According to society, the ideal college student is one who makes good grades, is involved with 4+ clubs, does intramural sports, volunteers, has a part-time job, is mentally stable and has time for a social life. According to me, I say that's BS.
I fit into 3, maybe 4, of those categories, so I guess you could say that I'm not the ideal college student. When I first came to UNC, I had a list of about 20 clubs that I wanted to join and I had a mental list of the kind of person I wanted to be in college. It went like this:
1. Get good grades
2. Join clubs
4. Have a social life
5. Join intramural sports
6. Get a job
7. Be happy
I'm not sure if you noticed, but there is something seriously wrong with that list. I placed my own feelings at the bottom of my priorities because I was told that I needed to fit into a mold of the so-called perfect college student in order to be deemed successful. I was literally willing to sacrifice my mental well-being for my resumé. Here's the thing: what's expected of us as college students is unrealistic compared to what we actually have time to do. You do not have time in the day to do everything you want and you will probably have to sacrifice a club or activity simply because it conflicts with your classes too much.
Going along with that, there is such a thing as being too involved. Yes, you should get out there and do what makes you happy, but, sometimes, what makes you happy could also make you sad. For example, say you want to join Community Government, but you can't commit to the 2 hour meetings once a week because you have too much homework due the next day. Over time, compromising your academic success for a club could ultimately make you feel not so great. It is perfectly acceptable to take a step back and admit that you're only one person and you cannot and will never be able to do everything.
My advice: make a list of everything you want to do in college. Rank your items from most important to least important and start working slowly toward each of those goals. For example, if you really want to start your own club the first semester you're here, you may need to put off getting a job until your club is organized and functioning. If you really want to get that 4.0 GPA, you may want to only join one club instead of two so you can spend more time studying.
Take my advice with a grain of salt. Everyone is different so it's up to you and only you to decide what you can reasonably do as a college student. If you're still struggling with making your busy schedule work for you, I recommend going to the learning center and talking to one of their representatives about time management because maybe the problem isn't that you want to do too much, but that you're not sure how extra actives can fit into your already hectic schedule.
The one thing I implore you to do is take care of yourself, mentally and physically. Part of what makes college students so stressed is that we don't get enough sleep or exercise or that we aren't placing our mental health at the top of our priorities. Not being healthy, mentally or physically, makes you that much more stressed which makes it that much more difficult to be motivated to achieve your goals.
Overall, I think that society's expectation for us as college students is one that is unfair and unreasonable. We are told that to not be a "certain type of student" is to be a failure or outcast. I want you to know that regardless of how you get involved on campus, whether that be through a cappella, student government. neuroscience club, the Carolina Quarterly, etc., you are making a presence on campus simply be being a part of this community. Don't let others tell you who you should and shouldn't be because, you got here just like everyone else and, just like everyone else, you are allowed to be your own person. Be social, involved, studious, sporty or whatever else you want to be. Be successful not in the way that society wants you to be, but in the way that you want to be.
Lead Image Credit: The Odyssey