Monthly Archives: May 2013

Types of Students during Finals Week

Doesn’t it seem like every semester finals come around faster than you thought they would?  Now you find yourself stressing about studying enough for each class and trying to figure out what grade you can possibly get in each class.  Everyone hunkers down in their favorite study spots whether it is in Cook Library, Liberal Arts, or your dorm.  Everyone seems to be so busy!  procrastinationHere is a fun list of students that you will probably run into in your favorite study spot.

Crammer
Crammers use the remaining balance on their student account to buy Red Bull and coffee.  During finals week, you scope out areas, restaurants, and coffee shops open 24-hours. The night before a final, you glue yourself to your notes, dust off your textbook and start reading.  Your table at the library has a pile of old food containers, empty Starbucks cups, and papers everywhere.  Your eyes are bloodshot but determined.  Wondering why all the weird looks from students passing you by in the library? They see your sleeping bag and pillow and the I’ve-been-cramming-for-3-days-straight look on your face.

Cheerleader
Your motto at finals time is “you can do it!” Your idea of preparing for finals is to bake cookies for people studying, write “good luck” notes on your roommate’s door, and stand outside lecture halls with big YOU CAN DO IT signs. What’s in your calendar?  The dates/times of Dan’s, Carrie’s, Beth’s, Tim’s, and Emma’s exams, of course.  Someone has to pump them up and that someone is you!

Social Media Addict
Social media addicts FREAK OUT during finals because they don’t know if they will make it through the 1-hour, no-cell-phone final.  You secretly wish you could tweet your answers to your professors and then do a quick search in the app store for “complete finals app” and no luck.  Your idea of preparing for finals is to schedule posts in advance on Facebook, warn your Twitter followers months in advance that @socialmediaaddict will be MIA be6tween 10:00am-11:00am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and ask a friend to repin new Pinterest pins while you are taking your exams.  During each exam, you go through an entire pack of gum and tap your thumb to minimize your withdrawal symptoms. You hope that maybe pretending to post your next Instragram photo will help you focus more on the final and less on what’s happening on Instagram.

All-Star
All-stars make up a famous group of talented, well-prepared, and high-performing students.  The all-star student starts preparin8g for finals the first day of class. Right from the start, your dorm or house is filled with stacks of flashcards, highlighted notes, and marked textbook pages.  You can recite the date and exact time of each final and likely have your pencil sharpened and set aside for these special days.  In class, you’re the first one to raise your hand and ask, “Will this be on the final?” Even though the professor says no, you star it anyway “just in case”.  You want to be prepared, right?

Preparing for Finals Tips

  • Use the AAC’s tutoring services & Professors’ office hours
  • Create a Study Schedule
  • Use your course syllabus or study guide to focus on the material you need to know
  • Take breaks while studying; we recommend taking a 3-5 minute break every 30-45 minutes
  • Sleep! At least the recommend amount
  • Find a distraction-free study area
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to study; start now!
  • Study the material using a variety of methods (i.e., flashcards, completing practice problems, and reciting aloud the content)
  • Form a study group
  • Create a practice test

Jennifer Wendt & Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialists
Academic Achievement Center

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Managing End-of-Semester Stress with Mindfulness

Mindfulness can help manage our reaction to stress. Stress is unavoidable in our lives, and mindfulness includes one set of tools that can help us cope with stress. When we feel stress, our bodies and minds respond in a way that prepares us for fight or flight. Often, this may translate into physical or emotional constriction, narrow focus, worry and fear about the future, or activities like procrastination or distraction (e.g., through drinking, TV, internet/Facebook, emotional eating, etc.). We learn that the only way to deal with our stress is to avoid it or try to make it go away. But just like that annoying song that you can’t get out of your mind by trying not to think about it, attempting to ignore the stress in our lives does not make it go away.

Mindfulness is about an alternative way to relate to feelings of stress other than fight or flight mode. The essence of mindfulness is learning to bring our attention to the present moment in an open, nonjudgmental way. By doing so, it is possible to learn that uncomfortable feelings of stress do not need to be avoided or pushed away, and instbe-present1-300x181ead it is possible to welcome those feelings without our typical resistance to them. As a result, if we are not spending our energy trying to avoid or mitigate stress, we have much more freedom to do the things in life that are important to us. Research has linked mindfulness to other benefits including more compassion in relationships, less avoidance of thoughts or activities, better physical health, better immune system function, less worrying about the past or future, better sleep, and a better ability to cope with a variety of everyday stressors.

I think a lot of people have the idea that meditation means sitting cross-legged on a cushion chanting “OM.” While that may be helpful for some people, mindfulness can take a variety of forms, and people can incorporate it into many aspects of their daily lives. While some people may benefit from having a more formal, dedicated time and place to meditate, others experience benefits from doing some mindful breathing or relaxation right before class or an exam; before, during, or after schoolwork or studying; while walking across campus; before or while spending time with other people; while eating a meal; and as they are falling asleep. During mindfulness workshops, staff from the Counseling Center teach short exercises that people can practice throughout their days to help achieve a more relaxed, worry-free, centered, and open state of being. At the same time, mindfulness is not a panacea, so students experiencing more severe stress, depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, substance abuse, concerns with body image, or other marked distress, I would recommend that they set up an appointment at the Counseling Center (410-704-2512) to get feedback about the best course of treatment.

Exams can definitely be an added stressor on top of all the other stresses and pressures students already face. As finals are approaching this semester, consider practicing some basic mindfulness, which may even improve test performance. And if it seems like mindfulness is just one extra thing that you should do but don’t have time for, think again. There are even various apps or free downloads that can help you get started.

Jon Gorman
The Counseling Center

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