This is a great question, and it definitely varies for each person! From what I have observed, your first semester will be a huge learning curve in terms of figuring out what you can balance. Based on my experience, and observing others, here is what I would recommend:
- In your first semester, prioritize adjusting academically to make sure you understand the new expectations and differences between the work in high school and college. I noticed that there is a lot more busy work in high school, and a lot more independent understanding in college, so adjusting to this takes time! In the meantime, to start growing socially, you can meet peers in classes and explore all of the organizations your university has to offer, without necessarily committing to one. At my university, a lot of student organizations would stand outside and talk to students about their club, and that was a great way to learn about organizations.
- Once you get your feet on the ground and feel comfortable with the college routine, you can more accurately determine what extra curriculars you can commit to. There are some orgs that focus on making friends, volunteering, or furthering your career. All of these are really important, and I personally think if you can find organizations that balance these aspects for you, you can devote your time to really meaningful relationships.
Most importantly, finding your balance takes time, so being patient with yourself is key :)
College is all about both personal and intellectual development so there is absolutely room for both! I've found that one good way to approach the balance is clearly defining your priorities and interests going in. Once you arrive on campus, you will be berated with a wide variety of courses and extracurriculars, and if you can regularly remind yourself of what you core elements you want to get out of a college experience, you will be able to properly commit time. Getting into the details of what this may mean, I would advise that you are always assessing the time commitments of certain activities. Whether it is the course load of an intriguing class, or the social calendar of a potential sorority, it's important to determine whether you truly have the bandwidth to add it to your schedule. A lot of college students want to expand their resume as much as possible, so they sign-up for a huge variety of involvements. If you over commit, you will not be able to devote as much attention to each activity and therefore, you may not succeed at the level you would hope. Again, my recommendation would be to remember what core takeaways you want to get out of college, assess whether you have the time, and if it checks both boxes, go all-in! It is much better to be fully committed to only a few classes/extracurriculars than to be partially committed to a lot.
Honestly, this is something that so many individuals struggle with when they exit the structure of high school and before. I'm in my third year of the working adult life, and I still find that I need to tweak some things. Somehow, you simultaneously have more and less time to do the things you want to do -- because it's in your hands! Whether or not you go to class, clubs, etc -- all up to you! This control can feel freeing and perplexing -- so I can understand the potential anxiety that you may be feeling!
I think planning is always super helpful! Highly recommend -Google Calendar -Trello (task management) -Pomodoro time/productivity techniques
- Classes: How much time do you need for each of the classes / credits you're taking in your semester? Talk with some other students who've gone through those courses -- what do they think about the workload and time reqs? Plan your semester, months and weeks with this in mind. Fight the urge to procrastinate on tests and projects, because that packs the backend of your semester, which is when a lot of activities tend to overlap too.
- Yourself!: What do you want to do? The weeks breeze by ... I remember the Ferris Bueller quote, "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Take some time to figure out what's important to you! Explore clubs, friend groups, activities, volunteering, philosophy, and poetry! What resonates with you? Don't forget about your own energy levels-- don't feel guilty about taking some time for yourself to read, draw, or just recharge! Take care of your mental health too!
- Friends, Clubs and organizations: Block out your calendar to spend time with your friends and get involved on campus! Work (school and otherwise) tends to fill the time you allocate to it... I know work is important, but don't miss the time you'd be able to spend to really get involved and find and build meaningful connections with people and orgs!
Yeah - planning out work, time for myself, and what I do with the other time (friends, orgs) was really helpful for me back in the day and even now.
Recommended some books and blogs that were helpful for me as well below.
Sid recommends the following next steps: