How to Balance Work and Self-Care in College

One of the largest problems new college students struggle with is making sure all their work gets done. With fun clubs, hanging out with friends, or participating in events on campus, there eventually will come a struggle to decide between fun and grinding out work. As with all things in life, the way you manage your time is all about finding balance: a balance between what you want to do, and what you need to do. While they’re not necessarily the same thing, there can also be some overlap.

I won’t be able to sit here and tell you how much time you specifically should devote to homework, or how much you should put into playing games with friends, because it varies from person to person. However, there are a few key factors that each student should account for as they start the semester.

Work Load

As the semester starts to ramp up, the amount of work you receive will increase, coursework will become more difficult, and the amount of time required for papers or projects will lengthen. I end up struggling to keep my head above the water at times. Luckily, Houghton College provides several resources to help students like me stay afloat.

The college just constructed a new student center where students can go to receive help. It provides a whole range of programs and help options, including paper proofreading at the writing center, and help to learn good study habits at the Academic Support and Accessibility Services office.

I use the writing center all the time. There are a bunch of tools online that can help you write a paper and make sure it’s the best it can be, but sometimes it’s better to go find a friendly person who knows exactly what a professor is looking for. The writing center will work through the assignment with you, instead of for you, so that you can become a better writer, instead of becoming reliant on another tool.

The plus side of attending a small school like Houghton is that if the workload ever becomes too much, you have a personal relationship with each professor. I have gone to a professor several times saying that I just don’t have time to manage all my assignments. They are amazingly understanding and willing to help.


People often will say that the reason to come to college is to learn, and that your studies need to come first. Something I find more important, and something that Houghton College emphasizes, is self-care. Giving yourself time for things like sleep, eating and relaxation is incredibly important. It’s like what they tell you on an airplane, in case the oxygen masks come down. Put your own mask on before helping others or doing other things. If you aren’t feeling your best, then even if you get your work done, it won’t be up to your potential. Papers that I have written while tired are never as good as ones I write when I’m fully rested and awake.


One of the most important things to keep track of is sleep. Setting a good sleep routine is vital. The amount you sleep has shown to directly correlate to your performance and ability in academic work. Having a solid eight hours of sleep is considered a necessity. I can’t say I follow this bit of advice all the time, but I can see the difference in my grades when I do or don’t.


Having time to recoup and enjoy yourself is also incredibly important. As I go through a semester, work can easily become my life. Being able to step back, watch a show or hang out with friends, do some fun light reading or play games can create a nice little break. Something to look forward to as a reward for finishing your work.

The Importance of Balance

Of course, it’s also possible to take too much time for relaxation, but like everything in life, it’s a balance. Houghton College has several programs in place to help students make sure that they are taking the time they need. Between chapel, the events on campus, and the amazing dorm life, the college has a wide range of ways that students can take care of themselves and take the time to recharge.

College life is all about the balance between managing your workload and taking time for self-care. It’s something that almost all students, including myself, struggle with. Houghton, as a Christian college, emphasizes each student as a special individual, and helps prepare us for that balancing act that we’ll need to perform for the rest of our lives.

aaron pixley

Aaron is a junior majoring in media arts and visual communication as well as computer science. He enjoys fencing and playing tennis, and loves the outdoors.