Juggling School and Activities: A High Schooler’s Guide to Finding Balance

stacked notebooks with the label “to do list”

We all need balance in our lives. Recognizing how we want to divide our time between our roles is important. We don’t often realize that we must find balance until we’re stressed. A busy schedule is great, but you must know when and how to slow down before it becomes overwhelming. While everyone has mechanisms that help them find harmony, remember to discover and implement what’s best for you.  

Balance Tips 

Finding a way to juggle all the different parts of your life can be challenging. If you don’t know where to start, making a list with three categories of how you spend time would be helpful. The list can include personal, academic, and leisure pursuits. You can jot down your roles, activities, and daily tasks in each area. Doing this gives you a better idea of how much time you want and need to dedicate to them. Writing is one of the best ways to sort things out and stay organized, which has helped me find balance in my life.  

Being A Half Day Junior 

I am currently taking four classes at high school and three college classes. In the spring, I’ll be taking four college classes. Once I leave high school, I go directly to the college and stay until about 3:15. My classmates are given to-do lists to keep track of their work; I make lists in my head or on my BrailleNote. I have created a routine that helps everything go smoothly for me. I prioritize the assignments due first and get them done as soon as possible so that it doesn’t become overwhelming.  

Change of Mindset 

At first, I hesitated to join Upward Bound because I heard I would have to do summer academy and take classes. I thought that if I joined, I wouldn’t have a fun summer or, more importantly, a break from school. I didn’t imagine my life being the way it is today. I knew I would be successful regardless, but I didn’t expect to have all the opportunities I have had thus far. I am so glad I chose to join Upward Bound, and I wouldn’t change my decision if I could. Through the program, I am working towards getting my associate’s degree in liberal arts by the time I graduate high school. 

My Future 

I always wanted to pursue a career as a singer/sound engineer or a video/audio film editor. Since I did a self-improvement project where I organized people to donate items for new moms, distributed them, and worked at a daycare, I’ve become interested in social work. I’ve also realized that even though I love singing and editing, I won’t be able to support myself from them immediately. I’ve decided to pursue social work as a career. I can still do music and editing in my free time, which also plays a role in compensating for my free time and my busy schedule.  

Working at a Daycare 

Last summer, I joined the STEP program with the Commission for The Blind in my state. It is a program for students transitioning from high school into the workforce. It was a huge step for me because I undertook my first job through it. I had to figure out how much of my time I wanted to dedicate to working, which was a hard decision for me, just like it was when I joined Upward Bound. When I finally decided on my schedule, I had to find a way to balance my college classes and time for homework and work. I find that working about 15 hours per week is comfortable during the school year. 

Lessons, Impacts, and Takeaways 

At first, choosing what job I wanted was hard because I wasn’t sure what I was most interested in or what I could do. I’m so glad I chose to work at a daycare because it taught me much. Some of the skills I learned were how to be responsible, be a better communicator, and work with a team. This job has given me all the basic skills I need to take to any job. Although I know I won’t always be able to create my work schedule, this allowed me to see how it is to juggle my personal life while working. 

Work Friendships 

I created close bonds/relationships with my boss and coworkers, and the daycare became my happy place. I realized I didn’t want to leave the daycare when the summer ended. I figured if I could balance classes and work in the summer, I could do the same thing during the school year. 

One of the most important things I’ve learned from working at the daycare is being more patient when people ask me about my vision. The kids constantly ask me things like: why are you closing your eyes, or why do you have a cane? I’ve learned to be calmer and less annoyed when discussing my vision. Working with the kids has shown me that they’re innocent and don’t know better when they ask those types of questions. This made me see how people think on a different level. I realized that while most people say ignorant things about blindness, some genuinely don’t know about the questions they ask, so sometimes it comes off as irrelevant or offensive.   

Working in the School Year 

Working during the school year has been both terrific and challenging. Not only do I focus on working, being a half-day junior, and taking college classes, but I also have other commitments such as the National Honors Society, APH CareerConnect Student Advisory Committee, and spending time with family. Doing this isn’t always easy and can get very exhausting. Some nights, I get home from work late, and I spend hours doing homework. Sometimes, I don’t have free time. Occasionally, I stay up late after school and work to do the things I love. The late nights mess up my sleep schedule. Another challenge I have with weighing each aspect of my life is that sometimes I have to decide which of my commitments is a priority at the moment.          

Evaluating potential commitments and their time and energy levels is important, and you should only do what you can handle. Step back if it’s too much. It is also important not to let the people around you choose how big of a load you should or shouldn’t accept. We often don’t realize that the people in our lives play a significant role in shaping our reactions and influencing our decisions. Some may try to hold you back from taking on a busy schedule, while others may push you to do more than you can handle. Balance is something you have to create for yourself.