High school and college students alike are often reminded to get involved to build up that college application or résumé. And who wouldn’t want to spend their spare time with other people who have the same interests? The key is finding the perfect balance between being “involved” and focusing on classes.

Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Whether you like to concentrate on one project or you’re the student who likes to dabble and be involved in everything, it can be easy to lose your focus. Don’t forget that classes are essential. While a hearty extra-curricular list can definitely add to an application, you still need good grades to supplement it.

One of the easiest ways to keep yourself balanced is to find and actually use a planner. Gannon, like most high schools, offers free date books for students. Use this if you like it. If not, a planner that you like and will use is well worth the money. Sit down and fill in all the important dates you can, and get in the habit of keeping your planner with you. Write in both homework assignments and events so you won’t double book (or over-book) yourself and you can clearly see how much time you’ll need to devote to studying each week.

Try making lists of what you want to accomplish each day. This can include homework, assignments, meetings and personal items, such as laundry. It’s always a good idea to have a plan of attack. This can help you know how to budget your time throughout the day, and it adds an extra sense of accomplishment whenever you’re able to cross something off the list.

Finally, make sure you’re only involved in activities that you like. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to lose interest in something and feel obligated to stay. Remember that no matter what, your school work is most important. If you feel like you don’t have enough time or you’re stressed, think about dropping an activity or two. If you realize that yearbook just isn’t your thing or you don’t have the time to commit to the swim team, talk to your advisor or coach. As long as you’re honest, there won’t be a problem. And if you’re not happy in an activity, it’s definitely not worth your time.

As you prepare for a new school year full of work and your extra-curricular activities, stay organized, and remembers to enjoy yourself. These activities shouldn’t just be good for your résumé — they should be good for you too.

Interested in what clubs and organizations Gannon has to offer? Check out the full listing here.