The start of the semester always brings a sense of promise. Despite the ups and downs of last semester, you’ve been blessed with a clean slate and a chance to make wiser decisions. But if you don’t know how to effectively schedule classes, you might find yourself spiraling down a path of self-destruction. Something so small as a click of a button registers you for what might be too big a load, and determine whether or not you’ll maintain that 4.0—or your sanity.
Sophomore year I transferred to the University of Maryland, looking for a challenge. I wanted to get the education and motivation my pricey tuition guaranteed I would receive. Most importantly, I wanted to graduate in four years despite my decision to swap schools. Yet, the moment I finalized my schedule ultimately determined my fate to a rough semester.
I never imagined that scheduling six classes would cause me to study painstakingly and lose so much sleep. I mean, I knew college was supposed to be hard but my new schedule threw me into a league I wasn’t cut out for. How could I not have guessed that more classes would equal more work?
For the entire semester I chased after my grades. I went from being on top of my classes, to tracking the exact percentages I needed to pass them. I’d stay up to the early morning trying to balance studying for a Journalism 200 exam and completing an English essay for the same day.
Most professors treat their class like it’s the only class you take. There were times when I just wanted to jump in front of a professors face and shout, “Hey! I have other s—t to do!” Finding time for my Netflix re-runs? Forget it. Keeping up with my homework required so much effort that I barely had enough time to study for the bigger things like quizzes or exams. Eventually, I began to weigh which assignments were worth sacrificing.
I became a zombie, exhausting my brain to its maximum capacity every day. Two to four cups of coffee were just enough to keep my eyes open. The days and the weeks started blending together; night and day were no longer divided and 24 hours simply weren’t enough. Saturdays were what I’d call “half-break day,” spending what little time I wasn’t working to sleep in or watch a movie with my sister, while praying the clock would go slower.
Every day I wondered if this would be the day my body would finally give up and crash. Then one day, it did. I found myself lying on my bed, tons of homework left neglected: an English novel yet to be read, a textbook chapter glaring at me from my laptop screen and a grammar quiz with the time for its completion ticking. Then I cried, slept, woke up and realized the world kept moving whether I shed a tear or not. I felt with cold dread the bitter truth that I would’ve failed anyway since I dug myself too far in a hole.
I didn’t realize the stress was getting so serious that it took a toll on my health; I found myself in the hospital suffering palpitation, anxiety and bouts of depression.
I believe that the biggest tragedy, aside from witnessing how drastically my GPA and health plummeted, was not taking the time to enjoy the University of Maryland the way I wanted to. The one bright side to the constant stress, though, was that it taught me where my limits. After hitting rock bottom, I realized my life needed balance. I wanted to take the classes that I wanted to take, not just needed. I wanted to have enough time to explore my interests like film and tennis through extracurricular activities. I wanted to find an internship that could give me the chance to write. Finding my equilibrium between classes and life helped me achieve all of these desires.
Every semester, we register for not just classes, but a lifestyle. It takes one click and you’re set. After my first semester at the University of Maryland, I came to realize that my life outside of the classroom was just as important. My health, my relationships and of course, my Netflix account are now put first. Nothing feels better than finding your inner balance.