Monday, November 29, 2010

USC Students Learn to Balance Academics and Extracurriculars

Chelsea Corriveau, a junior, business management major at the University of South Carolina, has learned to utilize her time management skills in order to succeed both in and outside of the classroom. In addition to a 15-credit course load, Corriveau is involved in a laundry list of extracurricular activities. She is a member of the executive board for University Ambassadors, on social committee for Phi Mu Sorority, along with being involved in intramural sports and volunteering as a Special Olympics coach. Of all her extra curriculars, however, her most time consuming is being an active member, social chair and concert chair for the Cocktails, the university’s first and only all female a cappella group.

During a regularly scheduled week, Chelsea practices with the Cocktails for two hours, two nights a week and performs weekly concerts. “It’s a really big time commitment,” said Corriveau, “I feel like I work on it as much as I do my school work.” In addition to the weekly responsibilities associated with the Cocktails, Chelsea’s schedule has the potential to get even busier. Recently, for example, the Cocktails were 1 of 6 schools chosen out of fifty to compete in the Soja A Capella Festival, the biggest a capella festival in the Southeast. Preparation for the festival required the girls to attend rigorous daily 2-hour rehearsals.

With the amount of time these extracurriculars require, Corriveau finds herself having to make sacrifices in order to fit it all in. She admits it is sometimes unavoidable for these activities to cut into study time, causing her to cram for tests last minute, and not score as highly as she knows she would have if she gave her full attention to the material. In addition, Corriveau finds her busy schedule cuts into her social life as well. “I don’t get to spend as much time with my friends or roommates as I want to, because if I have free time it’s usually spent working on my Cocktails music or catching up on schoolwork.” Although Chelsea is faced with the challenge of juggling multiple activities, she is certainly not the only student at USC who must make these sacrifices.

With a diverse and abundant array of student organizations offered at the University of South Carolina, it is quite common for USC students to be involved in activities outside of the classroom. There are over 300 registered student organizations offered to student life. The Student Organizations website states, “Students on Carolina’s campus have created groups with interests in everything from the appreciation of techno music to playing winter sports, from politics to dance, and from foreign language to community service.” Considering the large number of students involved in these organizations, each program offers tools to help students like Chelsea manage their time in order to get the most out of the programs offered while still succeeding academically.

Each student organization is required to have an advisor through the Department of Student Life who is selected from full-time faculty or administrative staff members. Each advisor’s goal is to encourage positive interaction between teaching/administrative staff and students involved in student organizations. Advisors are instructed to engage in periodic discussions with student leaders about their expectations of the advisory relationship. Both the advisors and leaders/officers are asked to set expectations ahead of time about the level of advisor-involvement in the student organization as well as their preferred methods of communication between students and staff. It is the advisors’ hope that by encouraging communication between students and staff they will not only prevent miscommunication, but also keep members of the organization engaged.

Through her personal experience, Chelsea Corriveau has utilized tools such as these, along with the guidance of older Cocktails members, to learn how to juggle her responsibilities. She admits the reason she is willing to take on the responsibility of so many activities is because she actually enjoys the rush of her demanding schedule. “I’m the type of person who needs to be busy in order to feel balanced. I get different satisfactions from all the different things I do. I play intramural sports to satisfy my competitive side. I volunteer at the visitor’s center because I love to interact with people and to come home at the end of the day knowing I helped someone.”

Corriveau did not choose to participate in Cocktails solely to occupy spare time, however. Like many of her peers in student organizations, she chose the program to pursue a passion of hers she has been interested in her entire life. Growing up, she was involved with music-oriented activities, and planned to pursue it at a collegiate level. “I love to sing and I wanted to major in something having to do with musical theatre but they didn’t have a program for that here. I was in chamber choir and musical theatre my whole life-it is my favorite happy thing to do. Through Cocktails I am able to pursue my passion everyday and I know I wouldn’t be as happy without it.”

Though her schedule is hectic, Chelsea Corriveau is one of many students at USC who has successfully achieved a balance between academic responsibilities and extracurricular and social activities. Through student organizations such as Cocktails, she is able to continue pursuing passions in college she could not have otherwise and is confident she will be able to act as a role model for future students who aspire to do the same.