In the past I’ve advocated getting involved in campus organizations while at TCU.It’s a great way to make new friends, explore areas of interest, take a break from classes, get a little recreation and maybe even serve the TCU community in some way.
But you should be careful about spreading yourself too thin.
Getting involved in too much can be just as detrimental to the overall college experience as not getting involved at all.
It’s basic logistics, really. If you have to split the 168 hours in a week between Student Government Association, Concert Chorale, your fraternity or sorority and your job at the University Recreation Center, that doesn’t leave much time for the basics like classwork, eating, sleeping and just generally relaxing. (Note: That list is not based on any individual but rather is a random assortment of organizations to belong to.)
Trust me, it’s not something you want to try. I can say from personal experience that spreading yourself too thin makes just about everything in your life suffer.
In my time at TCU, I’ve been involved in the TCU band program in various ensembles and held several different jobs at the Daily Skiff and Image magazine. Having to spend six hours a week at marching rehearsal and however much time it is that I end up spending at the Skiff – I’d usually rather not think about adding up the hours – on top of classes and everything else going on in my life has proved to be too much some semesters. So what ends up happening? My performance at work suffers. My grades start to drop. My stress level skyrockets. I don’t get enough sleep, leading to more frequent colds, lack of energy more often than I’d like and in general, a lower proficiency at doing just about anything.
Most of the time, I’ve been able to handle it. There have been times, though, that I’ve had to take a step back from things and decrease my involvement so I can take care of what is absolutely necessary and maybe even keep some sanity.
I’ve had dozens of friends whose stories of over-involvement mirror my own. A couple friends had to take a semester off from some of their activities or even school itself. I’ve even known a few who dropped out of school entirely because they did too much and found it too stressful.
It’s easy to let this happen. The first thing you think is that you have time for this, then enough time left for that, and can then just squeeze the other in between things. Or you find something you like, get involved with that, and then find something else you enjoy doing as well, and don’t want to drop anything. Then you say to yourself: “I just need the 15 hours a week for classes,” not taking into consideration any study time or anything else. And next thing you know, you’re up to your ears in activities, and suddenly you’re stuck, not wanting to drop anything.
How, then, can you avoid doing too much for yourself to handle? It’s actually pretty simple.
After a semester or so of being involved in some organization, you should know how much time it takes to be a member of that group. Even if you plan to serve in some other capacity in that same organization, you should still know how much time it will take out of your day, week, month or whatever. Freshman year is a perfect time to find these things out as you’re exploring what organizations and subjects might interest you.
If there are several things you enjoy doing, it might become necessary to add up all the time it takes to be involved in all those activities. Then add up how much time you feel you have to spend on schoolwork and studying. Finally, figure in 56 hours a week for sleeping, and a few more hours for eating and relaxing. If in doubt, err on the side of caution. Does all that add up to more than 168 hours a week? If so, you should know that you need to drop something or else be prepared to have at least some of those things suffer from lack of proper attention.
At some point, sacrifices have to be made in favor of preserving your grades, your sanity or whatever. You may not like it, but you might have to step down from SGA, give up Chorale, not take that officer position in your Greek organization or quit your job at the Rec Center.
It’s important to get involved while you’re on campus, but it’s just as important to make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin. Trust me on that.
Jarod Daily is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Keller.