With September approaching, it’s difficult to know whether I’ve really changed as a student since April. I’ve often had to give vague and mixed answers to those who ask how I felt about first year. Even as I type this, there are course binders underneath my bed filled with leftover notes. I figured I would read through them once again, giving closure to those courses which had gone so unsuccessfully, but it never seemed to happen (one of the innumerable bad habits I’ve kept as a student).
After first year ended, I felt a wave of guilt over my back. I didn’t pay enough attention to those courses I did manage to complete, and in the last month of classes I stopped caring about the material altogether. Instead of finishing the final projects, I amused myself by digging through the rabbit holes of YouTube, Netflix, and Reddit, and this became more than distraction; it became an addiction. I was staying at my computer not to read through source material and edit my essays, but to watch True Detective. With the return to lectures and course work imminent, I must quickly filter my focus back onto schoolwork. But how can I be sure I won’t succumb to old habits?
When I explained to my parents why my marks plummeted as the year went on, my father told me, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” I’ve shrugged off this advice in the past, but the method seems to be tried and true. When I started the year, I stayed busy with clubs and sports, slept well, and kept to extracurriculars. The time I spent outside of lectures and studying gave me the focus to return to them with fresher mind. Now, having gone through two full semesters, I see that it’s a fine balance: it’s easy to throw yourself into everything that piques your interest, but you typically don’t know where you’ll be in two months’ time. Classwork might swell and you could be busy with a job or a relationship. There are things that simply don’t gel the way they did initially. This is the difficulty of staying busy: keeping your brain satisfied while staying sane with the load you’ve put upon yourself.
Returning to school involves balancing the studying with the personal commitments. Our current post-secondary system is incredibly competitive, forcing many students to overload themselves and believe they need to be in the top percentile to be fulfilled. But if such a student is too overcome with commitments to step back and look at how they are coping personally, it may not be worth the time. Opportunities like the ones in university may come only once, but there’s more than one way to finish the school year.