkward beginning-of-semester phase: talk to people!

  • Talk to upper-classmen that have taken your classes before. They can give you insight to the professor's teaching style, what you should pay particular attention to (for tests or for classes in the future), and tell you how they balanced everything.
  • Talk to people in your classes! You'll most likely find people that are taking many of the same classes as you. It's really awesome when you have several people who all have to get the same assignments done at the same time so you all have similar goals.

I also find that being organized from the beginning of the semester helps me. Keep some kind of calendar where all of your commitments can be found in one place! Whether that be your phone or a Google calendar or a planner. It just needs to be something accessible. Write EVERYTHING down. From when assignments are due to exam dates to group meetings to football games. You'll be less likely to double book something!

Academic Organizations
Being a part of an academic organization really helps connect you to people in your major. Most provide a variety of opportunities to help you academically and socially as well as connecting you to companies! In engineering, most academic organizations have some sort of test bank with old tests from professors (they know they're there...it's not cheating). Most meetings are supported by a specific company which gives really good insight into what people with your major do after graduation. Finally, the social events hosted by academic orgs provide a really awesome way to relax and have fun while still meeting people in your classes and becoming friends with upper-classmen (that can give you advice!).

All the Extras
You're in college to learn and get a degree but, for me, it's beyond important to have something non-academic related going on in your schedule. Anything that will provide an outlet and give your mind a break from all the technical mumbo-jumbo in all your classes is a great way to provide that relief. Whether that be playing IM sports, doing band, getting involved in student government. Do anything!
My trick is to roll up a couple of the things I want to get done into the same thing. By that I mean: I'm super obsessed with sports, I play piccolo, I wanted to be a part of a non-academic organization, and I wanted to meet non-engineers. Solution: Join Basketball Band. I hit 4 birds with 1 stone.

Every semester, I feel like I get a little bit better at finding the perfect balance. I never quit juggling responsibilities. It's just a matter of figuring out how I want everything to fit in.