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Balancing College Life: School, Friends and Work

When I graduated high school, my history teacher sat my class down on the last day to give his advice for finding joy once we get to college. He shared tricks and tips related to avoiding the freshman fifteen, how to save money, and staying on track with school work. Towards the end of his lecture, he uttered something that struck a chord with me: “When you go to college, it will be the most work you’ve ever had, the most people you’ve ever been around the most stressed you’ve ever been, and the best four years of your life.” Needless to say, I was beyond nervous to face this new chapter of my life that was right around the corner. 

After my first year at Temple, I am proud to say I faced the challenges of a full-time student who successfully made new friends while orienting into a new job on campus. My spring semester was full of challenges and triumphs, leaving me with a confidence I never had before. I accomplished my first year at TU head-on, leaving for summer with a few tips I know helped me handle all the changes I experienced during freshman year.

When it comes to schoolwork, my biggest tip is to stay ahead on your assignments. As tempting as it is to take a nap, watch Netflix, or go hang out with friends next door, getting a head start on any and all homework is the easiest way to not become overwhelmed. I found that using breaks between classes was the most productive time for me to do homework, especially in the Tech Center right here at TU! Which brings me to tip #2 - find the study space that works best for you and utilize it as much as you can. I learned quickly I study best around students who are also focused intently on their work because it helps motivate me to complete my assignments productively. Some people may find going to a remote location where no one is sitting around works better, or a meet-in-the-middle under a tree by Beury Beach! Finding the spot where you can utilize your skills best, no matter if it’s in a crowd or tucked away in a corner, is the key to productively completing assignments and staying on track with work. 

Another accomplishment I hold after leaving freshman year is having a fantastic group of friends who support me in all that I do. Luckily for me, my roommate and I instantly clicked once we met and became great friends. I also became close with several people through my classes and those that lived on the floor of my residence hall. So my tip for making friends? Really get to know the people around you. All of my best friends I met either through living in the dorm, through classes, or through mutual friends. While it can be nerve-racking to branch outside of your comfort zone, I started to form really great relationships once I opened up to all the new faces and personalities around me. And as cheesy as it sounds, being yourself in college leads you towards meeting the people you’ve been waiting to know your whole life! 

And the last piece of the pyramid (but certainly not the least) - having a part-time job during the semester. No one wants to do it, but let’s face it - the iced coffee runs aren’t paying for themselves. This past spring, I began working as a front desk assistant for Temple’s Campus Recreation Department. As excited as I was to begin working, it was an extra 13 hours a week that I was nervous I didn’t have. After I finished training, I quickly learned that I could handle my three shifts a week - I just had to remember to stay on top of the other things in my life as well. When it comes to working during your school year, my main tip is to be open and honest with your employer about your schedule. My boss was very willing to work with my classes and adjust my assigned shifts to work best with my workload. I worked mornings and nights so that I could stay on track with my studies without flipping my whole day around and becoming overwhelmed. Having a job while being a full-time student is possible, but it requires honesty and communication with your managers to make sure everyone is on the same page.

*Bonus tip for students at TU: working for a Temple-affiliated department is a great way to earn financial aid. If you have work study awarded to you, plenty of Temple departments take that into account and give students awarded work study priority over those who don’t. These departments also tend to be more flexible with shift scheduling because they are directly connected to the institution!

I certainly learned a lot during my first year in college. I hit many highs, many lows, and many days where I didn’t know what was going to come next. I love going to school at Temple U, and take pride in the fact I found how to balance the pyramid of school, friends, and a part time job. It is possible if the right amount of time and energy is put into it, and once you get a grip on balancing these three, college truly does become the best four years of your life!

This blog post was written by Anne Cleary, Secretary.

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