Lauren Frenkel is a graduate student at California Lutheran University, receiving her Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration. She is currently working on her thesis which investigates the barriers in rape crime policy reform. Her core focus is research for women’s rights and advocacy. As an undergraduate she studied Political Science and Global Studies. She currently works as an Office Administrator at First Presbyterian Church in Northridge, CA. Lauren enjoys travel and outdoor activities. Recently she studied in Ireland and has visited multiple destinations such as Belize, Riviera Maya, Amsterdam, and Italy.
So now you have graduated college? You have long term goals of being the next politician or professor, whatever your final goal may be, you chose the path of grad school for a reason. Your goals are set high and you must have motivation because it takes a certain individual to power through more years of academic research. For me I wanted make sure that even though I was still in grad school, I wanted to feel that I had taken a step forward. I moved to the heart of Hollywood with my girlfriends and rented my first apartment. With this came a high cost of living and large budget to maintain. In order to keep myself above water and avoid dependence on my parents I searched and searched for well paid, salary position. When I finally found it, sure it alleviated my financial stresses, it even helped me to pay for my loans, however it put me to a test of extreme self-discipline.
If you are like me then you know then you know the struggle of self-discipline at 22 years old. You’re watching your friends go out and watching them work off those extra college pounds, but you my friend have a whole other set of responsibilities. So how do we choose? How do we choose the things that are going to make us successful at both our job and in academics while still maintaining happiness? If you are working a full time job and you are enrolled as a full time grad student then I can imagine your classes take place at night ranging in hours from 6-10? These despised hours are when a working girl should be relieving stress through spin classes or going out for drinks with her coworkers. Instead you are in a class room, on your 8th cup of coffee getting nutrition from Luna bars. It is easy to get discouraged when this is your mindset. Allow me to enlighten you. As I go on with my 6th month as a full time student and full time employee I feel I have truly mastered the art of balance.
First off, change your mindset. Remember the reasons you are CHOSING to pursue education. This is your personal choice, so it is time to start acting like it. Your studies are now your privilege and your job is now your necessity. Every time you open a book or sit down in your classroom remind yourself how lucky you are to be given in an opportunity that will put you even closer to your dreams. Engulf yourself in your research and embrace it as a part of your identity. Know that your studies are helping you and that you are on a path towards success. How lucky is that!
Secondly, choose your priorities and plan ahead. It is impossible for you to go to work, work out, go out for drinks, eat dinner, go to class, do homework, and sleep every week! So choose the things that are most important to you and compromise the activities you choose. For me the hardest thing to maintain was my health. I was used to going to the gym 5 days a week and releasing stress through intense cardio. However I no longer have the energy anymore if I am class until 10 at night and waking up for work at 6:30 a.m. My body cannot push itself through those workouts. I have taken up lower intensity stress relievers such as yoga, meditation, and stretch routines. For my friendships and relationships I have realized that spending time with these people are simply things that need to be planned. I do not have the luxury of planning something the day of and if I want to keep important people in my life I need to make them a priority. This means taking a few hours during the week to complete research papers in order to afford losing a few hours to go out with friends. Get enough sleep throughout the week so you can wake up early on weekends. When you wake up be productive. If you wake up before your roommates on a Saturday morning don’t spend the time watching Netflix grab yourself a Starbucks and study until it is time to be with your friends. Come to the realization that time is precious and every 3 hour span you spend twittling your thumbs is the time you could have spent writing 6 pages of a paper. Time not spent on your studies is time wasted therefore you lose even more time with your friends or significant other.
Always remember that grad school and even your undergraduate is a choice! It is not a requirement of life. Therefore if you are able to fund up the resources to continue your education and have the opportunity to provide your research expertise in grad school you should feel privileged and honored. Stepping into the path of academics comes with great responsibility. So be disciplined and take pride in your life. Realize that you are on a path to your dreams and it is not supposed to be an easy road there. Work hard and plan ahead so you can enjoy the joys of life!