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Students with overloaded schedules strive to find balance

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For most students, time management is key to working with an overloaded schedule. | Photo courtesy of Laura Simony/ Flickr
For most students, time management is key to working with an overloaded schedule. | Photo courtesy of Laura Timoney/ Flickr

Alarm clocks and cups of coffee are essential to the life of almost any college student, but especially to those who are not enrolled full time, but have a full-time schedule outside of classes.

At Colorado State University-Pueblo, 12 credit hours declare a full-time student and, in general, 40 hours declare a full-time job. Between practices, trainings, games and travel time athletic schedules vary, but they take a lot of time commitment.

Abigail Holak, a junior social work major, is enrolled in six more than that. She is currently taking 18 credit hours and is a member of the Pack women’s lacrosse team. Between weekly practices and trainings alone, the athletics part of her schedule totals to over 17 hours. This does not include games or travel time to away games.

The most difficult part, Holak said, is “just being really exhausted from my sport and it takes a lot mentally and physically and I would like to devote some of that time to school but I can’t usually.”

Finding time for homework, rest and socializing can be challenging. Holak is typically awake around 19 hours on a typical weekday.

“I don’t really have a lot of free time so most of my free time is spent doing homework,” she said. “Well my family is far away so I don’t get to talk to them very much, but … it’s good living with my friend because she is always by me so I can talk to her anytime I want … and some of my friends are on the team so I see them every day.”

Mass communications major Zach Hillstrom works between 35 and 40 hours per week and is currently enrolled in 12 credit hours at CSU-Pueblo. On a typical weekday, he is awake for around 18 hours. He commutes to campus from Colorado Springs, a drive that takes away additional time from his schedule.

“A typical weekday for me consists of school in the morning and afternoon, and then work in the evening. I am usually down in Pueblo on campus … on Monday and Tuesday from 10 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.), and then at work from 5 (p.m.) to around midnight,” he said.

Juggling a full-time schedule both academically and otherwise presents obvious challenges of exhaustion, stress and hectic time management.

“Planning ahead I guess is the most critical element in balancing all of those aspects of my life. I do so poorly sometimes but when I am able to successfully plan ahead it always helps,” Hillstrom said.

According to CSU-Pueblo career services and employee relations specialist, Megan Gregorich, other challenges can include “being overwhelmed, not having enough time to complete homework and keep good grades, not being able to participate in campus organizations and activities, not getting the full college experience.”

Despite the stress in an overloaded schedule, Holak finds the good within the busiest parts.

“The best part of being a full time athlete being a part of the team and setting goals because it makes me feel a sense of accomplishment,” she said, “and the best part about being a student is the social work program is amazing here and just thinking of the future and all those that I’ll get to help in the future.”

Hillstrom relies on caffeine to get him through the hectic days.

“Luckily we have plenty of readily available coffee on campus and the restaurant I work in has an espresso machine so a combination of caffeine and the drive to finish school and make money are what keep me going,” he said.

Through learning time management skills between full-time course loads and full-time schedules, Gregorich said it is important that these students remember “to not stretch yourself too thin. You need to find a good balance.”