Don't forget to seek balance in everyday college life

UW students all seek to balance their social lives with their educations.

UW students all seek to balance their social lives with their educations.

Image By: Jessi Schoville and Jessi Schoville

There are 43,193 students enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These 43,193 students are trying to complete homework assignments on time. These 43,193 students are attempting to attend all the club kick-off meetings they signed up for at the Student Organization Fair. And these 43,193 students enrolled at UW-Madison are trying to find the perfect balance between school and their social lives. “The best four years of your life” is a phrase synonymously associated with your experiences in college. But how can a student make sure they are having the best years? Do they immerse themselves in homework, do all the readings assigned and receive the best education possible? Or do they fill their calendar with social opportunities and make friends that will last a lifetime (sorry, cliché number two about college)?

The first two years of my Wisconsin experience were filled with meeting new people and going to random events because, “Hey, they’re going to have free food there.” I wanted to make my college experience exactly like the ones I had seen in the movies. I was taking the lackadaisical viewpoint that education in the classroom was important, but there was no better learning opportunity than forcing myself to go to as many Facebook events as I could. My Snapchat list of friends grew substantially, as did my pile of readings that I hadn’t gotten around to doing. But I was living the college life, wasn’t I?

Now in my junior year of college, my viewpoint on the purpose of college has changed. I find myself more proud when I finish all 67 pages of a textbook chapter than when I make a friend who I will spend the rest of college awkwardly nodding at when I pass them at the crosswalk at the intersection of Park and University. Perhaps it is that I am tired of clicking that “I’m interested” button for another "free taco" Tuesday event that will result in me slyly grabbing a soft shell as I dodge talking to the club organizers. Or maybe it is the small shadow of internships, job experience and post-graduate life that has begun to grow at the small of my back.

I’m not saying the freshmen of Madison need to put on a full suit, head down to the Career Fair and secure an interview with a company. I know I didn’t even bring a dress shirt to wear my first semester. But I am saying it is important to always remind yourself the reason why you are pursuing four years of higher education.

There is nothing more educational than learning it is OK to sit alone and eat lunch, or the life skills you acquire after a week of living without your parents. And part of college is becoming confident with who you are as a person. But use the information you learn in class to help you. Become an amazing person, but also an amazing student.

As students at the UW-Madison, we must find a balance in our education here at college. While we are here to have fun, we are also here to work hard. I know there is nothing worse than being assigned homework right before the weekend, but there is also nothing worse than being granted the opportunity to educate yourself further and not taking it.

You don’t have to go to every single one of your professor’s office hours, but just make sure that you don’t choose going to a "free T-shirt for the first 20 students” event over going the extra mile with your studies.

Lilly is a junior majoring in journalism and communication arts. What balance do you think students should strike between socializing and studying? What life skills have you learned in your college experience? Please send all questions, comments and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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