Balancing your workload and social life

If you're the first in your family to go to university you may not have seen how others balance their workload, commitments and social life. Here are suggestions from students who have achieved success through their time management.

Juggling New Experiences

Managing new experiences and responsibilities as well as existing commitments can be a challenge. It helps to know how other students have managed similar situations.

  1. Devise a flexible schedule allowing time for study, extracurricular and social activities and any of your other commitments or interests. A good balance will mean you have enough time to study, get a good night’s sleep and it may even help you save money.

  2. Focus on one thing at a time and prioritise your tasks. Don’t overwhelm yourself by worrying about everything. When you’re studying give all your attention to your work. When you’re at work or out having fun, forget about study.

  3. Devise some time saving strategies. If you catch public transport, do your readings on the way to uni. Try pre-preparing meals and freezing them so you spend less time cooking dinner and you have something for lunch the next day.

Balance Your Workload

  • Be a little more flexible with your normal routines. Don’t let a messy house or overgrown lawn make you feel stressed. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, ask your family or friends to pitch in and help you out.

  • Consider taking on just two or three units per session as uni work can be more challenging than you expect. You can increase or decrease units quite easily before each census date. You need to check the details about how to add or drop units and what deadlines apply.

  • Appreciate your time at uni because it’s a unique experience. Make your study/life balance work so you can enjoy the fun side of uni without letting your grades slip.

  • Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. The session is a short 13 weeks so stay focused. Remember, you can only do so much, so it’s okay to say ‘no’ sometimes.

  • Help is available. Give yourself time to develop the necessary academic skills and to settle in. Have realistic goals for this period and don’t set the bar too high!

Communicate with Family and Friends

  • Keep your family and friends in the loop about your university workload. That way they can be involved in your life without overloading you during your busiest times. It’s also a good idea to use them as a sounding board for ideas and issues with your work and assignments.

  • Celebrate your successes with your family. Sharing your achievements with them gives them a chance to congratulate you and have a better appreciation of your goals and aspirations.

  • Let your friends and family know your schedule and routine. Having a good understanding of your schedule and the expectations on you may also help them be more supportive and encouraging.

  • Make sure to make time for family and friends. When you are most stressed, and you just want to hide or cram for an exam, some time with people you care about will do you good. In the end it’s people and relationships that matter most.

Western Sydney U Tip

Whether you’re looking for a group to socialise with or just someone to say ‘hello’ to in a tutorial, we offer many opportunities to make those all-important connections that can make a positive difference to your experience as a student.

Clubs and Societies

There is a wide range of clubs and societies including course related, cultural, social, political, religious, music art etc.

Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS)

A free and voluntary student-centred learning program. In PASS you will meet and work with other students to understand the content of your unit/s and develop study strategies to help improve your academic performance.

MATES

Mentoring and Transition Equals Success (MATES) is a program that links trained and experienced student mentors with first year students for the first six weeks of session.

Tips for Your Family and Friends

For a new student who is the first in their family or group to go to university it can be lonely. How can you help your friend or family member to maintain their important family and social connections while they study at uni?

Here are some suggestions for families and friends.

  • Give the student time to adjust to what is expected of them at university. Try not to project your own desires onto the student.

  • If the student is living at home give them some space. Don’t be surprised if they don’t come home at regular times; however you might want to negotiate some boundaries and clear rules for them to let you know their whereabouts to avoid stress and worry.

  • Certain times of the year will be busier than others and will require students to focus a great deal more on their studies.

  • Negotiate. Quieter times during a university session may not correspond with family commitments or other social engagements. Be creative about finding time for family and friends to be together without distractions.

  • Discuss changes in family roles before they develop into confusion and tension. Uni can have an impact on everyone’s routine, especially for mature age students.

  • Try not to give too much advice. This is the time for the student to take responsibility for their own learning. Encourage them to trust themselves, and trust that they can do this.

  • Attend University events such as My Course Planning or Orientation, to get an idea of what university is like. There are also Parents and Partners information events that run before the teaching session starts.

  • The university experience will be new to all of you, so ask them to involve you in aspects of university life where possible. You will be better able to lend your support if you understand what they are facing.

  • Encourage the student to take some preparation programs or workshops to help smooth the transition into university level reading and writing.

  • Encourage the student to expand their support network by developing a relationship with their academics, university counsellors and support staff. The more people lending a hand, the better.

  • Help the student stay positive and maintain their focus and perseverance. Remind them of their achievements leading up to university and since they started.

  • Celebrate successes and don’t linger on failures.

  • Remember, the student is still the same person they were before going to uni. They might learn new skills, see themselves or the world a little differently, but they are still the same person you always loved and cared about.

Making Social Connections

  • Get involved in extracurricular activities. This is a great way to make friends, have fun and avoid burnout.

  • Introduce yourself to others in your tutorials. Getting to know the people in your tutorial is handy for study group sessions and can lead to great friendships.

  • Seek advice from students or tutors who have already been through the uni process. Ask them for advice and ideas about resources that can help you survive at uni. Having someone to give you non-academic feedback and show you the ropes can be invaluable.

  • Build up a list of contacts and support people. Make sure you have a good support network of teachers, family, friends, employers and even counsellors who know you and your situation and want to help you succeed.

  • Balance is important. Be disciplined, prioritise your studies but remember variety can also make you sharper. Don’t neglect your social life, it’s important that you make time to pursue your interests and unwind.