How to Balance Study and Social Life
How do you juggle a great social life with good grades?
The further you get through high school, the more opportunities you will come your way for amazing adventures with friends. That being said, the further you go through high school the more school work you’ll have to do and the greater the stakes for the work. Hopefully, as you move towards adulthood, your parents will respect your growing independence and allow you to work out the fine balance of study and social alone.
Some people in your life might hold the belief that either your study or social life is far more important than the other.
Some parents and teachers might believe that study is the only thing you should be doing with your time. If you were to follow the advice of a study-obsessed teacher, you might be doing six hours of homework every night.
However, if you only listened to a friend who hates school, they might have you chilling on the couch at theirs every night of the week instead.
Placing value on either only study or only social life will leave you short of many essential skills and affect your wellbeing.
Study is how you maximise the privilege of free education and how to build a complex understanding of the world you live in. The more time you put into study, the more value you will get from education now and in the future. Not to mention how many paths investing time now can open after high school.
However, if you spend all your time studying and none of it socialising, you will run into trouble. Humans are social creatures! Good friends are important for maintaining a little sanity and having support through hard times.
Sometimes people forget great social skills can be just as important for your future as education.
An example is that most people find their jobs through word of mouth — in other words, someone who respects them enough in their social circle to point them towards work opportunities they know of. Learning to build good relationships is an essential skill that will help you in all areas of your life and bring you happiness. It’s short-sighted to believe academic success is the only key to getting a job.
Finding a mid-ground is much harder than holding one of these opinions. It’s about checking in with yourself when it comes to what your priorities are. It’s about building boundaries with yourself about homework time and social time. Finally, it’s about being flexible with your time in a way that allows you to fulfil your desire to study as well as to socialise.
To start with, consider which value you place on both socialising and study. This will help you decide what role each activity will play in your life.
Some questions to ask yourself in order to tease out how important each is to you:
- In general, how much socialising makes you feel connected and socially fulfilled each week?
- What’s more important to you, having a big group of friends or having one or two close friends?
- Does your socialising tend to happen at set times during the week (e.g. sports, extracurriculars) or does it happen at more random times throughout the week (or both)?
- In general, what academic goals do you have?
- What academic goals do you need to achieve in order to do what you want to do after school?
- In general, how much time do you have to dedicate to school work outside of school hours per week?
- In general, do you feel you are a faster or slower worker? (you may wish to think about how this varies between subjects, if it does) – consider this so you’ll know
By thinking about the answers to these questions, you’ll most likely get a good grasp of the weight that both socialising and study should be given in your life. If you place a lot of value on both, this is when you’ll benefit most from becoming good at building boundaries and being flexible. However, these skills will help everyone.
Balancing a number of commitments, whether these are a social life, study, extracurriculars, learning to drive, chores or a job, building boundaries is an essential skill.
Now that you know how important both study and socialising are to you, boundaries are the fences up around your time to ensure there’s enough space for your social life and your study to flourish.
There’s a couple of ways that boundaries can be helpful to maintain a good balance between study and socialising. One good, reliable way to use boundaries is to create a boundary around your study time each day. For example:
“On the weekdays, I study from when I get home at 4 until 6.”
Or “On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I study from 6 – 9.”
Use your experience and the questions you asked yourself earlier to work out how long you’ll need to dedicate to study and homework each week to achieve the results you want. Then, work out the best way to spread the work you have to do for it over the week.
The hardest part of boundaries is you have to stick to them. That means that if you dedicate Monday, Wednesday and Friday to study, and someone asks you to go to the movies on Friday, you’ll have to tell them you can’t because you have to study. Maybe Friday isn’t the best day to set the boundary around if you tend to socialise on Friday! You’ll also have to plan around other weekly commitments like sports.
So how can you set boundaries in such a way that you can make the most of your social life while also ensuring that you protect the time you need to study?
Build a Level of Flexibility into Your Boundaries
So you know you need to study nine hours a week to get the results you want. You find the best way to divide up these study sessions is into three three-hour sessions.
Your boundary is “On three weeknights, I need to do a three-hour study session.”
Now, if you know you’ve got a birthday party on Friday, you’ll know to plan the study sessions for the first four days of the week.
This boundary means you can also say yes to spontaneous hangouts, so long as you have a day remaining where you don’t need to study. If you get the study done on days where you haven’t got anything else on, you’re likely to get a good dose of socialising done alongside enough study to reach your goals.
Sometimes it can be hard to say no, but you’ll likely get into a situation where you have to turn down a spontaneous hangout due to having no free days left.
It takes self-control to say no, but when you have set yourself a boundary, you have to maintain it.
A good way of letting someone know is to tell them “Hey, I’ve gotta get some study to get done tonight, but I’d love to hang out next week if you’re free.” A good friend will respect your reasoning.