Winning the War, Not the Battle

A pyrrhic victory: a victory won at too great a cost. What good is a single success if it is the only thing supporting you? If it is won at the expense of your happiness or stability? When it comes to facing the many challenges that college will inevitably throw in your face, you need to pick your battles.

This is especially true in the academic department. With all of your newfound freedom can come a lot of new self-imposed expectations. After all, when there is nobody else breathing down your neck, doesn’t it make sense that you’d do it yourself?


There’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of self motivation, but the worst thing for your stress levels is constant, unadulterated, internalized pressure. And if you’re too stressed about your grades, you’ll find it hard to get anything done. Keeping everything in perspective is difficult, but here’s how I try to do it every day:

Ask yourself: Why?
Do you want to do well in school? Why? Never stop asking yourself these questions. Do you want to learn? Do you want to get a specific job? Into graduate school, maybe? Do you just want a high GPA? Create your academic plan based on your goals, instead of overwhelming yourself with too many expectations. As one of my fellow interns, Sofia, said during our first weekly summer podcast, “you can do anything, but not everything.” Do not expect to accomplish everything, and the goals that you do choose will become much more feasible. If you put your schoolwork in the context of some greater goal, it will have more purpose and you will have less meaningless stress.

Plan your fun
I can’t stress this one enough. Plan your fun, and plan it in advance. As I wrote in my blog post “Have Good Study Habits, Naturally,” planning fun or social events for yourself can be a great tactic to get in the habit of scheduling and having a good sense of time. However, it can also be a great way to make sure you don’t get too bogged down with excess stress at any given time. Relaxing is important, and it can be hard to remember that. If you plan out your relaxation time, you won’t accidentally brush it to the wayside when the going gets tough.

Find a mantra
As the Campus Clipper intern family discussed in that first podcast, and as has stuck in my mind ever since, a mantra can go a long way towards keeping yourself in check. My mantra has always been something to the effect of “fight the war, not the battle.” To me, this means always keeping the big picture in sight. One little slip-up doesn’t mean the end, and if you choose to think it does, then you’ve already taken a toll on your happiness far greater than that of the slip-up. When I apply this mantra to my schoolwork, it’s both a strategy for success and for keeping myself calm.  I focus on the larger picture in order to distribute time between assignments, but I also focus on the larger picture to keep those priorities in perspective and avoid sweating the little stuff.

By Madeleine Fleming

Madeleine Fleming is a Campus Clipper publishing intern and a rising sophomore at NYU.  A lover of reading, writing, and learning in every way possible, Madeleine is excited to be writing about college study habits for the Campus Clipper. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services. 

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


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