Why not just go cold turkey and quit WoW until summer?
Leisure time is important. All work and no play really isn't good for you. You need the mental downtime and the stress release. So even if you are behind on your studies, you should still be spending some of your waking hours playing at something. I highly recommend doing something active outdoors as well, but spending an hour or two in WoW every once in a while is a cheap, convenient way to unwind.
You need to learn discipline. Whether you are in high school or college, you are still living in a kind of sheltered environment. When you are off on your own, without the safety net of an institution designed to cater to your every need, it will be up to you to balance your life successfully. And if you fail? You risk losing your job, home, etc. Right now, you only risk having to repeat classes and attend extra sessions. Take advantage of the safety net to learn the habits you need now so that it will be easier later.
You can always return to raiding. You have the skills and at this point in the game, you should be pretty well geared. Raiding will be there when you have completed your classes successfully for this term. And if you handled it correctly, your guild will probably let you have your old raid spot back pretty quickly.
How do I go casual and still have fun?
Plan your time. Make a schedule that allows for a healthy amount of sleep and all of your mandatory activities. Allow yourself blocks of time for WoW play sessions during evenings where your next day's workload is light and on weekends. Your schedule should be flexible enough to allow for heavier study loads and project due dates. Make your WoW sessions shorter when necessary. Yes, you need leisure time, but you can do without for a day to get higher priorities taken care of.
You may still be able to raid once a week. Your raid nights are probably week nights. But take an intelligent look at your schedule. Some days are probably lighter workloads than others. Be smart about it and if you think you can raid on Tuesdays because your Wednesday schedule is usually pretty light, then do it. But if the wipes start getting out of control or other activities are encouraged after the main raid, find yourself a replacement and bail. Don't play past your scheduled end time.
Communicate with your guild. Let your guild know that you have to buckle down and get to studying, and therefore you'll be going casual for a bit. They will understand and be able to adjust accordingly. And if they don't? It's not the right guild for you, considering your age and educational status. The good raiding guilds will have a status reserved just for raiders who have to go casual and procedures in place for when this happens. There are plenty of top notch progression guilds that successfully have real lives. These are also the guilds that you want to belong to when you get a full time job.
Don't just do dailies and weeklies. Sure, they're great for players with limited playtime, but you want a variety to keep it fun. This game is what you make of it. Captain Obvious says if all you do is tedium, the game is tedious.
Roll an alt. Yeah, with all this Cataclysm news, rolling an alt seems irrelevant. But I promise it's still fun if you do it right. Come join us in <It came from the Blog>, where you will find other raiders hanging out when they aren't worrying about progression. The popularity of Choose My Adventure means that there is often someone there leveling and wanting to chat. Or go level through the content that is going to change in other ways. Which reminds me...
Make a bucket list. Surely you have some non-raiding things you want to accomplish before the next expansion. Make a list and check it twice before it's too late.
There is a lot more casual fun to be had. I already listed it a lot of it here.
But don't just listen to me. Our seasoned readers who manage to have fun during their limited playtime year round can also give you some tips for having fun in shorter sessions. Check out the comments for more advice while you are "slumming it" with us.
Finishing school with the best grades possible is so much more important than helping your guild progress through content. Duh. And though it seems interminable now, it really is such a short part of your life. You will most likely regret not taking advantage of what school provides later on. But the same cannot be said about getting some shiny pixels. So come join us for a season, while you get your academic act together. We don't have cooties and we won't hold those nasty comments you made about our playstyle against you ... much.
WoW, Casually is a column for those of us who are playtime-challenged. We've got your guides for choosing the best class, finding a casual guild, keeping your account safe and choosing the best addons for casual play. But wait there's more! If you have questions or tips about how to get the most out of your limited playtime, please send them to robin AT wow DOT com for a possible future column.