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How to Handle Midterms and Stress

By Alecia Sexton
Staff Writer

According to my Critical Health Issues class, stress is defined as “The nonspecific response of the body to any demands made upon it”… how much more general of a definition can we get!? The “nonspecific response” to “any demands”? That sure encompasses a lot of things and aspects of our lives. We all know that stress, unless it’s a positive stress like being surprised on your birthday or getting into a new relationship, is bad and can lead to undesirable emotional and physical symptoms.

With that said, it’s important to point out that there’s a large and underrecognized dimension of stress that primarily afflicts school goers, college students in particular due to increased financial and time burdens- EXAMS! Midterms, finals, pop quizzes, all of these things often send a jolt of panic through our bodies. “Did I study enough?”, “Dang, I remember reading SOMETHING about this…”, “Why don’t I have a photographic memory?!” Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone, and hopefully the information in this article can help both of us shape up, organize ourselves and time, and dodge unnecessary stress.

First off, we should think about why we’re stressed and what’s at the center of our daily irritations. Based on interactions with my classmates and by my own life, in college, stress is often driven by being unprepared. Whether it’s for a class, a test, or for practice, being unprepared seems to be a common denominator. Students are often unprepared because of a lack of time. Time is tricky, and a big issue comes into play when there are two things we have to do at the same time, like work and study for an exam. It’s no secret that money is hard to make and easy to spend, but when it comes to college, we all seem to be in a jam.

Christopher Haynes a junior who works 30+ hours per week at two jobs, is enrolled in a full time schedule, and maintains above a 3.0 GPA. I asked him what his secret was to managing his time so that he doesn’t feel overwhelmed with work and studying, he says that he “studies in chunks throughout the week, usually in 15-20 minute intervals, that way it doesn’t take away too much time at once and by exam day [he] would have studied a good hour to hour and a half and [is] feeling prepared.” He says however, that “it’s important to take good notes in class and be totally engaged so that what is being taught sinks in, but take the notes by hand, that way you’re kind of learning it again.”

You may be wondering “what about other responsibilities and free time? Sure it’s easy to juggle work and school, but there’s a lot more going on than that in life.” That’s what I thought too, which is why I asked Haynes how he fares with free time and if he ever feels overwhelmed. “Sure, I get overwhelmed with the planning and scheduling of it all. It’s hard to have something you want to do but can’t. But when it comes down to it, we have to make time. Like every other Tuesday I go into Queens with my family to visit my brother…I try to see my girlfriend 3-4 times per week. These things are important to me, so I find time. The last thing I need with a busy and sometimes stressful schedule is to feel like I’m not maintaining healthy relationships.”

I think we can all try to implement these small changes in our busy schedules. Study piecemeal throughout the week like on breaks at work and even in the car when carpooling with someone. Try to take notes by hand to get some extra brain power going on in class, too. And if both of these aren’t enough to prepare you more and take away some pressure, try to readjust your work schedule or reach out to campus services like the Learning Support Center and Academic Workshops often held in Hillwood Commons.

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