The good old days, last month

Maybe we could just turn back time to the first week of school. I mean, it was so much easier when I could talk to classmates about their summer activities and only be concerned with what folder I should use to hold my new syllabus. But, alas, those times are over and to replace them is something I have termed commitment overload.

No, this overload does not concern having multiple love interests and how to balance them, although I know some of you are doing just that. This phenomenon is what I consider the heart of the college learning experience — time management.

Everywhere I turn there is another activity to take my time. Don’t get me wrong – most are worthwhile, given an endless day, but that is not where we find ourselves. I don’t fault the planners of all these events, but I do often wonder who has time to attend a multicultural fair, work out at the gym and sign someone’s petition all at the same time?

Perhaps one of the goals of our college education is really to teach us the time management skills needed to succeed in the ill-defined “real world.” I mean, we constantly hear about cultural diversity and critical thinking skills as catch phrases for collegiate learning, but maybe effective use of our time trumps them all.

Before you think I am being too preachy, know that I certainly haven’t figured out how to balance it all. I started this semester just like semesters past – with a clean desk, a nifty daily planner and a fresh set of highlighters.

By the third week, some of my lectures are so confusing that I need someone to help me find the location of where my next class is held. I have been known to abstain from office hours out of fear of not knowing the questions to ask to gain the knowledge I need.

But it will all work out. The University wants desperately to fill my seat with someone new and committed to paying higher tuition in the years to come. In addition, I am sure those before me questioned some of the same things I am now.

So what can we do at this point? Although sitting in the Library talking on our cell phones seems a popular pastime, maybe a little more effort on our part will pay dividends come December.

I know this may sound far-fetched, but give it a try. If it doesn’t work, you can always know that at least you gave it your all.

Participating in a study group can help, if only to determine that there are many others just as lost as you are. One thing I have learned through group learning is that we possess a generational gift. Sometimes we are able to explain concepts better to our peers than a classroom lecture can achieve.

If that doesn’t work, there are other ways to make the most of our time and achieve our goals. Not that I advocate this, but to paraphrase one of my past professors, “If you don’t understand something, just memorize it. You can figure it out sometime later.” After all, from standardized tests to multiple-choice questions — albeit without a fundamental understanding of the subject matter — we are asked to regurgitate, rather than apply.

It is crucial to stay focused while learning how to stay balanced. Whether you are a first-semester freshman or a last-semester senior, there are many of life’s challenges ahead that will test your ability to overcome commitment overload.

Alternate studying with less stressful time devoted to your own interests, and if you happen to find a way to get back to the first week of school let me know, I just might want to make a few scheduling changes.

Aaron Hill is a seniormajoring in economics.