Helping Your Student Balance Their Social Life
Emphasize How to Engage with the Campus Community Outside of Class
Social engagement in college is a critical aspect of your student’s well-being and personal development. Community involvement outside of class can take on many forms, including organized co-curricular activities. The social connections made outside of the classroom have many benefits for well-being. They can be protective factors for depression, anxiety, minor illnesses, and substance abuse and helpful for managing stress. Co-curricular opportunities can provide an outlet for expression and allow students to participate in activities they are passionate about, explore new interests, meet other people with similar or diverse perspectives, apply what is being learned outside of the classroom, and in many instances, practice time management. Discuss with your student how these activities can help them.
Helping to Recognize and Overcome Overcommitment
What does overcommitment look like in a college student? Have you ever felt like you were a circus clown, barely able to juggle five objects at a time when another two are thrown into the mix? At first you may integrate the new objects seamlessly, but the next thing you know you drop an object, and then another. You can’t seem to find your rhythm for successfully completing this task let alone any task. If you can relate, you may have had an experience with overcommitment. The same is true for college students.
Between classes, social life, jobs, and any other activities in which your student may participate, they may find themselves feeling overwhelmed with too many commitments. Encourage your student to discuss with you if they are feeling this way. Work with them to learn that there are things they can do to bring a healthy balance back to their life. Help your student determine their priorities and what commitments should stay and which may need to wait until later.
Social Life: Too Much of a Good Thing?
While most students are able to find a healthy balance between campus and social activities and academics, some students are challenged by this. According to the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment data, 8.4% of college students reported in spring 2019 that extracurricular activities negatively affected their academic performance. While over 90% did not report any negative academic impact from extracurricular involvement, nearly 1 in 10 students did.
In addition, students reported that their individual academic performance was impacted by other social and extracurricular experiences, including
- work (15.3%),
- computer games and internet use (10.3%),
- alcohol use (2.9%) and
- drug use (1.9%).
While the self-reported impact from substance use may seem low, this research included almost 68,000 students. Almost 2,000 students from the sample cited alcohol as an issue. Student alcohol and substance use is also indirectly related to other areas that students cite as impacting their academics, like sleep and stress.
Too much of a good thing can negatively impact your student’s health and well-being as well as their grades. Help your student by discussing balancing their social life and learning ways to have fun while staying safe and well.