There isn’t a single aspect of your life that is insignificant. Everything that makes up your day and defines you as a person is essential. This is true of your studies, your work life, and, yes, even your love life.
If you are like many of your college-age peers, it is likely that you have a significant other with whom you like to spend quality time. Romantic relationships can be a very positive and healthy part of the overall college experience. Ideally, they teach you many life lessons (some positive and some negative) and offer some challenges along the way.
One of the greatest of those challenges is managing your studies without letting your love life take a toll on your grades. The temptation to pour all your energy and attention into that special someone is high. This, too, is positive in that it forces you to learn a few lessons about responsibility and time management. How is that balance found and maintained? Let’s investigate that a little…
Assess Your Academic Life
The single most important lesson to be learned here is that your studies have to take priority. If you love the person you’re with, and you see a future that includes each-other, you should both be willing to make some sacrifices.
The decisions you make now will lead directly to either success or failure in your professional life. Since that is where the money comes from, being amply prepared to enter the job market as a legit competitor among your peers is mandatory. Getting good grades and making yourself as marketable as possible upon graduation is the best way to ensure success. It is also a great way to say, “I love you.” It tells the other person that you care about the kind of future you want to build.
Yes, there are shortcuts you can take. You can network with other students who have taken the classes (and exams) that you are now. You can tap into online resources like Quizlet and take advantage of other students’ study efforts. You can collaborate with one of the many online academic writing services to get your papers done faster. All of these will save you time, but none of them completely solve the problem on their own.
Get It Together Together
A more comprehensive solution is to combine study time with dating time. This seems simple on paper, but it is anything but. Some people are good at it, but most are not. It requires a level of commitment to the more mundane task of studying than most couples are willing to put into it. If that proves to be you, there are two options: ditch the idea altogether or determine to make it work.
If you can manage the latter, you will also maintain your relationship better overall. Priorities are good. Being responsible is better. Sticking to the plan is praiseworthy. The real question is: can it even be done? The answer, of course, is yes. Here’s how…
Devising Your Plan
It is not just essential but mandatory to designate time for both work and play. Here are a few ideas that can help you with that:
#1: Schedule Study Time Down To the Minute
As unromantic as it may seem, the best way to manage self-discipline is to have a plan that covers every minute that the two of you are together. If you plan to get together for three hours to study, designate time within those three hours for actual study and some for… “extracurriculars.” Snogging sessions are inevitable, so if you can’t beat ’em, schedule ’em. “For the next hour, we work on coursework. After that, we’ll take a 15-minute break.”
It can make things more exciting when you know there’s a reward at the end of that hour. You can modify it further and say, “When I’m done with this assignment we can take a break.” It motivates you actually to get things done, but be careful not to cut corners. You want to get your assignments done and get good grades. Don’t settle for mediocrity just because you have the motivation to finish.
#2: Give Each-Other Space
Commit to spending some of your study time alone. No matter how it may seem, it is not at all mandatory to be together 24/7. Some study situations require more concentration and a more rigid time commitment. In those cases, you need to have the maturity necessary to set up success-driven boundaries that allow you to get your work done.
You can use a rewards system in these instances, too. Plan a more organized date for when you’ve each gotten all the work done that you need. Go out and blow off some steam. Allow yourself to forget about the pressures of student life and focus on being together. Those are the moments that solidify in your head and your heart whether or not this person is “The One.”
#3: Be Supportive
If your significant other declines to go out with you because he or she has to study, do not act neglected or put off. This person is doing what he or she must ensure a good future. If you want that future to include you, be mature about it. Never argue about study time. Never pressure each-other to neglect coursework. Never guilt each-other into spending time together when you know your studies require your attention more.
#4: Reward Each-Other’s Successes
Plan special dates and celebrations when you hit various academic milestones. You finally pulled off an A on a test in a class that had you stumped. You got your paper submitted on time. You aced all your midterms. You handed in the last assignments on all your syllabi. These things are cause for celebration, so celebrate. You did well, and you kept your urges and emotions at bay long enough to get things done. You deserve a night out, a weekend away together, or something that equates to a significant reward. By the time you reach that point, it’s likely you’ve mastered the whole student/dating dilemma, and you’ve learned it with maturity and sensibility.
Remember, It’s Worth It
Developing the ability to accept delayed gratification will help you in many areas of life. It will keep you from spending money impulsively and making other rash decisions. It will help you become a more pragmatic thinker as well. If you can manage to develop that skill in your romantic life, it’s a near certainty that you will be able to apply it to anything. Hang in there! The long-term rewards will prove to be well worth the momentary sacrifices.