By Diane Schwemm with Karen Jashinsky
The last few weeks of the semester, culminating in final exams, are rough on college students.
As a parent, you may have your own memories (I recall shuffling back to my dorm through the snow after an all-nighter spent finishing a history paper), or your student may be venturing into new territory.
One thing is for sure: between end-of-term projects and multiple exams, students will be pushed to their limits this month. Here are some of the stress factors and fears our students face during finals, and suggestions for supporting them from a distance.
With the pressure of three or more exams in one week, students tend to get stressed. First- and second-year students especially are still mastering time management. Stress can cause students to panic and even feel paralyzed.
Every student reaches a point during this intensive studying when she feels she simply can’t take in any more information without her brain exploding. Yet study on she must!
Finals are synonymous with no social life. A recent graduate noted that, during finals, “Campus always seemed to go dead as people secluded themselves in places where they wouldn’t be bothered.” Students may feel lonely or isolated.
As they hit the books with a vengeance, students forget to recharge their batteries by going outside and eating regular meals that include whole, healthy foods. They assume they don’t have time for exercise — one of nature’s best stress relievers and energy boosters.
During stressful times, it’s common for students to eat emotionally. “Finals week derails everyone’s eating habits since we just want to get our hands on whatever energy booster we can,” one student observed. This often means sugar-filled foods and highly-caffeinated drinks. Misuse of prescription meds is also a serious concern during finals.
Stress can turn into full-blown anxiety for students who are afraid they may fail an exam, or even a class. Anxiety can bring on emotional eating (with attendant weight gain), acne, and eczema. Fatigue and stress can spiral into a seasonal depression.
Remind your student that there are plentiful support resources on campus, especially during finals season.
Advise your student to:
Finals can take a toll on a student’s self-confidence. When our students are doubting their abilities, we can let them know we believe in them, and are unfailingly proud of their hard work and dedication. We can also shift the focus from a grade earned in a particular class to the big picture: their long-term goals and all that they are accomplishing in college.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our Community Forum and College Parents’ Facebook group.
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