A lot of people will cite their four or five years of college as the best time of their lives. When looking back in hindsight, their vision isn’t just 20/20 — it’s tinted by rose colored glasses as well. Years down the line, it is all memories of freedom, fun, and friends. College has its obvious appeals. It’s a young person’s first crack at independence, and first chance to be surrounded by like-minded people of their generation who they can learn and grow with. But it can also be challenging.

College absolutely has the chance to be the best four years of your life, but it won’t happen by default. If you go through your higher education on cruise control, you will look back with regret, if you can make it through at all.

In college, there are two major categories your commitments fall into: academic and social. Your academic commitments are everything from your classes, studying, and homework, to lab work or internships. Your social commitments are pretty much everything else — spending time with friends, clubs, sororities or fraternities, romantic relationships. These will both lead to some important times and great memories — probably one category more than the other, depending on what type of person you are. The surprising part though is that they are usually responsible for equal amounts of stress.

Your social life ideally is all good times and happy memories. But obligations and anxieties can manifest quickly. These anxieties become even more real when you are trying to balance your social obligations with your academic ones. Whether you are a student at Norwich University or Northwestern University, you will have to find a balance between your work and your play if you want college to be the best time of your life. Give yourself some help by following this guide to managing both your social and academic life in college.

How To Manage Your Social Life and Academics In College

Get Your Priorities Straight

In this case, this is not code for “prioritize your education over your social life.” If you truly want to be happy in college, you need to really determine which is more important to you. Do you want to get excellent grades and maximize your education? Or do you want to coast by while having the time of your life while you still can? They’re both valid options, though if you completely prioritize your social life, it may lead to your education suffering in ways that will come back to bite you.

Find the Right Friends

If you have the right friends, your social life should be easy and breezy. People always put pressure on themselves when it comes to social obligations and friendships, but if you are with the right group, all of that pressure will be self-inflicted. Your friends shouldn’t expect anything out of you that you aren’t able to give.

Get Organized

Having a good hold on your academics will make it much easier to enjoy your social life, and the first step to that is planning and organization.