By Angela Hatcher, Columnist
How do I get through college while having fun and getting good grades without stressing the hell out and spontaneously combusting?
Overextended and already over it.
Dear Overextended and already over it,
A wise old owl once told me that they key to surviving your college experience is to understand the delicate art of balance. He told me to limit myself to being a part of a mere two or three organizations/extracurriculars that I truly love, to refrain from going over 17 credit hours in a semester and above all else, to never, ever, under any circumstances bite off more than I can chew.
That wise old owl is my father, a regular ole chap who conquered his collegiate experience and is revered as a legend at his alma mater.
But like the majority of my father’s advice, it went in one ear and out the other as I relished my newfound freshman year independence, tattooing my neck, dying my hair purple and overloading myself with a little too much of everything Miami has to offer.
I’ve said it 100 times and I’ll probably say it a lot more in my lifetime: I should’ve listened to my dad.
You’re feeling overwhelmed. That’s normal. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed at Miami.
It’s too easy to sign up for every single club you see at Mega Fair as people hound you for your unique ID just so they can add numbers to their group. It’s too easy to sign up for 20+ credit hours because there’s so much to pick from and you’re not sure what you want to do yet. And it is way too easy to get wrapped up in the allure of the bars Uptown, the bright blue drinks in cheap, plastic cups and the music that rings through your ears as you walk back to your dorm in the early hours of the morning.
It’s all too easy.
So allow me to paraphrase my father’s wisdom for all you overextended college kids out there reading this column: Slow. The. F***. Down.
I’m sure you wrote to me looking for a foolproof five step method that would guarantee smooth sailing for these next four years. Hello? Did you enjoy your vacation to La La Land? That method doesn’t exist. Angela has answers, but even Einstein himself couldn’t breed a formula for that.
But you’re right, college would be a whole lot better if there was a recipe that listed out in neat little bullet points the ingredients you need to have a relatively stress free experience: two tablespoons of hard work, a cup of curiosity and drive, a dash of fun, a pound of dedication and voila! You’ve mastered the conundrum we refer to as college!
That’s just not the case.
You have to slow down.
When you’re overwhelmed, your mind is working overtime to process all of the information being thrown at you: derivatives, business models, scientific formulas, auditions for this, try outs for that. It’s as if a hive of bees got set loose in your noggin and when it starts to feel like you’re running on empty is when you need to take a step back and pump your brakes.
You have to set limits for yourself in college. You have to think logistically and you have to think in terms of what is best for your sanity, spontaneous combustion is not an option.
So sit down and make a list — a priority list. Lists are good, lists are effective. Priorities, addressing and embracing them, are even better. List all the classes you want to take this year and then list all the student orgs you want to be a part of. If your list is looking longer than Dumbledore’s beard, cross off some stuff, save it for next year. And then jot down some fun stuff you want to do while you’re here, but keep this question in the back of your mind while you’re creating your list; what do you want out of your college experience?
Some people just want to party. Some just want to study. Some people function better when they’re always busy, always going, never resting. Some people prefer not getting involved in anything on campus.
That’s where balance comes into play. Find your happy medium. Be Goldilocks in a world full of bears taking their soup too hot or too cold.
Get involved, have fun, go out, study hard. Do everything you want to. Try things you never thought you would. But find your balance.
That sounds a lot easier than it actually is. You will find that sweet spot through trial and error. Remember that you are a student first and ma and pops aren’t forking up forty grand a year for you to come down here and forget about your schoolwork.
College is a balancing act. 90 percent of the time it feels like you’re trying to stand on one foot while being weighed down with every class you’re enrolled in and every decision, good or bad, that you’re making. There will be times where you fall, and fall hard at that. You just have to get back up on your feet and starting balancing again.
As the self proclaimed queen of overextending myself, I am notorious for biting off more than I chew. Balance, to me, was a seven letter word that was synonymous with unrealistic. But after one year of falling and standing and falling again, I’ve hit my stride. You’ll hit yours too.
It can be daunting seeing masses of people flocking to the bars and frats Thursday through Saturday. It can be confusing, wanting to find your place in the 400+ student orgs we have on campus. And all the while, trying to maintain an above average GPA.
College asks for a lot from us —too much, at times. But it’s worth every second that you spend here, that I can guarantee you. It just takes a little bit of time, determination and trust to figure it all out.
Trust in yourself. That’s right —YOU. You can do it, you just have the slow your damn roll and think.
Four years. It’s a lifetime and the blink of an eye. You should get the most out of college while you are here. But when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop for a minute and ask yourself: What do I want out of my college experience?