Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How do you know if you're overloaded in student life?

I am a huge believer in getting involved in college; it helped me win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships, and I've seen it do that and much more for so many students.

However, can you be too involved? Should you ever quit your leadership position in a club? How do you know the difference between quitting and prioritizing? 

A student recently asked me a similar question at advice@communitycollegesuccess.com, and I hope my answer can help you too if you're ever feeling overloaded, or if you want to double-check your involvement strategy to ensure you're on track.

And If you have advice for this student, please share in the comments section below, and I'll make sure he sees it! :)

Student email

How do know when you've overextended yourself in community college?  I began this year with high hopes and high expectations for myself, only to just now feel the fatigue from my double secretary role. Both of my clubs demand lots, and I usually shoot to exceed expectations, but I am beginning to feel mentally and physically drained. 

My grades are beginning to slip; my goal was to make nothing lower than a B while I'm in a club as an officer. I spoke with my professors last week, and everyone of them said that I had the same grade, a solid C....

Both of my presidents have said to me at one point or another that they'd like me to take over for them next year once they graduate. I have not accepted either offer, but I feel as if I did it in a sort of nonchalant or sarcastic fashion, so I'm unsure if they got the message.

I guess I am coming to you for our advice before I make any rash decisions. I have attempted to step down from one of my clubs, but due to the completely new officers not willing to take over, I was unwillingly given another year on top of my position with SGA.

What should I do?
My response

Hi ----,

This is a great question! 

If your grades are suffering it is definitely time to re-adjust. Your instincts are right on here. I'm a huge believer in getting involved in college because it develops your leadership skills, professional skills, social life, and qualifies you for scholarships. However, getting involved should always be second to your academic success.

You are capable of straight A's, so if you're not getting that and you feel like it's because you aren't spending enough time preparing for your classes and exams, then it is indeed time to downsize.

When I was in community college I was the President of our Phi Theta Kappa chapter - and that's it! I poured my heart into growing the club, developing a great team, and putting on new events for our chapter. But I said no to everything else. That way, I was able to maintain a 4.0 and still gain great leadership experience. When it comes to getting involved, if you have to choose, I think its better to go deeper than wider (i.e. invest in one club versus many).

So think about the club from which you think you are gaining the most professional and leadership experience and in which you feel you can do the most (e.g. grow it, start events, make an impact on campus, etc.). And then just let that be your involvement. Commit to making a real impact on your campus, but don't feel guilty about saying no to everything else.

Remember that your grades must be #1. If you still feel like your grades are suffering, don't be afraid to step down from all leadership positions in order to re-focus on your academics. There is nothing wrong with that. Remember that your priority is your academic success and degree completion. Academic success without involvement can still take you far, but the opposite can be crippling. 

The ideal is to get fantastic grades and develop your skills through club leadership. But things aren't always perfect, and you are right on with your instincts to know something needs to change, and  I'm so impressed with your thoughtfulness. The biggest mistake students make is not thinking about things like this.

My final advice is that you ask this same question to any professors or advisors you can on your campus, in person. Rally some mentors around you and constantly ask them for help and guidance on what you should do, and for continued help as you continue on your journey.

I hope that helps. You are a great student! 

Sincerely,

Isa

Feel free to send your question to advice@communitycollegesuccess.com. You will always be asked if your question can be shared on the blog, and anonymity is always a priority unless you specify that you'd like to share your name :)

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