I'm pretty sure we in college can all agree that—between homework and sports to work and making career moves— life can sometimes get overwhelming. As I enter my final stages of college, I would like to tell you things I wish freshmen year me knew about finding balance: specifically between school and the prospect of finding a career after college. I know I talked earlier in the year about finding balance between work and school, but I am coming to find that as I am about to exit college, this issue is a completely separate beast.

Now, this may not the case for everyone in their college career, but I thought I should share anyway—just in case some of what I say is helpful to you. And I hope that it can be! 

Lately I have been incredibly stressed. I have felt as if my world is being pulled in two different directions. On one hand I have my studies that I want to excel in to the best of my ability. On the other hand, I have been getting work with jobs whose requirements and tasks are applicable to what I want to be doing in the future: film-making. Initially I felt like I was doing quite an awful job at balancing the school and work—sacrificing one for the betterment of the other. Sometimes I would give much less effort and time to school projects so I can focus on career stuff. That seemed to me like a normal thing, but what I am finding out is how it truly comes down to prioritizing and time management: and ultimately having the ability to say no to some things.

In my final semesters I have found that being in control of the time I spend has significantly increased my productivity and decreased stress. That is the problem with this semester currently: I do not feel fully in control of how things are prioritized and it is making things more difficult than it should be. I hope to soon see some consistency in what is going on, but until then I have to find patterns in timing and dedication. Sometimes balance looks like dedicating two hours to studying (with a 30 minute break) then moving onto some work for my career. On the topic of self-care, spreading yourself thin isn’t healthy and there is a line to find to make sure the best work is being done.

Overall, both are important. School is obviously important but so is the work being done towards a career. Plan carefully so as not to stress yourself out and then make matters seem worse than they really are. It takes effort and it stinks sometimes to have to say no to things to find peace of mind, but trust me when I say that it is definitely for the better. Even as I write this I had to say no to some things so that I could have time to finish some homework! I know that I have repeated it many times but let me say it again: balance has most assuredly been, in my opinion, one of the main contributing factors to my success throughout college.