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Pressure Points: How Students Approach Academic Stress

Published on 4/29/2021 8:03:24 AM
By Rachel Sumang, Office of Undergraduate Studies at Texas A&M University
 
April is National Stress Awareness Month, but the month also marks the end of the Spring semester and the beginning of final exams. Often, the finals season proves to be anything but stress-relieving for college students.
 
Notifications from professors flood students’ Canvas dashboards reminding them of critical assignment deadlines or finalized course grades. Many students take hold of opportunities like term papers, group projects, or final exams to keep up with their GPA or push themselves to make a better grade in a class.
 
The pressure that students feel to excel and succeed academically can be tremendous. As students balance full course loads with extracurricular activities, this feeling can intensify at the end of each term.
 
Though, this semester, Business Honors junior Paola Sagel believes it is one of the most hectic periods she has experienced at Texas A&M by far.
 
“I find having numerous exams all within the span of one week to be the most stressful when it comes to finals. Yes, of course I get stressed normally when I have one or two exams on the same week. With finals this year, I now have five exams within the span of three days which is incredibly difficult to study for all [exams]. I find the most stress in my life when it comes to schoolwork or task management,” said Sagel.
 
Students also have had to adjust to online or hybrid teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sagel adds that the pandemic has affected the way that she prepares and studies for her exams.
 
“With COVID, my school time, relax time, and have fun time are all in the comfort of my room. This makes it hard to differentiate when I should be working, when I should be giving myself a break, and when I should be enjoying myself and having fun,” states Sagel.
 
Students like Sagel have done their best to acclimate to learning over Zoom, but they still look for solutions to help them overcome the obstacles that are associated with a turbulent school environment.
 
Some resolutions for school-induced stress are found in accessible places for students at Texas A&M. Agricultural Economics junior Colton Henderson finds refuge from finals stress in the advice and guidance of his professors.
 
“My professor helped us go through our healthy and unhealthy habits and create a schedule for our week. Since addressing my time management issues, I have seen extremely healthy changes in the way I feel around finals week,” said Henderson.
 
The Academic Success Center (ASC) often works closely with students to help them manage their time as one strategy to cope with the stress of college.
 
ASC Director Lyle Slack explains that the academic coaching staff have been in students’ shoes and are able to recognize the importance of self-care. 
 
“Reframing poor self-talk, putting perfectionism into perspective, perpetuating academic grittiness, and simply learning basic relaxation study techniques can often turn the tide away from moments of debilitating student stress,” said Slack.
 
Students may also consult with counselors at TAMU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) if they are struggling with their mental health during finals. Additionally, CAPS has online resources like Sanvello and MindShift available to students who want to incorporate self-care and meditation exercises into their finals or daily routine. These resources, while not a sole substitute for counseling, can help students who are on the go as the semester ends.
 
Students are encouraged to explore and use resources like CAPS and the ASC. As we welcome the start of final exams, Texas A&M has ensured that students have the tools to flourish academically and mentally.

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Media contact: Anna Transue, Communications Manager, transuea@tamu.edu