by Tom Walsh

After a year over at Monash studying Arts, I was able to transfer across to Law at Deakin, and by that time, I naively thought I had heard it all when it came to helpful study tips. One of the more resounding pieces of advice I had heard from various “O- Week” and friendly peer mentors, was that it was paramount to maintain a healthy balance. I’m sure you have all heard this as well. The problem for me was, that whilst I had HEARD it, I hadn’t LISTENED.

It’s a fine line. When a tutor, lecturer or peer mentor talks about balance, usually it’s just advice that goes in one ear and out the other. “Yeah, I go out and see my mates, I’m not a shut in, I’m fine.” I wanted to detail my experience with learning the difference between believing I had a balance and actually having a proper balance.

Heading into my first year of law, I was intimidated. I was a transfer student surrounded by students who had come straight into the course from high school. Law was the priority, this was my focus for the year. I was of course, still seeing friends and heading out, so in my head, I could rationalise that I had a great balance between study and leisure! However, this was my downfall. I stopped playing footy, I rebuked offers to uni events, I decided societies were too much of a time drainer. I wasn’t a recluse, but I think it has finally dawned on me that whilst I thought I had a great balance between study and leisure, I didn’t really. During the week, especially, I had plenty of time, first year university is not a full time job, nowhere near. There was plenty of downtime, which impacted my study habits. I wasn’t pressed for time, I was complacent, resulting in studying that was fairly inefficient for the majority of the time I had free.

Find what works for you, tinker with your schedule. In my second year, I certainly changed everything up. For myself, it was better that I was busy. I picked up a new sport, I joined the DLSS, and my grades increased dramatically. Of course, correlation does not equal causation, however, keeping myself busy meant I had a lot less downtime, a lot less time to be complacent with my study. When I did study, every minute counted.

If you do hear advice about balance during your tenure at uni, which is almost inevitable, take a moment to really evaluate how you are spending your time. If something isn’t quite working, if your grades are down, or if you feel your balance is ‘off,’ switch it up, try something new, you have nothing to lose!

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