Surviving First Year

Students navigate Jayhawk Boulevard prior to the start of the school year.


Persistence is an interesting topic for college students. Because we’re a big group, it’s hard to make general statements about where people are, so I’ll talk about some areas where it’s good to keep going and when to pump the brakes. Whether it’s dating, projects or campus groups, it’s sometimes hard to tell what you should be prioritizing.

On one hand, some things are worth sticking through. With very few exceptions, classes are usually worth sticking with and putting in the work. We’re at the University to get a degree, and putting that off usually doesn’t benefit you in the long term. Realistically, dropping a class should be a last option, done for mental health or because you can’t maintain the class while working toward your future. Don’t forget you can take a class as pass/fail, that’s usually a decent option if GPA is an issue.

Relationships are another thing entirely. For any kind of serious relationship there are going to be fights and rough patches. If you really care for a person, it’s almost always worth it to push through. However, this comes with more caveats than I have room for. Abusive relationships are hard to notice from the inside, and even harder to leave unscathed. If this is happening to you, that’s definitely a situation you need to get out of as soon as possible.

If you’re struggling with relationship problems you can submit to Ask Aroog, a new advice column that, among other things, offers answers to any relationship questions you may have. So feel free to reach out.

Finally, involvement in student groups is one thing a lot of students, especially freshmen, struggle to balance. If you were involved in high school, you could be involved in five or six groups and still get by fine while doing a nice job of padding your college application.

Unfortunately, college is a different animal entirely. Students have a lot more free time, so groups expect a lot more commitment. If I encountered someone actively involved in more than four student groups I would be concerned. However, when starting the school year, it’s not a terrible strategy to sign up for several groups you’re interested in just to try them out. 

It is important to be willing and ready to drop some activities when it starts to become too much. Extracurricular activities are often low priorities for Jayhawks. This isn’t to diminish the work these groups do or the value they can bring to your life, but it’s important to recognize your life will not fall apart if you cut a group from your schedule.

Figure out the small handful of things you’re passionate about and enjoy doing, and focus on doing them well.

That’s the lesson I hope you take away from this. Life is a series of trade-offs. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much energy to spend. Figure out what you care about and commit to that. And don’t be afraid to cut out a part of your life that’s getting in the way of that.

Jeffrey Birch is a senior from Wichita studying accounting.