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Top 10 ways to stay occupied as a part-time student

If you are struggling to stay occupied, here are some ways to get more involved with the community and spend your time in meaningful ways.

<p>Madison Workman is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Madison Workman is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.

1. Make a bucket list and explore Charlottesville 

First and foremost, get out and explore Charlottesville! With the beautiful scenery that surrounds us, take the time to visit places and do activities that you have always wanted to do but have never found the time for. The easiest way to keep track of this is to create a bucket list and begin to cross ideas off the list as the semester progresses. A few of the goals on my own bucket list include hiking Humpback Mountain with friends, going for a run on the Rivanna Trail and taking an interactive painting class. Make it fun, make it adventurous and see how many you can cross off by the end of the year.  

2. Dedicate time to post-college job search 

Many of us who are part-time students are most likely entering our final semester of college. While this can be a scary and intimidating time as many students initiate the process of securing a job post-graduation, remember that being a part-time student grants you much more time to explore your opportunities, utilize the Career Center’s resources and begin to connect with people in the University network who share similar career interests. While it can be easy to let the days slip away, be intentional about delegating time to this process if that is what interests you. 

3. Find a part-time job or internship 

One incredible thing about Charlottesville is that there are so many opportunities that surround us, not just in the University community but in the greater Charlottesville community as well. Believe it or not, simply being a University student gives you a leg up when searching for job opportunities in the Charlottesville area, whether you want to be a server at a restaurant, a barista, a receptionist or a part-time intern. Take time to do some research, find which opportunities and businesses interest you most, inquire about job opportunities and pursue them. Not only will this help you to find a way to occupy your time, it will also help you to grow your network and get in touch with the community in meaningful ways. If you already have a part-time job and feel as though you still have some time on your hands, consider browsing Handshake and looking for additional internship opportunities. 

4. Allocate time for self-care and growth 

We get so caught up in our daily routines that we frequently forget to be mindful of our emotional health and well-being. As you enter a part-time semester, remind yourself to engage in a self-care routine every day that reduces your anxiety and stress, improves your overall mood and concentration and generates happiness. Personally, I have found that reading for ten to twenty minutes each night before bed helps me to unwind so that I fall asleep with a clear mind. Some other methods include journaling, eating foods that replenish your body and exercising. 

5. Spend more time with people you don’t get to see as much 

Do you often think of that one friend whom you don’t get to spend as much time with as you’d like to? I know I have been in this position before, and it is a tough one. You try to make plans but somehow, they always seem to fall through the cracks. With a more flexible schedule, make more of an effort to seek out these people and allow yourself to be accommodating. In the long run, you will be thankful you did. Not only will this help you to nurture lifelong friendships, it will also give you the opportunity to have new experiences with people who are important to you.  

6. Make a purposeful connection with your professors 

There is something so special and unique about sharing a connection with a professor — someone whom you look up to not only as a teacher, but as a mentor and leader. With a full schedule, it can be hard to make a meaningful connection with your professors. You find yourself scurrying out of the classroom to make it to your next class or rushing to a library to finish an assignment. With a lighter schedule, designate time to meet with your professors, introduce yourself and get to know a little more about them. Trust me, they want to know a little bit more about you, too. For more advice, check out Zachary Anderson’s article about how to show appreciation and give thanks to your professors.

7. Join an extracurricular club 

If you find that you are struggling to find ways to occupy your time, I suggest joining an extracurricular club. Whether you are a passionate athlete, writer, creative, philanthropist, musician or something else, I know that there are opportunities for you to explore your passion within the University’s community. All it takes is a little bit of research, networking and reaching out to other students. Two years ago when I decided I wanted to join a community within the University that would foster my passion for writing, I did some research, connected with a couple of students who were involved in The Cavalier Daily and found my place. I am certain that you can too. 

8. Allow yourself to be more active 

Often, we forget the importance of activity in our day-to-day lives — especially when we are bombarded and overwhelmed by things such as schoolwork, extracurricular activities, exams and so on. By allocating a specific time during your day when you choose to do something active, you allow yourself time to decompress, refuel and clear your mind. Coming from someone who sometimes has difficulty motivating themself to do something active, I guarantee that it will make you feel a lot better physically, and more importantly, mentally. Whether you enjoy competition, are more introverted, are eager for new experiences or find pleasure in more relaxing activities, there are plenty of ways to stay active. Consider getting involved in an intramural sport, visiting one of the fitness facilities on Grounds, dropping in for a free zumba or kickboxing class or browsing YouTube for a pilates workout or yoga flow. 

9. Take time to do a small act of kindness for someone 

With so many extra hours in your day, take more time to make others feel special. There are many things you can do to make others feel appreciated and valued, such as writing a thoughtful card for someone, giving a friend a phone call, or asking someone to go on a walk or grab lunch with you. By doing these things, you instill a feeling of self-esteem in others, helping them to feel a level of gratification and fulfillment. If you wake up one morning and are contemplating what to do with your day, make an effort to start a shared connection with someone. 

10. Capitalize on your time by doing more of what you love 

Whether you love to read, go on hikes, paint, draw or ride a bicycle, dedicate more of your time to doing things that make you happy. As I enter my last semester at the University as a part-time student, I am confident in saying that spending time doing the things you love has a strong positive effect on your mental health and well-being. While it can often be hard to choose going on an hour-long hike rather than reading fifty pages of your psychology textbook, remember that it is important to make certain sacrifices to ensure your happiness. 

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