135 Balancing Classes and Non-Athletic Extracurricular Activities

Anonymous Student

The transition from being a high school student to being a college student can be quite challenging, especially when it comes to balancing all your responsibilities. Trying to keep up with your classes alone can be hard. A college schedule is much different than the class schedule you had in high school. You may only have two or three classes, but the material can make you feel very overwhelmed. When you add social responsibilities on top of that, and trying to take some time for yourself, balancing everything becomes incredibly stressful.

The transition from being a high school student to being a college student can be quite challenging, especially when it comes to balancing all your responsibilities. Trying to keep up with your classes alone can be hard. A college schedule is much different than the class schedule you had in high school. You may only have two or three classes, but the material can make you feel very overwhelmed. When you add social responsibilities on top of that, and trying to take some time for yourself, balancing everything becomes incredibly stressful.

These are just some of the stressors of being a college student alone. Most students at the University of Pikeville are student athletes or participate in at least one extra-curricular activity, while some even do multiple. These sports or extracurricular activities are most likely a major source of a student’s financial aid. When you have multiple practices or meetings throughout the day along with classes, taking the time to do your classwork after a long day seems like less of a priority than spending time relaxing. This is the main reason most students end up falling behind in their classes.

In this article, we are going to focus on the stresses of balancing your classes and extra-curricular activities that are not sports related. When people think of extra-curriculars, they automatically think of athletics. However, the University of Pikeville offers so many more extra-curricular opportunities than just athletics. These opportunities include the Osteopathic Medical Scholars Program (OMSP), the Optometry Scholars Program (OSP), Honors, band, choir, student government, and so many more. Programs and clubs like these may not sound as though their schedules would be as strenuous as that of the football or basketball teams, however, there are still many responsibilities that come along with being a member of any of them. Personally, I am a member of OMSP and honors. Although I do not have to wake up extra early in the morning to go to a 6 A.M. workout, I still have zoom meetings, labs, and other events that I must attend to stay in them. Not to mention the academic requirements such as keeping a good G.P.A. and attendance in class.

These programs may not be as physically daunting for students, yet they still can become a mental stressor if not handled properly. They add just as much stress and/or responsibilities as any other extra-curricular activity. If a student does not balance their schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, and social lives in the right way, they will begin to feel overly stressed and some get to the point where they feel “burnt out”.

There are multiple ways to prevent the burn out and stress that comes along with balancing all your responsibilities as a student. One of the ways to do so is to manage your time well. Time management is a key in reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed. A simple way to manage your time is to schedule out each day of the week. Creating a schedule for yourself will allow you to have a set time for completing your schoolwork and having social time. Also, a good suggestion is to create to-do list for what assignments need to be finished during that day. This way you have the ability to check off each task as you do it. Finishing tasks is proven to release dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for the feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction, and happiness. Not only will completing tasks on your list make you feel accomplished, it will motivate you to continue completing more tasks.

Another way to cope with the stresses of college is to keep a healthy mindset. While this is easier said than done, it is particularly important in order to improve your mental health. This can be accomplished in a multitude of ways. By simply doing something you enjoy, your brain will instantly be happier. Trying to keep a positive outlook on things instead of being negative is a great way to keep a healthy mindset. Another great way to feed into your healthy mindset is to try and stay in good physical shape. Eating healthy and working out release neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Some students choose to practice religion as a way of alleviating stress and keeping a healthy mind and spirit.

In order to give incoming students the best introduction on how to cope with the stresses of college, I consulted upperclassmen members of non-athletic extra-curriculars to see what advice they would give to the younger students. Here is what they had to say:

“You really just have to set aside certain times for certain classes and activities. I normally try to set aside 2-3 hours for one class, and then after that I’ll take like an hour/hour and a half for myself to give my brain a break.”     “Make sure you have at least an hour or half an hour for yourself because it will definitely help your mental health.”

Ultimately, there is no way to completely rid your life of stress. The only thing you can control is how you react and manage it. College will be some of the best years of your life, but also some of the most trying. If you attack your stress with a healthy, positive mindset you will be able to accomplish many things. Also, managing your time will greatly reduce the possibility of you becoming overwhelmed with classes and outside responsibilities. In the end, all the hard work and dedication will pay off, so making sure to work on your mental health along the way will greatly improve your future.

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