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When you were in college and felt overwhelmed with classwork and life in general, how did you keep pushing on??

I am currently in my first year majoring in computer science. I need to make sure that I balance attention to my schoolwork and family obligations as well as having some fun. I do not want to fall behind and sometimes the stress of whats to come is overwhelming.

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Paul’s Answer

College can sometimes be like a triage center at a hospital emergency room. The concept regarding prioritizing is basically the same.

It is best to prioritize the assignments and things that are the most important.

The assignments that have the closest due date, remember to complete those first. Review class assignments every week. Clarify with the instructor, if there is something you do not understand. Put social functions on the back burner until you get all your pressing academic assignments done.

These are some suggestions that helped me.
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Alex’s Answer

- Always get your work submitted on time.
- Don't be afraid to ask the lecturer or your peers for help. You might even make a friend along the way.
- Focus on the present task - the most important for that day - and not the next 5 or the next 10.
- Or split your time evenly and set yourself time limits. If something is "so big and daunting" that you never get started on it, then allow yourself to only work on it for "5 minutes". Or 10. You'll find you naturally want to keep going, or come back to it with fresh ideas an hour later.

It's a struggle nonetheless.

The thing that kept me going through my 3 year course was perhaps the very scarce but still present social life.

I had some good friends from high school who although they were at different universities, I would hang out with them every Friday night or so and play video games. They would be studying similar things and so we could talk about our courses and assignments casually, which helped.

Then at my university itself I had a small group of friends, but not from my core classes. The computer science classes were always filled with introverted, quiet, focused people and there wasn't much opportunity to socialize. The Japanese language class was so fun and full of bubbly energetic people and that's where I made all my friends. We hung out at campus, then started going out to group lunches and dinners, it was great. It's 12 years later and I'm halfway across the world and they're still my friends for life.

I guess my last piece of advice is it's ok to take some shortcuts here or there, if you're confident, or if you can afford to. During my study I had really long Wednesdays one semester, 9am Japanese lecture, 1pm Maths lecture and a 6-9pm Machine Learning lecture. I was stuck at the uni for 12 hours, and I always fell asleep during the 6pm lecture. I loved the machine learning content but the lecturer just didn't inspire, especially late at night. I was behind on the coursework for the whole year but whenever we had an assignment I'd always give it my all. I'd go over all the missed notes, do my own research and study on the subject, and just submit "something" by the deadline, showing that I understood at least some or all of the subject matter. I ended up with a distinction in that subject. Call me lucky or maybe just passionate but the motto perhaps is, don't push yourself beyond your physical or mental limits. Don't try and get 100 on every course. Don't feel the need to be attentive for 12 hours straight. Just get done what you need to do. You'll learn either way. You'll get a job either way.
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Michelle’s Answer

There will always be times in life during which there is more stress and less stress. It is up to us to create a balance. Sometimes thinking about it all at once makes it seem worse than it really is. We must live in the moment and try not to overthink and try to fill our day with variety. Learning to say no to the right things at the right time helps to not feel so overloaded.

I guess that I never perceived the addition of college in my life as a stressor. I was independent and loved what I was doing. When things would grow tough, I would swim, go for some sort of outing and talk with friends. We all have our way of dealing with stress and we all do learn how to pace ourselves and recognize what our priorities should be. You will come to that place. It takes time. I hope that this is somewhat reassuring for you and you should always reach out to others when something is on your mind.
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Melisa’s Answer

Kudos to you on embarking on this exciting journey of education and career!
In the course of earning my bachelor's degree, I too grappled with the challenge of maintaining a healthy equilibrium between work, school, and personal life. I discovered that reading about time management and prioritizing tasks was incredibly beneficial. Brian Tracy and Stephen Covey are among my preferred authors, but I'm confident there are newer ones out there. Remember, your education is a stepping stone to your future, so it's wise to place it high on your list of priorities, along with maintaining your well-being. The toll of stress on your health can be severe, especially if you're not getting adequate sleep, not exercising, or not eating a balanced diet. Be transparent with your loved ones about your priorities; those who truly care for you will be understanding!
Your concern about achieving a balanced life is a clear indication of your potential for success. You're on the right track!
Best wishes,
Melisa
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David’s Answer

Navigating through college can indeed present some tough times. Remember to take a breather and acknowledge your achievements so far. Engage in conversations with students who are a year or two ahead of you. Their experiences and insights on how they tackled similar situations could be a great source of guidance for you, as they've walked in your shoes before.

