As you may or may not know, there are quite a few things to do with your time at RPI. In fact, one of the hardest things to do here is manage your time well. I, personally, haven’t done it very well this semester.
I’d like to think I’m rather involved on campus. I write for The Poly, I attend Student Senate meetings (because of my role on the newspaper), and I actively participate in the many things that go on with my fraternity. I also have a number of friends with which I enjoy spending time with. And then there are the other hobbies I have: video games, writing, reading, coding, watching various movies, and television shows.
However, I have to balance these things with the classes I’m taking. That’s where I’ve screwed up. So far, I’ve missed a decent number of lectures and messed up some quizzes and even an exam. I mean, I’m not exactly failing anything; I’m just not doing as well as I’ve done in the past.
I know that there is a significant number of students on campus who can relate to my situation. College lasts for only four years (maybe more if you go on to graduate work), and students want to make the most of it. I guess the most important thing to remember is that the main reason for being here is to get an education. And, sometimes, that means toning down on extracurricular activities.
At the same time, I’m not suggesting you focus solely on your schoolwork. Sure, maybe that will lead you to a 4.0 GPA, but is it worth it? It might help your job prospects a little bit, but employers also look at the things you’ve done outside of classes. At least, that’s what I’ve been told by various career groups and friends. Besides, if you’re only at RPI to get a good job, I personally think you’re here for the wrong reasons. There are institutions that offer curricula that are much more career-oriented than RPI. And, they’re significantly cheaper.
Anyway, there are plenty of things to do when you’re not in class, working on homework, or studying. There are many clubs associated with every major on campus. For Computer Science majors (which I happen to be), there’s Rensselaer Center for Open Source Software, for one. Nuclear engineers have the American Nuclear Society. Electrical engineers can join the Embedded Hardware Club.
Besides those, there are dozens of clubs that may be completely unrelated to your major. Nothing I do on The Poly, for example (shameless plug, anyone?), is related to computer science. But, I’ve met some amazing people here, and I’ve learned to focus and improve the quality of my writing. It’s also forced me to talk and interact with people I wouldn’t otherwise; this is especially true since I’m a rather shy and quiet person (the people here can attest to that). It’s pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, and I feel that I’m a better person for it.
Going greek, while not for everyone, is another way I’ve broadened my horizons. The individuals who I can happily call my brothers are, again, some of the coolest people I’ve met. I’m sure members of each fraternity and sorority can say the same thing. Granted, since rush is over for this semester, it’s a little late for you to try it now. Next semester, though, you can if you want.
I mention all of these things to show that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) sit in your room staring at formulas, papers, and textbooks all day. It’s a huge world we live in, and there’s so much to do. But, keep everything in moderation; keeping your grades up in your classes should still be one of your priorities. Additionally, if you’re having trouble in classes, don’t be afraid to ask friends for help, or use the many resources on campus (Advising and Learning Assistance Center, office hours, etc.).
I’d also suggest finding a friend who’s active on campus and also has decent grades. Ask them what they do to manage their time. It usually involves being proactive about work and every other activity you choose to participate in. Procrastination and distractions (*cough* video games *cough*), while fun, are the main causes of lower grades and terrible time management. Schedules can help you maintain the standards you want for your life.
Last year, I got a 3.91 GPA during the fall semester and a 3.5 during the spring. I doubt I’ll match that this semester, but if I even hope to do so, I should probably stop messing around and take my own advice. If you’re in the same boat, you might want to think of doing the same.