The Busy Student’s Guide to Balancing School and Extracurriculars

Written by Rebecca Faletti and Jenn Glazebrook

It’s a universal experience–that dread weighing like a stone in your stomach, the sandpaper-rough feeling of your tongue in your mouth as you swallow nervously for the hundredth time, the inexorable feeling of dread wrapped around your neck like a noose. Your commitments have piled up, your responsibilities are becoming more than you can bear, and you regret being so eager to sign onto club registers or take that extra AP class.

From sports, to plays, to debate team, now more so than ever, high school students take part in an array of activities, and on top of all of this, they try to maintain good grades and get their work done. This is only possible through a myriad of strategies and systems, sometimes more outlandish and bizarre than could be expected, all done under an ancient maxim: if it works, why not?

Kristina Greene, freshman class council president and member of the Academic Team and Medical Explorers Club sets timers to section out her work and makes to-do lists. She puts schoolwork before extracurriculars but makes sure to do both and even studies for her debate and academic team competitions on the bus to and from school.
Senior Lily Forrester, an athlete and thespian, doesn’t have specific strategies for her workload, but still sees the benefits of self-control.

“I don’t have too many specific processes that guide me, but even so, there’s something to be said for putting your head down and pushing through.”

Forrester says, “The hardest part of balancing everything I do is accepting that I’ve hit my limit. I always see people doing an activity and think, ‘I really want to do that,’ but I unfortunately cannot create time. Still, as long as my priorities are in order, it’s most rewarding for me to be doing as much of what I love as I can.”

Forrester is active on the girls varsity basketball team, and in theater and forensics. She is also involved in both Second City and Groundlings training, improv and sketch comedy classes which help her improve her acting skills.
Despite students’ best efforts, things don’t always work out. Even the best-laid plans of mice and high-school students often go awry.

“I was mid-basketball season and in intensive training with an improv/sketch coach, and I had an essay due in English right before the end of the quarter, but I fell asleep sitting at my desk with a blank Word document on my screen. I did not get the 250-point essay done and it dramatically affected my grade,” Forrester remembers.

Missing school can sound a death knell to whatever strategies one has in place, as it builds up uncompleted work and adds to any given night’s workload. It is the catch-22 of hardworking students: Too much work leads to the problems that they dread, only leading to still more work.

Greene says, “Taking care of myself is the hardest part. I get sick a lot, so I have a lot of problems when I get too out there.”

While one can wade through hundreds of different strategies made for hundreds of situations that may not work for everyone, the constant throughout all of them is self-control. The students of Woodgrove have mastered academia and athletics, art and applied science, but what allows them to stride confidently forward in all their pursuits is their dedication, and that is universal.