Decades of shallow movies and TV shows about university life have taught us that there's really only two modes of college life: studying or partying.

Of course, the reality is far more complicated and so is the recipe for success in school.

New research recently published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science finds that successful students need not choose between socializing and studying, but should instead learn to balance the two strategically. 

"Instead of avoiding temptations like a plague, students can make plans to enjoy them without compromising the overall long-term goal pursuit," says Lile Jia, a social psychologist and study co-author at the National University of Singapore.

In a series of three studies, each involving between 216 and 530 college students, the researchers compared how students with differing grade point averages (GPAs) managed their time around a college basketball game day. The study noted whether students watched the game on television, met up with friends or attended in person. 

The researchers found that high GPA students managed their time in such a way that allowed them to "indulge" in game-time activities but was balanced by planning other times to study. Lower GPA students failed to demonstrate the same kind of strategic balancing approach. 

The new study adds some nuance to previous research that links spending time on college game-related activities to poor learning outcomes. 

Instead the reality may be, as the researchers suggest, that socializing around college game days "can build social identity as well as improve self esteem and psychological well-being."

Jia says the key is being selective about indulging and being sure to compensate for the indulgence. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, with this article done it's time for me to head to the stadium.

Published on: Aug 24, 2018
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