“They told us kasi na, in college, they won’t stop you from doing whatever you want to do,” says Michelle, (II, POM-BSA), a student who’s currently handling eight positions in various orgs, while only in her second year in college. The old and the wise have often advised that college is the perfect time to explore all possible options. While some students prefer investing all their time and effort on academics, there are those who want to experience college in a different light through the numerous organizations in the University.
These are the students whom you often see wearing their collared shirts and lanyards with their organization’s name and insignia printed loud and clear; the ones who you see running from event proper to event proper, all the while accomplishing schoolwork during their class hours. The Menagerie chats with some of these adventurous and active students to get a glimpse of what it’s like juggling the responsibilities of extracurricular activities with academic life in DLSU.
Getting the hang of things
Finding the perfect balance between org work and academics doesn’t happen quickly, especially if you’ve just entered college. After adjusting and getting into the groove of things, the next step is prioritizing. “Siguro, the key is knowing your priorities first, and then knowing how to manage it well,” Michelle shares of the steps she takes. With 8 organizations currently under her belt, she categorizes them based on their relevance and her position. As an officer in POLISCY, ACG, FAST2014, and Boto Lasalyano Sulong Pilipino, and an active member in Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants, Youth for Christ, Youth for Family and Love, and COSCA-Love, she notes that keeping a tight rein over everything is the best option. “I guess that’s why I chose orgs that would complement my academics,” Michelle states. “If they go against each other, mahihirapan ka kasi ‘di mo siya mahahanapan ng connection.”
While some may have prepared to be more active in college, others weren’t looking for the opportunity until it presented itself to them. “I didn’t know I’d like this,” Richard (IV, MKT) admits of the activities he partook in while in college. “In high school, I was a really different person.” Richard is currently the student manager for the DLSU women’s football team, a core member of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista, and a member of the student services of the USG, but three years ago, he was also just a frosh who wanted to seize the different opportunities college offers. “I’m in college to learn and [to] grow… Seeing myself now, I’m proud of it [all].”
Focus and sacrifice
“I can’t see myself as just a student who just studies all the time,” Zed (IV, AE-APC) shares. Ever since he was in high school, he was always the student who excelled in his schoolwork, but who also found solace in doing extracurricular activities. “I make it a point that I set a goal whether I have to study this, or I have to plan for this activity; I make a checklist and that’s what I’m going to be following for the night,” Zed notes of the way he balances both aspects of his student life.
Focusing on the task at hand is an important thing to remember, what with so many factors affecting the way these overachievers learn. Richard emphasizes the importance in sacrificing other hobbies to free up time. “If you wanna make sure you’re doing well in your academics and if you’re doing well in your orgs, all the other things that have nothing to do with those, you have to let [those] go just so that you could have time,” he shares.
Tim (III, ISE), whose extra-curricular activities are centered on outreach, internships, and exchange programs abroad, makes it a point to get all the details sorted out in both his orgs so that it doesn’t compromise his studies. He shares, “I see to it [that] the activity would not disrupt my education to the point that I have to miss classes, tests, and school projects.” He also adds that while he enjoys serving and volunteering under COSCA and the De La Salle Brothers, he always makes it a point to put his studies first.
Digging deeper: the struggle
Despite all efforts to stay on top of things, there are times when everything piles up and it becomes too much to handle. With orgs and schoolwork demanding so much of their time and effort, the dilemma of overlapping schedules is often unavoidable. Zed recalls a time when his org had an event in the same week as his accounting quiz, causing him to sacrifice hours of sleep. Meanwhile, Richard confides that there was an instance when he asked himself if he was where he was supposed to be and if he had made the right decisions.
As conflicts in schedule and priorities arise time and time again, it can push a person to their breaking point. Michelle confides that she reached hers during the third term of her frosh year. Between fulfilling her priorities as a student, her role as block president, and her commitments as an active member of POLISCY, she had little time to keep things in check. Things got particularly bad when she could only get 30 minutes of sleep the whole week due to the heavy workload. Still, it’s a testament to Michelle’s will that she manages to rise out of the pile of activities and consistently top her performance, term in and term out. During that breaking point, she said that she had to take a deep breath before coming back to the nitty-gritty of work and restarting the cycle. “After that, I try to fix my time again tapos prioritize lang ulit. Siguro na-overwhelm lang ako, then inorganize ko na lang siya ulit,” she shares.
“I do experience struggles such as meeting deadlines, getting criticized, and failing to do what is expected [of me],” Tim shares. “[However], I always keep in mind the big picture of life: the world is not perfect and everyone has their own problems.” Ultimately, it boils down to how one deals with the heavy weight loaded on one’s shoulder. He concludes, “With that mindset, I know that I am not alone and that doing [my] best is already enough. It is all about reflecting and learning from the small and big experiences that play in our lives each day.”
Michelle compares the experience of balancing academics and org work to a past time that everyone can relate to. “Alam mo, when you’re riding a bicycle, sa una medyo bumpy pa then you try to practice, practice, then sooner or later, kahit gaano ka ka-expert diyan, there will always be times when you’re gonna wipe out. The only thing that matters is how you pick yourself up.”
Some silver linings
At the end of the day, Michelle admits that she still enjoys her different jobs, especially if students get to benefit from it. After all, eight organizations are a lot, but she powers through it. “At least magawa [ko] ‘to para sa ibang tao, okay na yun para sa [akin].”
Meanwhile, Richard shares that all the stress becomes worth it when the work you do helps grant you that inner fulfillment. For him, nothing compares to seeing the person that you campaigned for in the student government elections emerge victorious. He says, “All your time, all your effort, all the strategy-making you did… and the moment the vocation was over and you see the results, I’m just at my highest point.”
Similarly, Zed takes pride in what he does, knowing that he is able to reach out and help others realize their dreams. He explains, “Being the chairperson for the Lasallian Scholar Program, I found the fulfillment that I had been looking for, especially when I was able to give grants to these students, to these worthy students, since they’re also financial[ly] in need… And giving the grant to their parents, it was very touching, and I think that was the highest point of my extracurriculars, na I’m actually really making a difference to this person’s life.”