Posts Tagged ‘College’

Life of a Juggler

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

My life is the life a juggler. Work, school, motherhood, and some kind of social life (how I do not know). I have a handful of clients, two of which I am fully committed to for over 20 hours each a week. In addition, I am taking four classes this semester, my last, including a Spanish and Chemistry class. Two kids, a boyfriend, dog, and a home to care for are also priorities. I wake up each day unsure of how I will juggle all of this and not fall flat on my face. I am dedicated and persistent, that is all I can sum it up to. I want nothing more than to squeeze time in to write everyday, but it gets shoved aside for more important tasks. It is frustrating, but I know that one day I will accomplish this as well, the writing ball will be thrown up into the air with the rest and I will be able to keep it up in the air.

Today I have work to do for a few clients, a Spanish quiz, an English paper, a trip to the doctor for a checkup, and a million other errands and chores to complete.  I have reading assignments to do while on the train, the only time I can manage to get those done as I pour over my textbooks with a highlighter as the subway car rocks me to and fro.  My daughter has state tests coming up for middle school, which she is nervous about and is practicing endlessly for.  My boyfriend is also in college full-time in addition to his 40 hours per week at work,  he is as busy as me most days and we try to carve out a few sleepy moments to catch up before we fall asleep each night.  Life is hard, but it is also interesting everyday.  I try not to become overwhelmed with the sheer busyness of it all and most days I succeed.

Best thing to happen so far today?  A cup of coffee from my favorite cafe Norma’s.  Hope my Spanish quiz goes as well!

College Students vs. Time Management

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

It is Friday night and after an extremely busy week taking care of my children, working and attending college full-time I begin to panic.  I sign into my online class and I realize that I forgot to do one of my assignments, an essay which requires reading a chapter and posting by midnight looms before me.  My eight-year old needs me to help her with her homework and my sixteen year old is whining about dinner. I glance at the time, my heart is pounding.  Life becomes a time squeeze, running from one obligation to the next.

Most college students struggle with responsibilities and it is often due to lack of time management.   College students must attempt to achieve their goals whilst struggling with life responsibilities, children, punctuality, distractions and procrastination. With these pressures, balancing our time to truly meet our needs and reducing the inevitable stress that follows is a juggling act indeed.

Many students, burdened with responsibilities, fight to beat the clock. Stacyann Brower, a mother of two and a grad student at LIU said, “My children do not allow me to get my work done and if I wait until they are asleep I am too tired to tackle it.”  Stacyann also spends a lot of time assisting her children with their schoolwork and shuttling them around to activities. Organizing classes around our lifestyles in a realistic way may help reduce the stress we feel and help us to succeed with our present situation.  For example if your child is having trouble at school, it would be helpful to reduce the number of classes you take or find a tutor.

Mia Baker, a more traditional college student at a college in Vermont, works at the dining hall once a week in addition to making time for friends.  Mia said, “I personally try and get all my work done and I do not have to stress about it.” Many college students face a variety of outside responsibilities that demand their attention, full-time and part-time jobs, long commutes, social obligations and families.  Often time management is the only means of balancing their lives.

Keeping track of homework, reading assignments and test dates in a planner can be a crucial step in staying organized.  Prioritizing schoolwork and focusing on ultimate goals are important tools when implementing a routine.  Choosing to focus on school, work and children leave little time to do much else, it is important to understand this when committing to classes. Verity Baker said, “I have a calendar for work and school, as well as one for homework.”

Study habits and setting aside time for assignments can be difficult as the semester moves along.  Mia found this strategy useful, “Sometimes I feel overwhelmed but I just take everything one step at a time and calmly go through the things that need to get done.  Once they are done though, it feels like there is a weight off my shoulders.”

Some students felt that the assignments professors gave were fair; however they often found conflicts with the time they needed to devote to other activities.  Multi-tasking may be a technique that can help some to catch up, such as reading on the subway while commuting to work.

When asked if they were often late or unprepared at school, many students felt they couldn’t keep themselves on track with their assignments.  Stacyann remembers when she was an undergraduate, “…I did my homework in the car just before class or at down-time during work.” Finding a quiet area and keeping books in one place can assist students in keeping track of workload and handing assignments in on time.  Careful preparation, planning and avoiding procrastination can help to alleviate tardiness.

Stacyann feels that although she is never late she works very hard to meet deadlines in her grad classes, “I feel like I am always doing it at the eleventh hour because there is just not enough time with two kids, a house to run, a husband, etc.”   Prioritizing schoolwork, leaving time to handle unexpected obstacles, and keeping track of due dates is an important part of being a successful college student.

