Collage of abstract paintings in pink, gold and earth tones

Walking the Tightrope

Bush Week is always a big week. Compared to O-Week, there is less people and less hype, but more partying. People feel more at home, have settled into university life and they often haven’t seen their friends for the whole break. As this was my second Bush Week (and first time being in a leadership position) I was preparing myself for many things this Bush Week – exhaustion being the main one. However, the biggest struggle was easily balancing my extra-curricular activities, organising and going to events and studying.

Unlike O-Week, many students will find that they have lectures and tutorials in Bush Week (and in case you haven’t checked your course outline, tutorials tend to be compulsory). I naively went into this week expecting I would be able to attend most of my lectures and tutorials – I went to six. Six out of a possible twelve. The shocking part is that this number well exceeded the majority of my friends – many of whom did not attend one lecture or tutorial in week 1. We were all too busy organising events, attending things such as Market Day and helping out on stalls, as well as attending the occasional party. This lead me to reflect on my extra-curricular activities and question whether they are worth the sacrifice my grades are facing.

So many students face this difficult situation – we’re told that extra-curricular activities are crucial and give yourself opportunities, but you also need the grades to secure your place once your foot is in the door. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful and humble for all of the opportunities I have been given from being involved with leadership positions, Clubs and Societies and other groups.

However, after Bush Week, I can’t help but wonder whether taking on these extra-curricular activities was the best idea. There is a fine line for university students. We are encouraged to have fun and get involved, whilst simultaneously told to place a huge emphasis on studying. Nothing specifically states when we should start prioritising studies over extra-curricular activities, and when it’s okay to enjoy yourself. I’ve seen so many students struggle to find a balance between the two and this leads to a magnitude of problems – overcommitting, burning out, grade dropping and having no time to rest.

However, what is possibly most concerning is that these students often have little time to take care of themselves and their wellbeing. I have personally found it incredibly difficult to find the time needed to address my mental health problems whilst balancing extra-curricular activities, studies and a job. There are mechanisms in place, such as Access and Inclusion, bursaries and people to speak to that can help you establish a balance give you support (and I would highly recommend looking into these). However, even finding the time to organise these things can be incredibly difficult when you have assignments due, events to organise, meetings to attend and a job to go to.

Right now, I know I am personally feeling overwhelmed at the semester ahead. Trying to balance responsibilities, extra-curricular activities and a job whilst maintaining a decent grade is incredibly daunting. However, something I stand by is that prioritising your wellbeing (which for some people, does includes socialising and going out with friends) is more important than any extra-curricular activity or assignment.

Just try to go to SOME of your tutorials.