Surviving finals week

By Kate McCarthy

SUNY Brockport students in Drake Memorial Library. Photo by Kate McCarthy taken on 4/25/22

Anxiety. Stress. Essays. Deadlines. Studying. These are all too familiar for college students during finals week and SUNY Brockport students in particular are preparing for the stressful end of yet another semester.

According to a 2016 study, 89 percent of college students said they were stressed at least two to four times per semester, and 30 percent said they were stressed for almost the entire semester. Even more, 31 percent of students surveyed said that finals were the biggest source of stress.

Finals week can and often is the most daunting part of the semester for students. According to SUNY Brockport mental health counselor Keegan Johnston, the main causes are pressure to succeed and stress.

“I think that a lot of the stress that students experience comes from the level of pressure that often comes with finals week. For some students, they might see it as the make our breakpoint in their success in their classes. I think a lot of weight gets put on it in general,” Johnston said.

Time management plays a major role in the stress of finals week as well. SUNY Brockport student Gavin Ellis says it can be hard to discern which classes should be prioritized.

“I think the biggest issue that I face in finals week is kind of prioritizing what I should study for first. I feel like usually there’s always one class that has more of an intensive test, it’s harder to study or prepare for because you don’t really know what’s coming up,” Ellis said.

The limited amount of time students have to get major assignments done is one thing. Finding the energy to push through is another. With summer break so close, it can be particularly hard to stay motivated.

“One of the other things I find hard for finals week is just having the energy because it’s towards the end of the semester and you’re already kind of wrapping up,” Ellis said. “You’re pretty much ready to go so it’s just hard to actually feel motivated to study because you’re at the last stretch especially for myself because I’m a senior.”

The stress of finals week is even more intense for student-athletes. Catherine Johnson, a fifth-year pitcher for the SUNY Brockport softball team, has to use any time available outside of her sport to study.  

“It’s definitely more stressful because you don’t have the time to just sit in the library or get your stuff together and prepare for the week,” Johnson said. “You have to do that on the bus or like on a Sunday when you’re exhausted. You have to come back and do work but you already played four games in a week so you’re really tired.”

In order to cope with finals week while playing softball, Johnson relies on caffeine.

“Caffeine – I feel like that’s the average answer but it’s scary the amount of caffeine that a college student will consume during finals week and especially if you have to get up for practice or be in the library all day,” Johnson said.

While Johnson counts on caffeine to get through finals week, Ellis checks in with peers to help him endure the stress.

“To get through finals week I feel like with anxiety and stress I kind of feel like I have to talk to other people. It encourages me to reach out to other people. It helps me prepare more mentally so I’m more at ease when I’m going in for a test,” Ellis said.

While both strategies get the job done, college students should remember to center sleeping, eating, and self-care as much as possible in their hectic schedules.

“First of all, sleeping is important. Healthy sleep is like the center of everything so making sure they’re not staying up all night, making sure they are eating. Even though there’s a lot to do, they’re still taking time to take care of themselves, to take a break, take a walk,” Johnston said.

The counseling center on campus offers several services for students who are severely overwhelmed.

“We have a lot of different services. We primarily do individual counseling where a student can come in and work with a counselor to address different therapeutic goals like stress or anxiety which are definitely related to finals. But, you know, anything really under the sun that a student may be struggling with,” Johnston said.

SUNY Brockport counseling center on campus. Photo taken by Kate McCarthy on 5/3/22
Inside of SUNY Brockport counseling center. Photo taken by Kate McCarthy on 5/2/2

Finding the time to make an appointment may just add more stress to finals week. Walk-in hours accommodate for this.

“We have walk-in hours which is another big thing. Students can come in – they have the opportunity Monday through Friday where students in immediate need can come in and talk to somebody,” Johnston said.

Despite the chaos of finals week, students should keep in mind that it is only temporary.



Categories: Brockport, Campus Life, college students, Education, News, SUNY Brockport, The Community

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