By CARMEN COLE
Balancing college life is like walking a tight rope — trying to meet the demands of school, church and a social life. And don’t forget the physical needs of your body — good nutrition and sleep, to name a couple.
For many it may seem like everyone wants a piece of them, and more than one student may have fallen (or failed) when he or she couldn’t meet the many demands on his or her time, energy and money.
Dimensions of Wellness
All is not lost, however. BYU has many resources and counselors who can help students learn how to balance life. Doug Bell is an associate clinical professor in the Counseling and Career Center. In his 20-plus years at BYU, Bell has also been both director of registration and director of admissions and wrote a book called “Study and Learning.”
“Learning to manage your time and balance your life is an essential skill to be successful in college,” Bell said.
Bell gives six dimensions of wellness essential to a balanced life: intellectual, occupational, physical, spiritual, emotional and social development.
Enjoying each dimension is essential to a balanced life, but students may not know the importance of each dimension or how to effectively balance them.
Bell compared the necessity of a balanced life to the tire on a bicycle. Each dimension of wellness makes up one of the spokes on the tire. If a student rides his or her bicycle without one of the spokes — or necessary dimensions — “your life will kinda thump; it doesn’t roll smoothly,” Bell said.
“There are just some basic things people need to learn to do,” he said. “But when they come to BYU, they’re on their own. They don’t have their parents or other mentors to coach them. There are plenty of people to help them but (they) often choose to do it on their own.”
“There are a lot of people who spend a lot of time (in one area),” said Stacey Holdaway, a student paraprofessional in the Career and Learning Information Center. “As a freshman, the biggest struggle (for me) was balancing social and intellectual (dimensions). You’re so excited (to start school), and you want to have the most friends.”
Bell said the dimension he has seen students neglect most is physical — sleep especially. He said about 80 percent of the students he’s talked with stay up until 1 a.m. every day or sleep in too long in the morning.
“Students need to learn to say ‘no’ to play and ‘yes’ to … studying (and) regular exercise,” Bell said.
Holdaway said some students come into the Career and Learning Information Center thinking they can attack college, taking 18 credits and not needing time to play. Then there are those on the other extreme, who party all the time. No matter which extreme of life, for many freshmen, the first semester of college brings them their worst grade point average, she said.
“A truly balanced person is someone who can have different parts of their life in balance with each other, and in moderate levels,” said Holdaway, a junior from Santa Clarita, Calif., majoring in communications. “I truly believe prioritizing is the most important aspect of time management.”
On the other hand, however, Holdaway said the first step to a balanced life is to rely on the Lord. She said one of the best things about BYU’s counseling centers “is being able to prioritize on foundations of the gospel.”
BYU’s approach to life centers on Jesus Christ, setting BYU apart from other colleges because students can be counseled on the needs of the whole person, not just the academic side of life. The eternal perspective can help students set realistic expectations.
College is hard. Bell said this is evident from the number of students placed on academic warning each semester. “They underestimate the competition and effort needed to succeed academically,” Bell said.
Bell said freshmen, as a whole, need to realize that a high school effort isn’t enough to make it in college.
Jeff Holdaway, Stacey’s brother and a senior majoring in history, works for Degrees by Independent Study, counseling people on what they need to do to get their bachelor’s degree. Jeff said the difference between the demands of high school and college is that college brings more freedom and with that comes more responsibility.
“You can get a lot more out of college because it’s up to you,” he said. “I think both your accomplishments and your enjoyments are greater because it’s self-derived.”
Stacey said having realistic expectations is summed up in the old adage “Success is getting up one more time than you fall down.”
Take Advantage of BYU’s Resources
Jeff said the campus provides many opportunities — like the library, labs and entertainment — of which students can take advantage. These things all have varying degrees of attractiveness, but ultimately, “what you go after depends on you,” he said.
Being an international student can bring other elements of worry and change, but the Orientation for International Students tries to alleviate these.
Luesha Sedore, a sophomore from Cobourg, Ontario, majoring in art and a student paraprofessional in the CLIC, said the school system at BYU is different than at home. Many of her teachers expected her to know basic things like the grading scale and the methods of writing a paper. Sedore said an 80 to 100 percent is an A in Ontario.
“It was weird,” she said. “But (attending) Orientation for International Students was very helpful, so I had no excuse for not knowing.”
Some of BYU’s resources under the Counseling and Career Center are the Career and Learning Information Center (378-2689, 2590 ELWC), Biofeedback Lab (stress management, 378-7261, 1586 ELWC) and Open-Major Advisement (378-3826, 2500 ELWC), besides each college’s advisement center and the Reading and Writing Lab in 1010 JKHB (378-4306).
Bell also recommends that students utilize their spiritual leaders and leaders in Freshman Academy or their on-campus housing residents, Women’s Resources and Services, and Student Life.
The Counseling and Career Center offers workshops year-round in 2562 ELWC on the following topics: choosing a major and career, communication, financial management, listening and note taking, memory, overcoming procrastination, stress management, test taking, time management, textbook comprehension and women and careers.
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When discussing the dimensions of wellness, Bell also emphasized the four aims of a BYU education: “spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, character building, leading to lifelong learning and service.”
“That’s what BYU is all about: (to) get a healthy dose of those four elements. Every class should show how to strengthen character. That’s what college does to everyone. It’s just a wonderful place to be,” Bell said.