The College Triangle Diagram

By now, you’ve likely seen – and started to believe in – the triangle of activities that depicts major ways to spend your time, and the rather foreboding caption stating you can pick two. For the geometrically challenged, the joke lies in the fact that the triangle possesses three sides, and having to eliminate either “good grades,” “social life,” or “enough sleep” is undoubtedly a daunting option. I call it a joke because while it does have a valid use in depicting the increase in difficulty from high school to college, it’s not entirely accurate with the message it’s depicting. So I’ve developed a slightly more accurate college hexagon, and I’ll show you how all six sides are very possible to manage concurrently.

The College Triangle Diagram

1) Good Grades: I’ve often been asked how much of my time on a daily basis goes into classwork. The frustrating answer is that it varies on the semester and the person. I’ve had classes that are inherently work-intensive and courses where the homework is simply difficult, but also those where grade was determined entirely on exams and there was no homework. I’m also the type to push homework to the weekends, so in theory the amount of time I spend working/studying on the average Saturday might extend to all day.

2) Enough Sleep: Sure, you may be getting less sleep with all you’re doing, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t getting enough. Needing ten hours is a little bit unrealistic – wean yourself off it until you can manage a full day on a still-healthy six hours. I make a habit of sleeping for a couple of hours after I get back from class and then grabbing a bite to eat while working. The worst you can do is be in that state of pseudo-sleep where you read the same sentence of the textbook over and over – just crash for a bit, and go at it again when you have the strength.

3) Work: Whether it’s work study, an on-campus job, or a position somewhere in the city, there is indeed space for work. One of my jobs is doing this – writing for the admissions website. When you’re looking for work, you’d ideally want something that has components that can be completed remotely, so you can chip in at your convenience.

4) Research: You may think this varies with your area of study, but you’d likely be surprised by how many departments offer research opportunities – and how many you can go for simply out of interest. The key here is to establish early-on that you’re not going to be able to put in 20 hours a week or what have you – set the expectations to an underwhelming level so you can always manage and surpass them.

5) Good Relationships: And this isn’t just limited to that with a significant other. You’ll unfortunately see firsthand that people drift away unless you actively reel them in. While some of the best friendships are the ones that you can easily pick up after weeks of silence, you won’t have the convenience of that with everyone. Trimming down the number of Facebook friends you have may be of some use – there’s no one who can actually maintain 600 friends.

6) Free Time: This is the category that includes your ‘social life,’ which consequently may contain your party-going, trips to the city, and whatever else you like to do. The key to this is that this time comes naturally – forcing it means that it comes at the price of one of the other ones. There are certain moments where you will undoubtedly feel the need to just get away, and you should follow your instincts on that front as well.

Contact Uday at udaymehta@berkeley.edu or follow him on Twitter at @mehtakid

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