Setting Healthy Boundaries as a College Student

With finals around the corner, it’s important to remember to value your physical and mental health. This starts with recognizing that schoolwork is never more important than your own wellbeing. At the end of the day, grades do not matter as much as you do.

Most students want to do their best academically and see all A’s on their transcript at the end of the semester. Although seeing that 4.0 can be very validating, it is ultimately temporary and does not matter in the long run. Good grades are important, but they aren’t everything.

“During the semester, I always try to make sure that Sunday’s are my day off to relax,” said Jayme Martini, a senior communications student. “I’ll usually make plans with my family or friends, and I’ll use that day to catch up on the things I enjoy. I feel like it gives me a nice little break from school and refreshes me for the upcoming week.”

“I take the week to do all of my work and save the weekends to relax and spend time with my friends. It’s important to reset by doing things that make you comfortable and happy,” added Heather Fusco, a senior communications student. “I like to cook my favorite meals, watch my favorite TV shows, exercise, and go on walks when the weather is nice.”

Balance is key when it comes to maintaining a satisfactory academic standing while allocating enough time to focus on yourself and your own needs. An easy way to achieve this is to start your assignments far enough in advance that you can work on them in shorter intervals – it feels like you’re spending less time on the assignment, but in reality you’re just completing it in small sections over time. This can also help you feel less stressed than if you were to cram the entire assignment in a single sitting. Ultimately, this will help you achieve higher quality work with a fraction of the stress.

Similarly, many students benefit from using planners to track upcoming due dates. If everything is laid out in one place, it’s easier to see what you need to get done and when you need to have it completed by. If you attempt to memorize everything for all of your classes without writing it down somewhere, you’re more likely to forget about things or not leave adequate time to finish what needs to get done.

Staying active is another important thing for students to keep in mind. It can often feel difficult to find time to go to the gym or get outside, especially toward the end of the semester when assignments start to pile up and final exams are looming around the corner. However, good time management and healthy study habits can go a long way in making your days feel longer – when you don’t have to spend hours studying or completing assignments, you have more time to do the things you truly enjoy. Using this free time to get some movement in can go a long way, both physically and mentally. According to the National Library of Medicine, exercise can improve mental health by reducing anxiety and depression. It also improves self-esteem and cognitive function while alleviating social withdrawal. Being active is just as good for your mind as it is for your body, which are both equally important to take care of as a college student.

“I’ve found that making some time for the gym and spending time with friends is important, while at the same time making a schedule to stay organized with my schoolwork and other outside obligations,” said Mia Lewis, a junior health studies student.

“I always try to carve out time in my day to go to the gym, which helps me release some of that nervous, stressful energy I sometimes face during the semester,” said Isabella Hanna, a junior business student.

Along with completing assignments in a timely fashion and keeping track of due dates, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule also goes a long way in creating time for healthy habits and personal interests. If you stay up until the early hours of the morning doing schoolwork, you’re likely going to sleep in and get a late start the next day. Going to bed at a decent time and getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep can make it easier to wake up early and get a productive start to your day. Of course, there are going to be nights where this simply isn’t possible – many students spend hours on end studying and completing final essays or projects toward the end of the semester in a final push to finish out the school year. The occasional all-nighter may be necessary, but it shouldn’t be a common practice. Whatever assignment you’re staying up to finish can be done another time and likely isn’t worth losing sleep over.

Above all else, it’s important to know your limits and remember not to push yourself beyond what you’re capable of. Don’t take on more responsibilities than you can handle, and make every effort to implement good time management skills when it feels like things are piling up and consuming all of your time. The occasional missed assignment or subpar grade isn’t the end of the world. As long as you are happy and healthy, that’s what matters most.

“I always tell myself that you can’t go through life constantly working because then you will burn yourself out. Instead, it’s key to continue to do the things you love in life to ensure your happiness,” said Lewis.

You should also avoid comparing yourself and your workload to your peers. Everyone has different circumstances that affect what they are able to handle on a day-to-day basis. You never know the full extent of what someone is going through, so you should always focus on yourself and what you know you’re capable of, regardless of whether it appears to be more or less than the people around you. At the end of the day, your happiness and what you consider “success” are more important than anything else. If you approach the final weeks of the semester with that mindset, you’ll have a better chance of finishing strong and achieving your goals while maintaining your own physical and mental wellbeing.