How to balance school, work, and extracurriculars

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on August 3, 2021

Many students in college or university focus heavily on their studies and miss out on other opportunities to learn, grow, and meet new people. While it’s important to prioritize school work, these students might miss out on many positive aspects of student life. It is rewarding to participate in extracurricular activities and to work while in school. Those activities and actions can make a student’s post-secondary school experience more fulfilling and enjoyable.
As a student, you might be wondering how you can find the activities that you are interested in. You might also want to know how you can find the time to participate in extracurriculars and work, while maintaining good grades.

Finding clubs and teams

During orientation week, universities and colleges often host an activities fair where you can sign up for clubs, sororities or fraternities, and teams. You can also look up clubs and teams on your campus’ student life website. There are volunteer organizations you can join and clubs that focus on games, tournaments, and social causes. If you are interested in playing sports, you can also join intramural sports teams.

7 tips for managing your schedule

Adding work and extracurriculars to your schedule can enrich your student experience! Below are some tips on how to get started.

1. Create a course load that is easy to manage

Don’t try to cram too many courses in a single semester! Select a full course load that is not too heavy. Take a few compulsory classes and a few electives to help balance out your workload. If possible, you can also leave some courses to complete during the summer.
student on laptop

2. Start with two to three extracurricular activities

It is important to pick activities that you enjoy. If your favourite sport is volleyball, check the schedule of your school’s volleyball team. If you want to deliver food to the homeless, look for what time the club you want to join does deliveries. Try to make the extracurricular activities fit into your school and work schedule. For example, if your last class on Thursdays ends at 6:00 pm, sign up for volleyball at 6:30 pm. Since you are still on campus, you’ll be able to participate.

3. Seek support for your courses

Don’t neglect your studies! If you find that you are struggling with course content, talk to your teaching assistant or professor about your concerns and work with a tutor. If your extracurriculars are impacting your grades, it might not be the right activity for you. You can also talk to an executive member of the club or team about reducing your hours with the organization.

4. Keep your agenda handy

Use the agenda that your school offers or purchase a planner for yourself, so that you know what activities you have for the day. Keep track of the times and locations of your activities and try not to doublebook or overbook yourself.

5. Let go of the activities that cause you stress

If you need to drop a course, activity, or job that is causing you a great deal of anxiety or stress, drop it. It is important to prioritize your mental health. You are not a failure if you have to give up on an activity you enjoy because you are too busy with school and work. You can always join again when your workload is lighter.
Stressed student

6. Consider attending drop-in fitness classes or visiting the gym

Many colleges and universities offer free drop-in fitness and gym memberships. If you don’t want to commit to a sports team or would prefer exercising at your own pace, you can visit your school’s gym or take a fitness class in-between your regular classes.
guy with gym bag

7. Try virtual or at-home activities

If your school does not have opportunities to join activities in person due to COVID-19, there are still online clubs you can join and activities you can do from home, like attending virtual fitness workshops.

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