While in graduate school, especially in a student affairs program, opportunities to get involved are all around us. Though it can be an exciting time to learn, bond with classmates, and possibly work an assistantship, it can be a very taxing experience tying to juggle all components. So, how do we as graduate students find a balance?
From personal experience, it has been difficult to say no to opportunities, positions, or volunteering time that may help me grow as an emerging SAPro. I often think, “This will look great on my resume!” or, “One more thing wouldn’t hurt…right?” Though we are all given the opportunity to flourish during our graduate careers through opportunities provided by faculty, colleagues, and campus professionals, when does it become a disservice to us and the students we serve when we take on too much?
Here are a few tips to help you decide what to take on and how to know when you’ve taken on too much:
1. Write learning outcomes/goals for your overall graduate school experience.
Learning outcomes can focus your wants and needs in deciding which experiences are beneficial and centered towards your learning.
Some questions to ask yourself during this process:
- What functional areas do I want exposure to?
- What do I want from my graduate school experience?
This doesn’t just have to include your educational experiences! It is important to remember your time should include outside forces like travel and exploration!
2. Evaluate your time management and most importantly YOUR TIME!
I am a huge proponent of evaluating how much time per week I am devoting to coursework, my assistantship, and outside experiences. If you can evaluate how much time you can/should be committing to each area, you can gauge when it may be time to slow down and focus on what is already on your plate.
If it is starting to seem like your day to day schedule is filling up, you are bouncing from one program to the next with only minutes to spare, and you are pulling more all-nighters then you are used to, it’s time to reevaluate your experiences.
3. Make a self-care list.
It is important to acknowledge that everyone’s self-care looks a little different. It is crucial to identify techniques that work for you and can create a balance for your individual lifestyle. I personally re-evaluate and change up my self-care list weekly to fit the ever-changing schedule of season, coursework, and assistantship duties.
4. Find a mentor.
I recommend finding a mid to senior level professional that you can have open discussions with about opportunities and ultimately where you see yourself going in the future. Establishing mentorship with a veteran SAPro can be beneficial when deciding on opportunities to not only fit your graduate school experience, but also your job search criteria. Personally I know sometimes it can be so hard to say no to a new opportunity and that it takes an honest conversation with my mentor to bring me back down and help me realize, “It’s going to be okay and in the end you will be successful.”
In closing, remember, it’s okay to have just a few experiences and still secure a great career!