This past winter break, I was speaking with a woman whom would help me get a job after college. Upon looking at my resumé, she looked at me and said, “So you go to Keene State [College], isn’t that where those riots happened?” I was mortified. I didn’t expect that to be brought up and immediately started scrambling for an answer. It then occurred to me that I had to make this woman understand that while Keene State may have a “party school” reputation, most of us know how to balance school and having a social life.
Balancing school and a social life isn’t easy nor is it for everyone. Truthfully, it took me about a year and a half of college before I got the hang of it. I spent much of my first year focusing on school and not going out much. Looking back, it’s probably because I knew that Keene State had a reputation for partying and I was intimidated by it.
But staying in all the time and seeing everyone else going out and meeting new people drove me crazy, so I changed pace and focused on having a life rather than an education. Both my parents and my GPA were not too happy with this decision. It became obvious to me that I needed to learn how to be able to do both.
I decided to make school my first priority, while setting aside time for friends. I’d get back from class and try to finish any homework I had sooner rather than later so my nights could be free for whatever came along.
I think the reason it took me so long to find this balance was because I was a first year. As first years, we are thrown into this atmosphere where we are expected to be completely independent and responsible when we’ve barely just become adults. A lot of the time, the mentality upon entering college is that these are the best years of our lives. High school, for most, was grueling homework and testing in preparation for college; so wouldn’t it make sense to treat college as one big celebration for escaping high school? I know that I personally thought this up until people started asking me what I was going to be doing after college.
Because it’s so easy to indulge in the social side of college, we often forget about the fact that this is our prep time for the “real world.” How you do in college has a lot to do with the kind of job opportunities you’ll receive post-grad. I cannot stress enough that the feeling of not being able to get a job is far worse than the fear of missing out on parties in school.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an active social life while obtaining a good GPA. It’s all about knowing how to balance both. Having friends who understand this need for stability between school and socializing make it worlds easier to find the balance yourself. It’s also important to remember to give yourself a break every once in awhile. While I believe it’s key to put school first and put your best foot forward, you’re still human – if you don’t remind yourself to relax and have fun every now and then, you’ll lose your mind.
Yes, there is a party aspect to Keene State, just as there is with any college. But it’s up to you how much you want to partake in that. You can have both with a little self-control and balance.
Claire Hickey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org