School/Life Balance

by Christopher Johnson

We know it’s important to maintain a healthy school/life balance, but let’s be honest –  it isn’t always the easiest thing to achieve. There are so many variables that come with creating the perfect balance, and we must remember that perfection is a matter of individual perception and perspective. We could make assumptions about everyone trying to balance school and personal life, but I think hearing someone’s personal story or journey first-hand is what provides genuine insight that requires no guessing – only truth to one person’s reality of how they balance things. So…I share with you my story.

My name is Chris Johnson and I am an MBA-SBP candidate at Duquesne University. I moved to Pittsburgh from my home state of Tennessee, departed from my job of over seven years, started graduate school 10 years after completing undergrad, and recently married the love of my life. You may ask yourself why I’m sharing all of this information and why it matters? Great questions. I share all of this because it plays a significant part in my school/life balance. As much as I want to make sure I succeed in school, I also have to make sure I enjoy and experience happiness in my personal life.

“The common ground is comprised of learning, communication, understanding, and discipline.”

But how do you manage the two with so many different things going on? I admit balancing the two walks of life is still a work-in-progress, but I have learned that the key to getting better at the balancing act is remembering that both aspects of life share a lot of common ground. The common ground is comprised of learning, communication, understanding, and discipline. There are more points that can be added, but we will let these serve as our main points for now. These four commonalities provide me with the ability to balance school and life in a way that makes me happy.

It may already seem like a given that school requires learning, communication, understanding, and discipline, but you may wonder how that ties into personal life. Expounding upon what I have shared about myself already, I will reiterate that I am in a city that is new to me, I have no family nearby and left most of my friends behind, and I am a newly married man. What has truly made this transition easier for me in all regards is communication and understanding from the people that are part of my personal life. I ensure that my school work receives my full attention, but it makes all the difference in the world when your wife, family, and friends are understanding of your school work as well. Not only that, they make sure to check in through phone calls, share words of encouragement, and ask for me to tell them if they’re interrupting or taking me away from homework or studying. It really shows me that love transcends distance. I also do my best to check in using various means of communications.

Discipline applies to this in some regard as well – ensuring that I stay in touch with loved ones. Discipline is also an important factor for me when it comes to my marriage. No matter how much school work I have, I do my best to ensure that my wife and I have time to spend together every week. Some of the wisest advice I’ve received regarding marriage is to never stop dating your spouse. I agree and think it has served us extremely well so far.

“You learn to adapt to the changes that take place in both walks of life and do so in a way that keeps you happy.”

Finally, learning and understanding are very important to personal and school life, especially as a graduate student, because schedules change, events happen in life, you work in teams that require accommodating everyone’s schedule, and you have to meet with clients. You learn to adapt to the changes that take place in both walks of life and do so in a way that keeps you happy. You also learn and understand that sometimes you have to make sacrifices for a season or semester, but you know they won’t last forever. Cliché to say but it can sometimes be a game of give and take. To conclude, school/life balance is very important and it is completely in your hands to make it a happy place for you and those in your life.