At the start of every term, two categories of students traipse through the gates of universities across the world: those who make grand promises to work hard and play hard regardless what the circumstance; and those who make no such pledge, knowing they’d just be lying to themselves.
Of course, university is a place of academic development and you are there to get a higher education qualification – but it can be hard to remember this when you first arrive in a new country eager to explore.
When you are first surrounded by university students all enjoying their newly found freedom in a brand-new destination to call home, the parties and socialising can sometimes cause the academics to take a backseat.
Fast forward a few months to your first looming deadline, and it’s likely going to be a very different story. After realising how unprepared you are after the missed lectures and skipped readings, it’s time for total social lockdown as your only dates are with the books until you complete your assignment in one week flat.
While is this is what many university students’ study plans look like; it is neither healthy nor academically sensible if you want to get the most out of your degree. How can you retain information and develop in-depth knowledge of your subject if you limit your study sessions to crash course tactics before a big date?
To truly become an expert in your field, you should be following the programme the way your university has developed it and build your knowledge consistently all year round.
Not only will this prevent you from having a monthly breakdown every time you realise how close your deadlines are, but it will also help you build long-lasting mental connections with your course material so you can apply it in your career after graduation.
And a successful career is what you’re really after, not that scroll you receive for graduation.
But maintaining a healthy study-life balance is not easy when there is fun to be had. How can you motivate yourself to study all year round when there’s no immediate reward, and especially when fun with friends is always just a phone call away?
We know it can be tricky to get the balance right and prevent stress sending you into academic overdrive or the socialite in you hacking your brain.
If you’re struggling to maintain your life-study balance, check out our three tips below…
1) Write a timetable with designated times for studying and socialising
Most people only use study timetables when it’s crunch time for exam revision, but by using one all year long, you can get ahead of the game rather than cramming everything in at the last minute.
By factoring in time to study and socialise on your timetable, you should be able to effectively manage your time, rather than letting precious time run away with you. If implemented correctly, your timetable should allow you to spend time with your friends, have the occasional lazy day at home and sufficient time to keep up with your degree programme.
If you’re finding it hard to stick to your timetable, it might help you to have a flexible structure where you can swap your sessions to suit your schedule. This flexibility means you can adapt your week to fit in with your plans, without throwing the timetable entirely out the window.
Also – there’s nothing wrong with organised fun!
2) Join academic and social societies
It can be tempting to join a lot of societies around your passions and have a blast – but this may not be so good for your academics.
Most universities have both social, sport and academic societies so joining a range of them all will help keep you balanced. You can still enjoy meeting new people and exploring your new home without losing sight of your academics, and even incorporate your studies into your social life.
Academic societies might sound dry, and not exactly how you plan to spend your limited free time, but they often provide a platform for you to get to know your coursemates and even form study groups to make the work more manageable.
3) Get a part-time job
Now, this may sound counterproductive when you are already struggling to manage your studies and social life, but having a part-time job can force you to organise your time properly.
Unlike with your own plans, you have to turn up to your shifts on time even if you’re feeling worn out, meaning you have to be more organised in the rest of your life as well. You will have more money to enjoy your free time and be more motivated to keep up to date with your studies as you go.
After all, you can’t just cram your studies at the last minute when you have shifts to go to, so you will be forced to organise yourself ahead of time.