Though I’ve only been here a little over a month, one of the most defining aspects of my Hopkins experience thus far has been living life as a student athlete. I am a member of the Varsity Swim Team, and not only has the student athlete life been a blast, but it has also taught just how important time management is, especially in light of my recent round of midterms.
See, during my freshman year of high school, I officially became a ‘real’ swimmer, meaning I started practicing in the morning, before school. This meant waking up at 3:53 AM every morning, swimming from 4:30-6:30 AM, going to school, somedays doing a second two hour practice, then finding time for homework and most importantly, sleep. Though my collegiate schedule isn’t quite as grueling in terms of what time I wake up, I still have to be on top of everything, and make sure I have enough hours in the day to dedicate to studying, having fun, and sleeping.
Today I finished my first round of midterms, which both fortunately and unfortunately, dragged on for about four weeks. Though this meant I didn’t have more than one exam to worry about during a single week, it still meant that I had to keep up the classic midterm ~this test is worth (enter ridiculously high number)% of your grade, you have to really study~ mindset for all four weeks.
Though I’d love to say I balanced everything with perfect ease, that I aced all my midterms, and that I rocked swim practice every time I got in the pool, I’d be lying. Midterms were hard, but not unmanageable, and I actually did pretty well. I feel like theres always a learning curve everyone goes through during the first exam of a class — it takes time to learn the professor’s testing strategy, and what information you’re actually expected to know. I know that when the next midterms roll around in a couple weeks, I’ll be infinitely more prepared.
I think one of the reasons I was able to handle the stress of midterm season was because of the set schedule I have to adhere to. When you’re stressed out for a test, its easy to prioritize studying over the other important things that are still imperative to success, like getting a good nights sleep, exercising regularly, and eating well. Often, I find that I’ll actually do better on a midterm of I forego an extra two hours of late night studying and instead just sleep, and find that I am more refreshed if I do a hard swim practice before a test rather than just roll out of bed. (I’m the true definition of a morning person if you can’t tell.)
Above all, I think the key to balancing it all is simply finding your stride. For me, that meant falling back on what I know works for me, knowing that every challenge is finite, and that all you have to do is just keep swimming.