Balancing social and academic life at university is no easy task especially for a first year. As a student it is tempting to use the first year at university on focusing on the academic experience; however developing a good social life at this time is what will truly set you up for success. Together with being away from home for the first time or dealing with financial issues, one of the biggest challenges that faces first years as new students is finding a balance between the academic and social spheres of university life and social life is more challenging because one finds that even though it is the academics that brought you to the university, social life is what will help you settle in to your academic life and as the maxim goes, show me your friends and I will tell you who you are .
It is very easy for a first year to be overwhelmed after being presented with this freedom especially if they lack self- discipline. Academic is what everyone else is accustomed to and is prepared for as opposed to aspects of social interaction. The lecturers and other faculty members are trained at least most if not all on guiding students in their academic life. This is what makes social life more challenging because there is a vacuum as the first years receive no proper orientation and preparations to handle the changes happening to their social lives. If first years could get someone to impart them with social knowledge, then they would save a lot of time spent in trying to settle in and that time would be directed to their academics which would make a very big difference.
The first year of university does count the most because how you start usually determines how you finish. It is the foundation of all your preceding years at the university. Even though at most institutions first year marks do not contribute to the final grade, this does not mean it will not impact your degree. University is vastly different to School and the first year is essentially designed to teach you how to do your second and third years and the social life you set up in your first year will equally impact how you do your second and third years respectively until you get your degree, if you manage to get it in the first place. Most first years are tempted to use this free year as an excuse to be preoccupied on having the university experience, their view being to studying harder when it actually counts. This is a wrong approach which sets up many students to a lot of hardships and eventual failure in their course at the University.
However, for the past couple of years, I have heard that a lot of first-year students worry about not knowing what exactly to prioritize between their social life and their academic life not knowing which one should come first in their concern. First of all, you are at University for an education in order to do something with your life after completing your studies, so obviously academic life is very important. On the other hand, you are also at University to make friends as well as develop relationships that will last a lifetime. The problem is that they are both important, however academics is ranked higher because after all you do not pay tuition fees to interact with people but to do academic work, that is what every student has paid for and as a first year you should have your priorities right. Although some may argue that neither should rank higher, based on what is at stake especially financially, one should focus more of the academic aspect and dedicate lesser time to socializing. Realistically speaking, academics is more important as having a college degree gives you a better chance of making a living and first years should get in the act of making sure that they get their moneys worth given how expensive Universities are.
Another main reason why social life is more challenging than academic life for a first year student is because there are students who fall into the timetable trap. Fist year students often find themselves with as few as six contact hours a week which some students end up sacrifice going out with friends when they make plans, while there are those who sacrifice their academic work for the sake of going out. It is important for first years to learn how to make a conscious effort to follow a loosely structured weekday. This way they will rarely miss out on anything and they will find their academic work will not start to suffer. Having a social life is something you are going to need to have as a first year. Being all by yourself especially during this year is very lonely, and having no one to talk to or do things with can become discouraging. This makes it paradoxical given the little free time students have in the midst of all the lectures, lessons, assignments and familiarizing with the whole new academic and social experience. It is only logical to see first years losing their ground on social life as they luck the proper guidance. Though academics cannot guarantee you a one way ticket to wealth but it is something many companies are in the lookout for.
First years should take University as an experience like no other and if they manage to find that balance then they will get the opportunity to enjoy every aspect to its fullest. Swaying from one extreme to the other is not a pleasant experience and one has got to understand that it is the social life you keep that will ultimately have the largest impact on your academic life. We humans are social beings and choosing friends wisely will help in finding a happy medium making it possible to enjoy the best of both the academic and the social life that university has to offer. One thing for sure as a first year if one instead focuses on finding the balance between work and play, between social life and academic life you will seriously reap the fruits when second year rolls around. This can first be achieved by streamlining your social life, being friends with people who will propel you forward in your academic life. This way, not only will one be able to save themselves from the panic of the leap between first and second year marking criteria, but this way as a first year one will also be better prepared to fit in some kind of social life around their academic work now that each mark officially counts.
Cuseco. (2010). College Success Principles. Conway: Hendrix College.
Hanover Student Body. (2010). Social Life VS. Academic Life...What Should I Focus On?? Hanover: Hanover Collage Press.
Pitt, M. (2014, September 24). Balance your social and accademic life at University. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/student-life
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