by CJ McCartin, Content Manager
By my senior year of college, I was the captain of the Division I women’s swim team, selected for a business fellowship, the assistant head copy editor of my school newspaper, a student athlete advisory council representative, and a full-time student. I also worked two on-campus jobs, graduated Cum Laude, and was inducted into both the national student athlete honors society and the national political science honors society. I was six credits shy of double majoring. And believe it or not, I had a social life!
Want to know how I did it? Two words, four syllables, the key to my life: Time management. Time management is one of the most important skills you can master to make the most of your college experience, and it is a skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “don’t put too much on your plate” before, and it’s pretty much the golden rule in time management. But want to know a secret? Your plate grows as you grow. By senior year my resume was bursting at the seams, but I didn’t sign up for everything I ended up becoming involved in the moment I set foot on campus. First semester of freshmen year I focused on getting used to my surroundings, occupied by my classes, swim practices and lifts, and my work study job. I had plenty of time during my days to nap, something that was essential to my physical and mental health during this transitional period, and at that point in my life my plate was full.
As time went on, I gradually added and subtracted things to my routine, always maintaining a healthy balance between my physical and mental health, my academics, and my social life.
As my schedule started to fill up, prioritizing became an essential part of my routine. By senior year, I had three days a week that were literally planned out down to the minute! In order to keep track of all of the tasks I needed to get done, listing out what I needed to accomplish in order of importance became my lifeline. I loved seeing all the tasks crossed out by the end of the day, evidence of all I accomplished. Of course not all of my days flowed smoothly, but it really helped that I had supportive friends, coaches, and professors around me to help me out when I needed it!
Know when to take a step back
At the beginning of my senior year I felt completely overwhelmed. I was taking an extra class so that I would be on track to double major, was starting a fellowship that took up a bigger chunk of my time than I anticipated, and was transitioning into new leadership roles left and right. I was worried that I broke the golden rule and put too much on my plate, but I didn’t want to disappoint myself and the other people who were counting on me. While venting to my mom, she said something that put everything into perspective: “It’s your senior year, your last year of college. You should be spending your time on things you love, not things you think will look good on a resume.” This statement forced me to take a step back and reevaluate my priorities. I realized I was forcing a double major because I thought it would look good (not sure to who) and I dropped the extra class I was taking that semester. It surprised me how much this small adjustment completely restored balance in my life. Looking back, I’m even more grateful for my decision because COVID-19 would eventually cut my time in college short. I’m glad I spent my final months of college happy, not overworked!