Balancing Responsibilities

Work-life balance: A concept that almost every young professional is introduced to, whether it be at your first internship or full-time position. It's this mystical state in which you have enough time to get all of your work finished, go for a run, meet friends for dinner, and binge watch the entire first season of whatever new Netflix series has come out.  The task seems close to impossible. Yet, in a formal office setting, where you have an office to leave at the end of the day and assignments that are assigned and due only during business hours, establishing some type of balance seems less impossible. On a college campus, however, you have neither. Your "office" is wherever you are at that moment and assignments really never end from the day classes begin and end (although, let's be honest about how many times you have had to read something over summer or winter break). As a student, attempting to establish work-life balance is one of the hardest things you will be asked to do and yet something you will never receive a grade for. In fact, the opposite happens. If you plan ahead and feel prepared enough that you don't have to pull an all-nighter before your final econ exam, somehow you become the "lazy" student in your group of friends. Or, if you manage to painstakingly carve out an hour each day to just sit in your bed and watch Netflix, you are suddenly labeled as unmotivated.  At the end of the day, attempting to establish work-life balance as a student is something that is rarely acknowledged, and yet one of the single best ways you can achieve academic success. The question is then: how? How is it possible to strike that perfect balance between school, work, family, and friends?

Establishing a Balance 


Engage in Self-Reflection: 

Self-reflection is essential to self-care and one's sense of balance. Being honest about how you feel and what's going on your life is the first step to finding balance. Do you need more time to just relax? Are you not getting enough time to see your friends? Identify where you can make changes.


Set Boundaries: 

Give yourself the space to enact these changes by actively creating boundaries and communicating them to the people in your life. Is a daily phone call home too much? Maybe suggest a daily email or text.


Work Smarter: 

Finding ways to work more efficiently and increase productivity and organization will allow you to save time for other critical things, like time to unwind or connect with family. Where are you most productive on campus? What kind of music do you need to be listening to?


Use Institutional Supports: Offices like CDI are here to help! Stop by MGC 201 and 202 anytime to chat more with the team of program coordinators and student staff.

Pallavi Kumar
School of Communications
Assistant Professor 


As an AU alum, what areas of support do you think are most important for first gen students at AU?

As a first-generation college student, you are always confronted with the fact that there are no guideposts. As the first person in your family to go to college, it can be so difficult to know how to prepare for all the challenges that lie ahead. I think the most important type of support is to pair students with faculty and staff mentors who can advise on course and career planning and to listen to what your career goals are and then provide some guidance on how to achieve them. Things like how to get an internship, what to major/minor in, whether to study abroad and how to pursue graduate education were all areas that I would have loved some extra guidance.


If you could go to dinner with anyone (deceased or living), who it would it be and where would you go? 

I would love to go to dinner in the village of Tori in Gujarat, India with my grandmother who passed away when I was in a middle school.  Tori is the village where my mom's family is from and since there are no archival records of our family's past, it would be amazing to hear my grandmother's stories while eating in the village where my family started. I am sure the food would be really good too!

Share Your Story With CDI!
Meet Caroline
Coordinator of Multicultural and First-Generation Programming at CDI. 
First-Generation Welcome: Caroline DeLeon

To really support AU's First Generation students, CDI wants to hear your voice. 

If interested in sharing your story, please contact

Save the Date!

First Generation Workshop
Thursday, October 16th
1:00-3:00pm in MGC 203-205

This workshop will provide an overview of common challenges facing first-generation college students. Participants will increase their awareness of this growing population at AU and receive helpful strategies and tools to better understand and support these students as it relates to your area of work.

First Generation Networking Hour
Wednesday, November 12th
12:00-1:00pm in MGC 200

Often times, being the first in your family to attend college can spark so many questions, emotions, and confusion. Join fellow AU first-generation students, staff, and faculty as we dialogue about what this identity means to and how to finish the semester strong!



Am I First-Generation?

American University is committed to enhancing the experience of first-generation students through providing resources, support, and guidance to successfully achieve degree completion.
First-Generation Support

AU defines first-generation as students whose parent(s) or guardian(s) have never attended a college or university.