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The Day in the Life of Freshmen at Claremont McKenna College

Many CMCers can no longer remember their daily routines as first-year students. How did they balance their time? What were their priorities?

Two first-year students shared a day in their lives as an example of the average first-year's day. Both students report having a sufficient amount of free time each week, spending time with friends, reading, sketching, watching television, or online. In addition to having jobs, both students begin their day by working out at Roberts Pavilion during the school week. Outside of class, they are involved in clubs and attend events occasionally.

For instance, one first year's schedule is as follows:

7:30-7:45 a.m.

  • She wakes up, goes to the gym, and then showers. If time permits, she completes some homework before class.

11:00-12:15 p.m.

  • She attends the first class of the day.

12:15 p.m.

  • She eats lunch and attends class afterward.

"My afternoons and evenings are filled with pretty much just homework. If I have a club meeting for Psych Club or Power of Women (POW), I'll go to that. I'll go to events sponsored by Psych Club or POW. I should expand my horizons and go to more events. I try to go once every two weeks. I love going to the Athenaeum, so I also try to go once every two weeks," she said.

Since CMC does not allow first-year students to have cars on campus, many don't leave CMC often.

"I usually work once a week off-campus, but I don't go to the Village that often. I go maybe once a month. I don't have a car yet, so I don't get off campus that much. But, I do go to events at other schools or see friends there," she said.

To reduce stress, she prioritizes spending time with friends and doing nonacademic activities. Finding a balance between being social and alone is a goal for both of these first-years, so they don't neglect their mental health.

"I have a pretty good amount of free time right now, but this depends on whether I have a midterm that week because then most of my free time would be spent studying or working on a big project. But, I do try to allow myself time to visit friends or relax by watching TV just because I'll go insane if I don't take a little bit of time for myself," she said.

Despite experiencing pressure to always be productive, she feels that she has options regarding her daily schedule.

"For the most part, I would say that I keep myself pretty busy, and it's a lot of work, but it's manageable. If I'm sitting around and I don't have anything to do, there's usually some reading I could get ahead on if I want to be productive. If I don't want to be productive, then I can relax. It's nice to have that option," she said.

10:30 p.m.

  • To get a full night's rest, she tries to get to sleep by 10:30, which is early by most CMCers' standards.

Another first-year student researches for an economics professor on Mondays and works at Roberts Pavilion on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Her schedule on Mondays and Wednesdays is as follows:

7:30-10:50 a.m.

  • She hits the gym bright and early, followed by breakfast and a shower.

Both students prioritize exercising in the mornings to increase productivity, alleviate stress, and maintain their physical health.

11:00-2:30 p.m.

  • She attends her first class, grabs a quick lunch, and heads to her 1:15 class.

2:45-4:00 p.m.

  • With a heavy class load on Wednesdays and Thursdays, she then goes to her last class of the day.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she attends only one class and participates in Mock Trial and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) as a Fellow.

With a few hours of free time each day, she believes that most first-years are trying to learn effective time management skills. Since living on-campus allows them more free time, both are trying to balance their time since their time was more structured in high school.

"I feel like [my time management] could be better. I feel like I'm struggling to understand what my priorities are and what I want to get out of the college experience. There is a continual change in perspective between, 'Oh, I should be going out more,' or "I should be sleeping more.' One thing I feel that I may have neglected is my own personal care just because I'm in this world where I feel like I have to meet new people and do more work or be consistently productive. My personal care has suffered, but I'm still working on balance. It's a work in progress," she said.

During her free time, she finds herself on campus talking to friends or watching television; she also exercises to destress.

"I go to my Institute's events, but otherwise I go to events very minimally. I've been on a couple of CPB events. I've been to the Atheneum three times. I go to the Village sometimes. I've been there maybe two or three times. I go out with my friends almost every weekend night. And, I go out to bigger events probably once a week," she said.

Since coming to college, she struggles to prioritize her favorite hobbies, including drawing, due to lack of time and motivation. With different Claremont Colleges continually hosting events, both students are trying to balance productivity and self-care.

"I think I need more creative outlets. For me, I would go back to sketching or doing some reading for pleasure. I have to decide to prioritize myself, and I think I'm not the only one who has difficulty doing that in a new environment. We all want to do our best and feel comfortable with others, so we kind of neglect how we feel about ourselves," she said.


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