I’m not about to lie to you, being a full-time college student and a competitive equestrian is not easy. It involves giving up a lot of your time to drive to shows and train, and then cramming in homework and studying every spare chance you get. But if you, like me, are balancing school and riding and want to know my tips for keeping it all straight, keep reading!

Tip #1: A Planner

I know I spoke about this in one of my first blog posts, but I cannotstress to you enough about how important it is to have a way to write down (or type up, if you’re going digital) every little thing on your schedule. For my senior year I invested in a Ban.do planner that blatantly says “I Am Very Busy” on the cover, both as a joke and as the truest statement about this current semester. Inside I color-coordinate my riding schedule, meetings for Greek life, school assignments, internship obligations, and general tasks I need to complete (such as groceries, laundry, cleaning, etc.). Having it all laid out so I can see where I need to divvy up my time makes it so that I not only stay on top of everything, but also that I know when to inform professors of any classes I will miss coming up.

Tip #2: Send Out Your Schedule

At the start of my semester, I asked my trainer to send me a complete list of all shows I would be particpating in through December. This served two purposes: first, I could dance around when I saw all my show opportunities and get excited, and two, it made it so I could type up the complete schedule and distribute it to my professors so they could be aware of when I would miss a class and where I would be. When I later emailed my professors and attached it along with a short letter explaining who I was, my major, class standing, and my sport, it made it much easier for everyone to be on the same page about potential absences, and also provided them the opportunity to ask any questions about my schedule if needed. If you are nervous about the number of classes you may miss, however, my next tip is for you!

Tip #3: Contacting the Dean of Students

At my college in particular, the Dean of Students is available to contact through email, so when I first got my schedule and started matching the days up with my class schedule, I made the decision to email the Dean about my situation. By doing this, I not only was able to explain to the Dean why this was so important to me, but I also had the chance to have another person at the university to back me up if my professors were difficult about the class sessions I was missing. At my college especially, class participation is always factored into your grade with attendance, and having another person to help me explain not only my situation, but the requirements of my sport proved to be helpful when contacting my professors further.

Tip #4: Have A Minute? Do Your Homework!

I know, I know. You’re tired, you just got back from a three-day horse show, and the last thing you want to do is homework. Well, you could put it off until tomorrow and then cram in three classes’ worth of work by noon, or you could work on it slowly the night before. This tip seems like a no-brainer, but speaking as someone who usually has multiple books to read per week and assignments on top of that, doing your homework when you have the chance to is incredibly important. This means bringing reading with you to the horse show, writing papers after you get home, and sometimes holing yourself up in the library for four hours to catch up (that was me yesterday). Trust me, if you do your work when you have a spare minute, you will thank yourself time and time again, because there is nothing worse than rushing to finish an assignment on no sleep and too much caffeine.

Speaking of homework, I have some things to proofread before class today. If these tips help you, or if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below!