I am a 2015 Traditional Terry scholar, and my major is mechanical engineering. Today, I am going to talk a little about balancing school with the rest of what college life has to offer. I will start off with a disclaimer: I have not worked during the school year, so I will most likely have more free time than those who do have jobs.
Balancing school with other activities is vital to survival in a university setting. If a person studies all of the time and has no hobbies, they will crash and burn from stress or become a robot. On the other hand, a person who regularly blows off school will not be able to maintain a hirable GPA. As in all things, balance is critical.
For the person who spends all of their time studying: This is the camp I was in freshman year. I spent a lot of time on code for intro to engineering and working problems for statics. I even listened to classical music while I worked out to study for my Intro to Symphony class. Working hard definitely gave me the GPA I wanted, but in hindsight I wish I spent more time getting to know people in Murray Hall. As my graduation date grows nearer, I realize that friends are the most important resource college has to offer. Which is a fonder memory: trying to crack every single thermodynamics problems on a Friday night, or staying up with friends playing cards in the study lounge? Life in the dorms places freshmen in a unique environment. Make friends and get to know your neighbors in Murray, because when you move off of campus, your opportunity to meet more people (especially people your class) significantly decreases.
As Terry Scholars, we are often reminded on the importance of goals. Sometimes all of those goals are academic goals; I implore that we should make other goals and make them important too. For example, one of my personal goals is to dunk a basketball. Therefore, I spend a lot of time playing basketball and working on my vertical. It has absolutely nothing to do with academics, but it is important to me so I make it a priority. You do not want to only have academic goals and fail to develop other aspects of your life during your four years at Tech.
For the person who is on the other side of the fence: Although I started out studying like a robot, I probably reside in this camp now. This is something that we should keep in mind: school without education is a colossal waste. Our job as students is to learn the material put before us so that we can apply it at our jobs later in life; our employers and customers will depend on our professional abilities. If we students ensure that we learned what the professor wants us to know, then our grades will reflect that and we will be succeeding academically. Otherwise, we need to take responsibility for our slacking off and set aside more time for studying.
So here is the balance in a nutshell: spend enough time on school to learn everything that the course demands. Aside from that, set aside time to meet people, and acquire some hobbies that can shape you into the person you want to become.