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The Art of Balance in College

George talks about balancing academics, extracurricular, social life, and more at Carleton!

George talks about balancing academics, extracurricular, social life, and more at Carleton!

I’ve always felt that balance is crucial to all facets of life, but life at Carleton has convinced me of that even more. It’s important to have balance and diversity everywhere – in the classes you take, what you spend your time doing, and even little things like the meals you eat and the people you hang out with. Through this blog, I want to share a few of the ways I’ve structured my first year at Carleton with balance in mind.


This is probably the most obvious instance of balance in college life, but I think it’s one people still disregard. I loved all sorts of subjects in high school, so it was easy for me to choose classes in different fields each term. Here is an outline of my schedule through my first year:

Fall Term

ARBC 100: Arabs Encounter the West (my A&I)

MATH 211: Multivariable Calculus

LATN 101: Elementary Latin

Winter Term

ENTS 318: Trees, Forests, and Climate Justice

CHEM 123: Principles of Chemistry I

LATN 102: Elementary Latin

Nordic Club PE

Spring Term

HIST 138: The Global Middle Ages

PHYS 143: Mechanics & Relativity

LATN 103: Intro to Latin Prose & Poetry

PHYS 123: What Physicists do (a 1-credit physics seminar)

sample schedule
A sample schedule of 4th week during spring term. As you can see, this is an exceptionally busy week!

As you can see, I kept a pretty consistent breakdown of one STEM class, one language class, and one random humanities class each term. This has been really helpful in keeping my workload fun and different, as I never have more than one paper, problem set, or composition at a time. It’s also kept all my skills sharp throughout the year because I have that balance.

I also think it’s important to note that I haven’t taken two classes in the same department yet, (except Latin, because the 4-term sequence is mandatory for the language requirement). This variety has let me test out a lot of different fields, which I’m really grateful for – not only in finding what subjects I like, but also in finding the ones that I don’t. For example, I never really took chemistry in high school, and I was curious to see if I would like it. It turns out it’s not really for me, and I much prefer to approach science through a physics mindset and deal with content on a larger scale. I definitely don’t think this means that my experience with chemistry was a mistake – in fact I consider it to be just as worth taking as Physics, which I have loved so far and am considering majoring in.

Social and Extracurricular Balance

In my opinion, balancing social and extracurricular time is just as important or even more important than academics. From the way I see it, if I don’t have enough time to see my friends, practice hobbies, or work out, I’m not really in the right headspace to do any work and am usually either sad or very unproductive. I work best when I’m happy and excited about the work I’m doing, which means spending time with friends and rock climbing, hiking, and more. With all this being said, Carleton is an academically rigorous school, and it’s not always easy to find time to frolic. Sometimes, especially during winter term, it can feel like all you do is attend class and do homework.

That’s why I’m really grateful for all the communities I have found at Carleton, including Nordic Club, CANOE, Climbing Team, Karls, and more which have all made it really easy to feel connected to the campus.

three people smiling in a canoe
A photo from my first CANOE trip in the fall term. Featuring me and the (second) best admissions blogger George Perry!


Another great way to be social during tough weeks of school is by doing schoolwork with friends. I know some people find that they can’t be productive when working alongside friends, but I find that it makes me even more productive!

George and tori working
Me and a friend (Tori) working in the Libe early spring term!

I’ve also been working on balancing… upside down.

hand stand
Me practicing handstands outside the climbing gym!

George (he/him) is a freshman interested in GeologyPhysicsMathematics, and Classics, from New York City. He loves listening to music (currently Elliot Smith, Belle and Sebastian, and Alex G), as well as playing the jazz flute and guitar. At Carleton, he’s a gear manager on the board of Carleton Association of Nature and Outdoor Enthusiasts (CANOE) and hosts a radio show with KRLX. You may see him staffing the bouldering cave, playing ultimate frisbee for Karls, or thrifting in Northfield. Meet the Other Bloggers!