Your Kelley Confidante: Staying True To Yourself In A Competitive Environment

Across campus, the Kelley School maintains a reputation for driven, passionate, and competitive students. While this reputation is well-deserved, it can be intimidating. With so much opportunity at your fingertips, it is easy to feel overwhelmed being among highly accomplished students and distracted by what others believe to be the “right way” to do things. However, I do have some tips on making sure you stay true to yourself while navigating your experience in a competitive school!

1. Make the Kelley Community Your Own

Kelley boasts an undergraduate population of just over 10,000. I recommend making Kelley your own by finding your “people ” through getting involved. In doing so, you’ll meet people with similar interests and passions. More than that, they will inspire and motivate you while providing a sense of community.

Kelley Student Government (KSG), my favorite Kelley student organization, established the foundation of my Kelley career. I joined KSG as Director of Student Life on the Executive Committee. In this role, I collaborated with veteran members to improve holistic student wellness through engaging events and programming. My personal favorite was the Random Acts of Kindness Day. This included the Kindness Ball Drop, where we dropped hundreds of paper pom poms off the balcony into the commons for students to win prizes. Because members of this organization share the same passion for Kelley, I have been continually motivated to pursue my goals both professionally and personally. Joining KSG introduced me to older students with unique perspectives. From gaining insight into best classes and favorite professors to advice on internships and Kelley traditions in my role as Director of Student Life, these mentors helped me diligently pursue my goals of strengthening the Kelley community while taking advantage of opportunities within Kelley.

2. Break Out of Hodge Hall

It is very easy to attend your classes, participate in extracurricular activities, and study all within Hodge Hall. However, you should look to open new opportunities within your schedule to see campus and students outside of Kelley. Whether you explore campus via your general education requirements or extracurriculars, you can become more engaged, well-rounded and competitive by exposing yourself to new people.

For me, my studio art minor is one way I ventured out of Hodge Hall. I have taken 3-hour studio classes twice a week in buildings all over campus. I have learned about graphic design, sculpture, and (my personal favorite) printmaking. To this day, my only regret was a drawing class where I was given three hours to draw a clementine. While art may not be for everyone, these smaller studio classes gave me scheduled opportunities to decompress, explore campus, and step away from the rigor of Kelley.

3. Find Time for You

Finally, and arguably most important, make time for yourself. If you are burned out, you won’t be able to best represent yourself in your classes or other pursuits. While we are a competitive community, Kelley really prioritizes mental health and finding balance. If you don’t know what self-care looks like for you, Kelley offers many resources and mental health programming.

For example, our student support offices provide opportunities for mental health events throughout the semester and individual counseling. To me, the most notable mental health series is Balance Week, a week of student- and faculty0-run mental health events to alleviate stress prior to midterms and finals, and individual counseling. One of my favorite Balance Week activities is “plate smashing.” You write what has been weighing on you on a plate and smash it! It is as therapeutic as it sounds! If plate smashing is not for you and you need a moment to recharge, you can always take advantage of the Balance Room. This is a year-round mental health room that is only available to Kelley students.

I have found that when I am feeling overwhelmed, giving myself the space and time to recharge is the best thing I can do. Trying to “tough it out” inevitably leads to a greater burnout and negative performance. Staying true to yourself as a Kelley student really means not forgoing your communities, passions, and self-care  in pursuit of your goals. Ultimately, achieving those goals requires you to be at your peak – and that means calm, rested, and open to the possibilities.


Madeline Heath is a third year at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business where she is majoring in Marketing and International Business and minoring in Studio Art. Maddie is passionate about the Kelley community and devotes much of her time to Kelley Student Government where she has served as Director of Student Life and currently serves as First Year Engagement Lead. A creative at heart, Maddie believes in the power of an imaginative approach and is excited to share favorite experiences and insights about Kelley with you!

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