Set aside some time to jot down your journey as a freshman and the milestones you've reached. Revisit these notes a couple of weeks later. This exercise could serve as a powerful motivator to keep you going.

Arrange a meeting with your career guidance counselor when you feel stuck. They can provide you with valuable advice on how to progress.

Above all, prioritize self-care. This is crucial to prevent burnout and maintain your well-being.

Here's wishing you a successful and fulfilling college journey.
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Amalya’s Answer

Hi Antonio,

This is a good question. You should sharpen your time management and organizational skills, as well as increase your motivation level for being self-efficient. Try to avoid from procrastination and do everything as early as possible. Also, don't overload yourself with worries which will never happen. Just be studious, take the necessary efforts for your academic life, and keep the balance between the classes and the other obligations.
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Laura’s Answer

Take time for self care. Keep pushing forward. Relax. Reset. Readjust. & Refocus.
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Michael’s Answer

Well the first thing I can say is I'm impressed for you for having awareness around these very real feelings!
Many attendees feel the same way but struggle to find a path through it all due to trying to brute force through it.

What worked for me was study sessions with other members of my class.
That helped streamline the assignments where I wouldn't find myself spinning my wheels on something too long.

That helped relieve some of the continuous pressure you might feel from these classes.
And more naturally give you time for the family/friends etc
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Roel’s Answer

I strongly suggest that you strive for the highest level of organization. Often, during my college years, feeling swamped was a direct result of lacking order in my life. By staying organized and keeping up with your studies, you can build a sense of self-assuredness in your actions. Don't forget to lean on your loved ones, your family and friends. They form your support network, your personal cheer squad, ready to boost your confidence and encourage you to keep moving forward!
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Melody’s Answer

Hi Antonio,

I'm currently studying computer science, full time worker and we recently had a baby so I definitely understand what is not having time and feeling overwhelmed...
Something that has helped me at university is setting my priorities, finding at what time I can study and pay attention the most (not all people are morning people and some people feel exhausted after work so studying after work is not a great idea), set yourself weekly goals and try to attain them as close as possible, rest well and take care of your wellbeing as well.

It is easy to lose motivation from time to time, especially with the subjects taking month, just think about it as one topic at a time, if possible watch an introductory video not more than 10 minutes on youtube that explains the topic so at least you are familiar with the logic behind a topic.
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Charles’s Answer

As the top comment points out it's all about prioritization. There's so much to do in college but not everything will be relevant to your goals.

For example if your goal is to graduate on time, you need to think about what classes are on the critical path to graduation and which classes are optional and are okay to drop and try again the next semester. While it would certainly be nice to take 8 classes each semester and get an A in every one of them, that could easily lead to burnout and missing out other extracurricular activities. There will be weeks in which you have too many things to do and not enough time to do them, so you need know what has to be done first and what can be done late or not at all. So it's not at all a bad idea to register for a bunch of classes in the beginning, as long as only a few of them are mandatory, and you can then pick and choose which optional classes to drop later on.

I would make use of course counselors if those are available. They typically know what a good pace would be for completing your major's requirements, and can help you spread out the hard classes so you aren't overloaded on a given semester.

As for balancing classes and social life, I would say there's no good answer to this as most people just end up sacrificing sleep, but if you had to choose I would prioritize making friends earlier on in college as your courseload will typically get a lot harder each year and you will have less time to socialize later on.

In the end it's not super necessary to have a high GPA across the board, unless you are going for grad school in which case it would matter more. I would focus on getting good grades and understanding the material in your core classes first, then use whatever left over energy on electives. When you start looking for jobs what matters the most is whether you graduated or not, and how relevant the classes you took are to the job you are applying for. Whether you got an A in advanced cheesemaking or if you barely passed doesn't really matter, but the time you saved by not staying up late making cheese could have let you catch up on sleep or spend more time with friends both of which could improve your overall well-being and happiness.
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