Students and the weight of finals

Finals week. This phrase creates dread for many students across the country, mainly due to the number of associations that come with it. This time of the academic year is also one that is particularly strenuous on the mental health of the students.

A recent study found that 64% of students interviewed said that they would be seeking support for their mental health, which is already a concerning percentage due to the perceived view of college being the “best years of your life” many may find them the hardest.

Although natural when studying, stress can be very harmful for students in worse cases. Typical symptoms like weight loss/gain, loss of sleep and an increased heart rate all can have damaging effects on students in the long term.

The causes of this stress may not solely be down to the academic pressure students face, but other factors added to this may have students feeling as though their head may explode at any given point.

“There seems to be a lot of stress associated with final papers, meeting deadlines, students seem to be very stressed out, even the more organized ones,” said SUNY Brockport professor of sociology Jason Dauenhauer.

“It’s hard to say what the major cause of stress is, I like to think that it’s just academics but a lot of our students have family stuff going on, they work full time, I don’t think its the academics that causes the stress,” Dauenhauer said.

But finals week appears to many as the hardest part of the semester, with their most important exams and deadlines just over the horizon. Latiq Pratt is a senior student at SUNY Brockport, and he detailed his thoughts about finals,

“My finals are a little bit relieving because it’s great to feel like I’m done but at the same time it feels very stressful to know that I have to get these things perfect,” Pratt said.

Latiq Pratt studies for the many finals he has coming up. Photo by Miles Monaghan

“Over the years of my schooling I have definitely learned that it’s only a test and I’m only going to do as well as I think I would. It’s one of those situations where I can’t really do much about it,” Pratt said.

The weight of end of semester exams seems to weigh heavily over students, lingering feelings of being overwhelmed become more prominent closer to the end of the semester, anxiety levels rise exponentially in addition to the sense of dread that they will have to sit a difficult exam or meet a deadline for a tough piece of work.

With this increase in their mental health being negatively affected, students should and will look for places that offer breaks from their busy schedule to relax and escape what they will feel is constant pressure in their life in that moment.

SUNY Brockport often have therapy dogs attend multiple residence halls so students can quite literally “pet their stress away”. And this method has seemed to have an effectiveness with students reporting in a study that they do feel less stress after interacting with a therapy dog and this relief lasting for up to 10 hours.

Therapy dogs are one way in which students can relieve stress during finals week. Photo provided by Wikimedia Commons

Other practices students can use to manage their stress for finals may be visiting their campus health center if available, such as the Hazen Health center at SUNY Brockport, in which students can get in touch with counsellors to discuss these feelings.

Students across the country will always naturally feel stress when finals week arrives. However, it appears as though more students find it more difficult to cope with this increased workload and added pressure. Therefore, there must be methods in which these feelings can be dealt with and not be allowed to take over.



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