College is a wonderland of opportunities- but sometimes, there are more worthwhile opportunities for us to handle. One of the biggest problems I think we engineers run into is the sheer amount of commitments we make- we take a packed class schedule, and on top of that, we add fitness, student organizations, research, and more. The results are unhappily exhausted engineers that do a lot of things adequately instead of a few things excellently. But we don’t want to waste these next four years, so what can we do?
I would like to offer the lessons I’ve learned over these two years to anyone who would like to listen, but first, I’ll preface it with this: you will have to learn time management for yourself. It’s different for everyone, and every one can handle different loads of work.
To the advice: First and foremost, you are here to learn and prepare for a career. You should always make room for schoolwork and studying. If you don’t dedicate time to academic pursuits, you will have wasted four years of time and money by the time you graduate. Helpful hint: if you focus in class (and trust me, you will be tempted to doze off or zone out) you will save a lot of time on homework and studying.
Also make time for a social life. Nothing boosts productivity in school like taking some time to de-stress with friends. I remember so many weeks my freshman year when I was kept sane by going to my fraternity house at the end of a long week to hang out with brothers. If you have a network of friends to support you, you’ll be able to cope with more work and get more done.
When it comes to non-essential activities like student organizations, research, and other extra-curriculars, remember this one rule: you will make time for the things that matter to you. As long as you evaluate each activity in terms of how much it means to you, you will naturally get things to fall in place. For example, a relationship is a huge time commitment, but wouldn’t most of us get it to work? Don’t discount clubs, Greek letter organizations, or exercise just because you “won’t have time”. Everything here is on college time- everyone is busy, so everything is flexible. People will understand if you drop out of a club for reasons of sanity.
There are a lot of worthwhile things here at college. But it’s important that we make commitments in a healthy way that doesn’t drive us crazy. Just remember there are always students just like you that are more than willing to help out.