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End of semester stress and its effects

Isabella Santoro

Staff Writer

The end of the semester is approaching and that adds an extra level of stress to meet deadlines and due dates. Finals are coming up and the stress of making sure you’re staying on top of your work can be overwhelming. This time of year can be extremely stressful for a student, especially because students usually have work piled on along with final exams. There are also those students who work. The holiday season, which usually starts becoming busier and more stressful around October, makes things much more difficult. Students have a harder time managing their job and the work they have to do to meet end of semester expectations.

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One of the main reasons students have extra stress around this time of year is because of worry and doubt. Self doubt can be debilitating when it comes to getting work done and getting passing grades. Around 35 percent of college students, according to a 2022 survey, have reported anxiety and 34 percent reported that their anxiety negatively affects their performance in classes. Around 4 percent said that their anxiety delayed their degree. This staggering number of students who have anxiety can explain why many students have doubts that they’ll be able to finish out the semester in a good place. Anxiety often leads to doubt and lower self-esteem, causing students to begin doubting their ability to do well. Most students get help and speak to their advisors or a therapist, but many do not and let the stress of classes take over their lives. Especially at the end of the semester when bigger projects or exams are due, students find themselves with more anxiety than at the start of the semester. After all, the United States is reportedly one of the most stressed out countries in terms of college and high school students.

Exams are easily one of the most stressful aspects, especially for students who feel like they never do well on exams or students who do not feel that they are prepared enough for the exam ahead. I know that when I have an exam coming up, I get so anxious I can’t think of anything else and it affects me physically and emotionally. The pressure is on for students to perform well on exams and this can be very hard for those who do not perform well on tests. Those who have ADHD for example, reportedly have a history of not doing well on exams. That’s mainly due to not being able to handle the environment around them, having to sit still and not remembering information. Those with autism experience similar symptoms. It is never easy to sit through an exam that you’re not sure you’ll pass. You may know the material, but sometimes once you’re sitting in an exam, that knowledge and all of the studying you’ve done flies out the window. I know that I personally am a bad test taker and worry myself nearly to panic attacks before an exam. It’s estimated that between 40 and 60 percent of students have test anxiety. Sometimes students will turn to cheating on exams in order to pass their courses, leading to either getting caught or feeling guilt for not being honest about their work.

All of this being said, what can be done to combat this stress during the end of the semester? One sure way to combat end of semester stress is to speak to someone who can help. RIC has plenty of people available to help out during this stressful time. Talk to your professors to see how they are able to help. That’s what they are there for. Even if you feel you have a question that you are afraid sounds dumb, or you don’t want to annoy your professor, ask anyway. It’s so much better to ask and reach out for help than to try to combat the anxiety and stress on your own if you’re not sure you can handle it.

As for exams, there are plenty of methods for studying that might help you out during this time. One of the best ways to start is by finding someone in your class that you’d want to study with. Striding with someone is shown to improve the knowledge you have of whatever subject you’re studying. Studies show that you retain information better in a group than by yourself. It may not be easy to reach out to your classmates, especially if you don’t know them, but it’s worth giving a try. Another way to combat the stress and to start studying better is to limit distractions, such as social media. Give yourself a screen limit on your smartphone and make sure you stick to it. If music helps you out, find songs that are not distracting to the process, and if you don’t understand the material, reach out to someone who does. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in extra stressful times.


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