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Some Timely Advice About Focus

Savvy Fairall, Opinion Editor

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Picture this; you are sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather when all of a sudden the sky turns a grayish blue, the clouds roll in, and it starts to rain. Not just a light sprinkle but rain; heavy droplets hit the pavement as you scramble to grab your things and run indoors. Once you are indoors you have a few options: a. you could start on your mountain of homework, b. you could start studying for your finals that are just a daunting two weeks away, c. you could go over to your friend’s room and watch movies, or d. you could take a nap. After all, who doesn’t love napping in the rain? Options a and b would probably be the most beneficial, but with only two weeks left in the semester you start to see your motivation fade and options c and d start to look really nice.

But stop right there!

As college students there are many distractions that can steer our focus in less productive directions. Over the past two years I have come to the conclusion that these factors outside the classroom can play a huge role in whether or not we succeed, and that doesn’t mean that these factors are all bad; some factors affect us in positive ways and do a lot of good, but on the other hand, some are not so beneficial and can have harmful effects on the way we choose to spend our time in college. Some major factors influencing our behavior inside and outside the classroom are parties, friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, sports, the weather and social media.

I can tell you firsthand that over the past two years all of these factors have had an effect on me. Whether it was good or bad, I have dealt with them all and I would go as far as to say most of you will experience the effects of these factors during your time in college as well.

The first factor, parties, is one some may know better than others. Parties in college are as common as essay assignments and tests. Parties are fun and can be a great way to connect with peers and take a load off after a stressful week, but when partying becomes too frequent and it starts to have negative effects on your performance in the classroom, you need to take a step back and reevaluate your choices. Most of us came to college to have fun and socialize, but more importantly we are here to get an education. College is awesome, we can all agree on that. We are no longer under our parents’ thumbs. No more curfew; no more chores. It is truly great. But what we all have to remember is that there is a reason we are here: to create a better future for ourselves and to make our parents proud and too much partying can inhibit these goals from becoming reality.

A factor that goes hand in hand with partying is friends. Friends are great; I can tell you all that I have met some of my best friends here at Allen. Friends can have positive effects on your classroom performance and they can also have negative effects, and taking a step back to decide which effect your friends are having on you can be crucial to your success. Friends should motivate you and push you to do your best, not drag you down and keep you from reaching your goals. A good friend is one who helps you become the best version of yourself, whether that be in the classroom, on the field, or on the stage. A friend who discourages your motivation and doesn’t acknowledge your success is not a good friend; these types of “friends” can have negative effects on your college success so it is important to determine which type of friends you want in your life.

This can also be said for boyfriends/girlfriends. If you have ever had a bf/gf in your life you know that they can be a distraction. Despite the word’s negative connotation, distraction is not necessarily a bad thing. Distraction from stressful situations and from life’s sometimes heavy burdens can be a blessing, but it is when we let these distractions take over and completely cloud our judgment that it can do the most harm. Making sure you have a healthy balance between school, your relationship and any other obligations you may have, such as work or sports, is important.

Many students here at Allen are on scholarship for sports. Being able to balance being a successful athlete as well as a successful student can be tough, but it is attainable. I am on a soccer scholarship here at Allen, and our coach, Jeremy McGinnis, always reminds us that we are students first, athletes second. Taking that into consideration it is important to stay on top of things in the classroom, not just so you are eligible to play your sport but also so you can maintain your scholarship. Scholarships are not easy to attain, and they are not to be taken lightly; to be on scholarship is a privilege and to honor the opportunity you have been given means going to class, studying, turning assignments in on time, and being an above average student. A wise man once told me, “Don’t be average,” and I try to put that advice to use in all of my life’s endeavors.

The weather can have an interesting effect on our performance in the classroom. Right now you are probably wondering, “Savvy how the heck do you think weather plays a role in my life as a student?” Well, I’m here to tell you. Have you ever woke up, looked outside your window and saw two feet of snow on the ground and decided to skip class? Living in Kansas this is a pretty realistic scenario come winter. This type of weather, as well as snow, rain, wind and also extreme heat, can affect us in negative ways like skipping class, putting off doing assignments, and altogether putting a damper on our mood. It can be hard to change your mood around when it comes to factors you can’t control like the weather, but keeping a positive attitude and staying motivated can really benefit your success in the classroom.

The last factor that I think we can all relate to is social media. Social media, like all the previously mentioned factors, can have negative as well as positive effects on our classroom success. Too much social media can be a harmful distraction; posting statuses, checking notifications, and updating news feeds can all be very distracting when it comes to trying to get homework done, essays written and projects finished. Like all good things, moderation is key. Putting your phone down will help you stay focused and engaged; trust me when I say “out of sight, out of mind” really does work. When you finish an assignment you can reward yourself with 5 minutes of social media. That way you can stay productive and not miss out on anything. I like to use this method when it comes to writing essays; after every paragraph or page you can reward yourself and that way you can keep up good habits and classroom success.

It’s not always easy to stay focused in college, especially come finals time when you feel you have been working so hard for so long, but remembering to maintain balance between outside factors can be a key to your success. Stay engaged, stay focused and finish strong. From all of us here at the Flame, we wish you good luck and godspeed!

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