“I’m just going to check Facebook for a minute.”  Texts messages, emails and tweets flow to and fro.  A friend comes over and tells you about a wicked party going on down the hall.  Before we know it, hours have passed and the work we planned to do isn’t done.  Distractions, they are everywhere, if you can name all the people on Jersey Shore but not the digestive system for your biology class, then you need to reevaluate how you spend your time.  Verity said, “Facebook is definitely a culprit…but I also like to compulsively clean my room in order to procrastinate.”

Daniel also said, “Yes Facebook, friends, texting and the internet easily take up my attention and eats all my time.”  Monitoring your time when distracted is an important tool when focusing on what needs to be accomplished.  Using a timer may be helpful in order to maintain focus.

Perhaps the most important question of all is how time affects student performance and quality of lifestyle.  Often we will put aside something or give up early on, without pushing through.  We often become frustrated when our plans haven’t turned out as we wanted.  Do you feel that because of time management issues you are unable to achieve what you set out to do?

Verity said, “Definitely! Unfortunately I have been a poor time manager since middle school so I don’t know if there’s much hope for me…”

“Yep, I feel that I won’t be able to achieve my goals since I don’t have any sort of time management in place.” worried Daniel.

Stacyann commented, “Not really.  Luckily I work well under pressure.”

Mia answered, “All the time, it’s really bad.  I need to learn some time management skills ASAP!”

It is apparent that many college students are not sure how to organize their time set up and follow a routine, and or where to seek help.  Many colleges have onsite counseling which help students with personal issues.  There are also clubs and workshops available that allow students to focus on their goals and alleviate stress by being socially involved.  Self-help books, internet resources and chats with friends can be useful.  In addition, it is important to discuss concerns with your family or friends and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Finally, be mindful of the task at hand rather than always multi-tasking will help with focus issues.  Remember to take time to relax, it will help to reenergize mind and spirit, whether it’s yoga, a night out or even a ferocious game of monopoly against a competitive eight year old!

Vassar Day One: 6.18.10

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

I am more or less settled in the room I will inhabit for the next five weeks.  It is quaint and old, but beautiful, in an old world sort of way.  There is a wardrobe that towers against one wall, spacious and forthcoming.  Beside me are a sturdy desk and chair, a decent bed and a small dresser.  All I need for my stay.  A fan in the window, much needed due to the rising temperature, partially obscures my view of the main building and surrounding grounds.  It is exquisite and I find that my nerves have calmed to some extent.  I have had short social encounters, but nothing resulting in any kind of impression yet.  It is all very overwhelming.

I am dressed in “smart-casual” as indicated on the itinerary for the evening.  7pm.  It is 6:30pm.  I have brushed my teeth and tidied the already tidy room multiple times.  I applied makeup, more than the usual mascara and chap stick.  I read the new Oprah magazine.  I am bored.  I cannot remember the last time I had nothing to do.  Seriously, I cannot.  It seems a distant memory that escapes my capturing it over and over in the recesses of my mind.  I cannot remember a time that I did not rush to do what I needed to do in order to care for other human beings.  In particular, my son and daughter, responding to their requests and needs.  Whether they are immediate or planning for some event in the future.

I’ve dreamt of this moment, unsure of its very existence.  Yet, I am not sure if I like this feeling of freedom.  Perhaps I must ease into it like swimming in the water.

I hear echoed voices of the other students invited to participate in the program.  I am anxious about meeting them. I am nervous that I will come across as being too old or uptight.  It is almost time to go to the reception, I lay down with my eyes closed, more importantly I allow the thoughts to stop.

Later that evening:

Dinner at the reception was surprisingly good.  After checking an over twenty-one list, I was also given a choice of red or white wine.  Nice!  At first, we mingled at our table; I began to feel at ease.  Everyone there was just as excited, apprehensive, nervous and bewildered as I was.

Eventually, someone rose and spoke.  We all introduced ourselves and the fear of why we were there hit me.  Academic boot camp.  Then the announcer said, “Please be confident in yourselves.  You are Vassar students.”  Not sure how I felt after that, but I was certainly feeling a slightly more centered.

I tried to get a chance to meet as many of my fellow students as possible, as we would be sharing this life away from our usual lives together.  I was relieved that I could get along with everyone  easily and my age was less of a concern.  I even partook in a late night walk around the 1000 acre campus with a group of girls.  The stroll produced a sneak peak at the pool in the fitness center, a newfound fear of skunk and the possibility of washing in tomato juice at some point of my stay, and the possibility of new friends.

I understand more about the envy I felt every time I saw college students in dorms on television.  There is something so delicious about the academic seclusion it provides.