So I am a few short hours away from #SpringBreak2017 and I have officially decided that this has been the most stress-free semester I’ve ever had. After much trial and error, I think I have figured out how exactly to structure your semester so that you have minimum stress and maximum fun. Keeping academics, extracurriculars, and your social life is difficult but it’s crucial to enjoying college and getting the most out of it!
My first piece of advice would be to look at your course plan and examine every single semester. While the course plan provided by Viterbi is pretty good about structuring classes the most efficient way, you will more than likely want to deviate from the given plan either for a co-op, semester abroad, part-time internship, summer school, a minor, etc. Making sure you don’t take too many labs at once is key since they are typically pretty time-consuming courses. I also recommend spacing out GEs and general science and math courses if possible. Have diversity in your course load every semester is nice because it allows you bring ideas from non-engineering coursework into your engineering classes and vice versa. When you get up into higher level courses, I would recommend trying to take classes that go over similar material. For example, in 3 of my classes right now, we are discussing groundwater flow and Darcy’s law. It’s really nice that I get to study these topics in 3 different ways but all at the same time because I can use knowledge from 1 class to help me better understand the other.
While structuring your classes in a calculated manner is really helpful in decreasing stress, staying involved outside of academics is also really important to the balancing act. I love being involved in Society of Women Engineers and my sorority, and I have positions in both organizations. While it is a lot of work keeping up with other orgs, they’re also a nice way to get to know more people at USC. In SWE, we have a mix of community service, corporate & networking, and social events. Last Saturday, I helped judge a science fair for middle schoolers and high schoolers in the morning and then drove to Pasadena for In N Out and Bundt Cakes with my roommate (in my sorority) in the afternoon. Being busy on weekends helps me to make sure I get all my work done before then.
Now classes and student orgs are all awesome and look awesome on your resume, but hanging out with friends and going out on the weekends is also important to enjoying college! This semester I’ve made sure to go out at least once a weekend to unwind. Whether it’s a sorority event or going out to dinner with friends or visiting one of my friends at another university in southern California, I always try to schedule in some fun at least one or two nights.
“How do you balance it all?” is probably one of the most common questions I get asked, so I hope this blog helps you in navigating the balancing act that is college! I would be lying if I said that it’s easy, but if you’re passionate about your major and the orgs you’re involved in then, it’s definitely worth it.