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5 Ways to Balance Schoolwork and Extracurriculars

Colleges and employers love to see that you're active in with extracurriculars, because they help round out your education and demonstrate your passion, drive and enthusiasm for life — and they also teach you valuable time management skills. But sometimes, juggling it all is exhausting. Here are some tips to help you keep all the balls in the air.
Study Every Day
Study Hall
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If you have a study hall during your school day, use it. If not, you'll have to discipline yourself to always use your free periods, or a set time before or after school, to stay caught up. Don't skip your study period on the days you're not swamped. Read ahead in your texts (you'll be amazed how much it boosts your comprehension to listen to a lecture when you've already read the chapter!) Look over your syllabus and see if you can start research for your next project. Review your notes in the classes you struggle with.

Map It Out
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When things get hectic, having a visual can really help. A large monthly or 3-month dry erase calendar on the wall can help you see where your logjams will be. Use colorful markers to write out your exams, project and paper due dates, games, contests, etc. If you can plainly see that you'll have three tests and two matches in the same week, you'll know you need to work ahead the week before.

Use Your iPod
listening to music
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You might find books-on-tape for your iPod that will help you "read" your literature assignments or study for your Spanish test while you work out, ride in the car, or do chores. If you have a concert or play coming up, listen to a professional rendition while you study. Make your own recorded "flash cards" to memorize vocabulary words, math formulas or history dates. Record yourself asking questions, leave a space to answer "live," then record the answer. Use the audio track to quiz yourself while you're doing other things. 

Steal Time For Study
Studying alone
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If you're driven to succeed, you will sometimes have to be that kid on the bus to the game with his headphones on and his nose in a book. Bring your books to the breakfast table. Take your laptop in the car on a family outing. Find time during down time at after school sporting events or practices. A few minutes here or there will really add up and keep you on the right track. 

Something's Gotta Give
Girls Study Group
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Prioritize. If you get sick or don't get enough rest, everything else will fall apart, so you need rest, exercise and healthy foods every day. Schoolwork needs to be your next priority, because a drop in grades will hurt your future more than losing a game or botching a line in the school play. You should put your friends and family ahead of TV or video games, but it's usually going to be your social life that takes the hit. That's hard on you and tough for your friends to understand. Remind yourself that this is a choice you're making for your future, and there will be time to socialize later. Remind your friends and family that what you're trying to do is hard. Tell them how stressful it is when you have to juggle everything, and ask for their support and understanding. If you never have time for friends, family, and fun, though, you might need to look over your schedule and see if something can be trimmed. Balance is the key to a happy, successful life!

Lauren Haas is a writer who specializes in finding the fun! Lauren was the publisher of the St. Louis Area Family Gazette for eight years, and now writes freelance articles on St. Louis events and attractions, budget travel, arts and entertainment and fitness topics. Her work can be found at

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