Pretty much everyone I know at Oberlin is overextended. Students take on more extracurricular activities than any human can attend to and professors assign more reading than there is time for in the day. After (for example) a shift chopping onions at the coop, playing an hour of free jazz on WOBC, attending meeting for the Pagan Awareness Network, and then writing your opinion column for the Grape, how can you possibly find time to read two hundred pages about feminist movements in Southeast Asia? You can't. So forget it. Don't worry about it.
I was checking out the redesign of the Oberlin website the other day and I was glad to see that there is a section, prominently displayed, called "Beyond the Books." Because at least half of the stuff that matters most to people here has nothing to do with what goes on inside a classroom.
Long coop meetings can teach you just as much about politics as any chapters Hobbes or Marx. Talking to your friend who grew up in a Protestant family in Iowa sometimes helps you understand religion better than a 200-level class on Modern Religious Thought in the West. And sometimes going to a concert or watching a movie with your friends or staying out until three in the morning hanging out is just what you want to do.
You'll feel guilty. I guarantee. Especially when you're a first-year. You might say to yourself, "How can I be paying all this money for school and not even finish my assignments?" or "I really don't want to disappoint my professor by looking lazy and ignorant." And those are totally valid points. You don't want to throw away your opportunity to get a great education and it's always painful when you feel unprepared for class.
Then again, there are times when you won't feel too guilty. A lot of the work you're assigned for class is interesting and you really want to do it. But a lot of the time it isn't. Just as politics is still politics under Obama, homework is still homework even at Oberlin. And that means sometimes you'll be less than tortured about having to blow off a response paper or a chapter of reading in exchange for a few hours volunteering at the middle school or going to a concert of the contemporary music ensemble.
Either way, it's going to happen. I just wanted to warn you.