Opportunity Knocks?


The academic environment can present a myriad of opportunities for students. There are always presentations and conferences to attend, cultural and sporting events, volunteer activities, trainings, faculty-led research projects, exciting new course offerings, etc. However, as a ScholarMom, you know that time is incredibly valuable. Its just not possible to say yes to everything (well, at least not if you want to maintain any semblance of sanity or happiness).

The reality is that not every project/event/whatever is an actual opportunity. Life can quickly become overrun with filler. Universities are great places for collecting stuff to do. Don’t get me wrong. One of the most amazing aspects of higher education is that it allows you to learn about endless topics, meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered, and just try new things (possibly with a goal in mind or maybe just for the sake of trying them). The world is full of people who tried something new on a whim and stumbled upon a new passion. I happen to be one of those people. Originally, I was a Business Administration major. It never really got me excited though. It was only after selecting an intro to psychology course for an elective that I realized that I belonged in the mental health field.

So at this point you’re probably thinking, “What the heck, Ariel? Should I or shouldn’t I sign up for everything that comes through my inbox?” No, you shouldn’t. Let me tell you why. There are true opportunities and then there are just things to do. At some point you will need to establish a hierarchy of opportunity to guide your choices. Here are a few of the factors that I consider:

  • Will this activity impact my grade?
  • Is there any relevance for professional development?
  • Is this a rare or reoccurring event?
  • Are there alternative means of accessing the desired payoff (information, skill, connections, etc.)
  • If I participate in this activity, what will I be missing out on? Am I ok with that?

Depending on my responses, it might make sense to pass on attending a particular event. However, if this is something that only happens every once in a while or that may have long-term repercussions, I’m in there like swimwear!

What are your deciding factors on when to say yes to opportunities? How has motherhood impacted your decision making process? Do you feel judged when you say “no”?