Managing Commitments and Finding a Sustainable Balance at Rollins

By: Janelle Gowgiel – Behavioral, Social, & Health Education Sciences

There are a lot of reasons to be excited about grad school, particularly to be excited about getting your MPH at Rollins. Maybe you can’t wait to take interesting classes, to meet professors who are well known for their research and work, to make friends who care about addressing structural racism and health disparities as much as you do, getting a job at the CDC or Care or the Carter Center, or living in a fun and exciting city like Atlanta. But, most likely, you are excited about all those things… as you should be! You might be asking yourself (or maybe even asking the Rollins Ambassadors!) how will I balance all of these opportunities? 

As you might have guessed, I have some generic advice like “prioritize what matters the most to you” and “try to find balance”… which is all true. But, there have been some other considerations that have been helpful for me in my first year as I have decided how to spend my time. 

Say no

This is one of the hardest for me… and I’m still working on it! I am trying to be better at saying no to things that I don’t have time for, even if I think they sound interesting. There are so many cool things that you’ll hear about at Rollins, whether it is research a professor is doing, a volunteer opportunity, or an extra class that sounds fascinating. While it is good to say yes to some of these things, personally, I am trying to be better about saying no if I think I might be stretching myself too thin. And I always remind myself that it is rarely a once in a lifetime opportunity, and if I still want to do it next time around, I might say yes that time! 

You do you

Everyone’s version of “balance” is going to look different—and that’s ok! When you are surrounded by lots of high achieving, motivated people, it can be challenging to resist comparing yourself. But, at the end of the day, if you are happy with what you are doing, that is all that matters. Don’t feel like you need to be a TA and have a job and take 16 credits and volunteer and write a thesis if that’s not what you want to do.

Give yourself a break

Like, literally! The nice thing about being in school is that you have pretty long breaks… try to take advantage of them! Whether it is seeing family over winter break or thanksgiving, doing a solo trip at the start of the summer, or giving yourself a long weekend to relax, unplug, and read for pleasure before the semester starts. Take advantage of those breaks and give your mind and body time to relax. For me, this has been really helpful to stay motivated and committed during the semester, knowing that I will have a nice break where I will totally relax. 

There are so many opportunities at Rollins that sometimes it can feel overwhelming. But these opportunities are also exciting. No matter what you choose, you’ll meet amazing people, learn a ton, and probably have both stressful times and fun times along the way. As always, feel free to reach out to the Rollins Ambassadors if you want to ask about how individuals are working on finding their own balance.