Out of 89 percent of college students who said they were stressed at least two to four times a semester, 39 percent of the students surveyed credited finals as the biggest source of their stress, according to a 2016 study conducted by MentalHelp, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers.
There’s a certain culture surrounding finals week of consecutive all-nighters in the library, living off caffeinated drinks as students tackle their last assignments and exams of the semester.
“I feel a lot of people have the idea or belief that during finals, they need to cram in all the information in order to get the grade that they want,” Plattsburgh State sophomore Alexis Larreategui, an environmental studies and philosophy double major, said. “They fail to realize that rest is really important, and if your brain is rested, there’s a better chance of you actually retaining [that] information.”
PSUC senior public relations and psychology double-major and Macomb Hall resident assistant Victoria Adebanjo believes there’s a sort of competition that goes on as students compare who has eaten and slept the least and who has the most work to do.
“In all honesty, whoever has the most sleep is the one winning,” Adebanjo said. “You’re only hurting yourself. That grade will reflect this later.”
More than 34 percent of students said stress negatively impacted their academic performance, according to a study done by the American College Association.
But there are ways to make finals week easier to handle where students can really absorb and learn the content they’re studying, not just memorizing it.
Larreategui and Adebanjo said proper self-care and effective time management were among the most important habits students can pick up to conquer finals week.
“I try to manage my time by seeing which finals are first, and which I feel are going to need the most study time toward,” Larreategui said.
She said she begins planning study sessions based off this information.
Adebanjo and Larreategui both said eating healthy food and snacks and making time to exercise and taking breaks were all important things to do during this stressful time.
Both students said studying while you’re hungry is only a distraction, and the goal is to limit distractions while studying for finals as much as possible.
“Eat and stay hydrated,” Adebanjo said. “If you’re not giving your body the proper nutrients it needs to take care of itself, you’re not going to be able to focus or retain anything.”
Larreategui and Adebanjo both emphasized the importance of taking breaks while studying.
“To go four hours straight studying will also have negative effects,” Larreategui said. “It’s important to let your mind rest. I like to take 10 minute rests to just close my eyes or walk around.”
Both agreed that it isn’t healthy to sit for too long periods of time either. They recommended taking a walk around the library or doing some yoga.
“To conquer finals, as a senior saying this, you need to take care of yourself first,” Adebanjo said. “Start early, and you can avoid a lot of the pressure of finals week.”
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