The Rapidian

Grand Rapids college students share ways to deal with stress and form good study habits

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It's final exams week, and everyone is feeling crunched.

Amanda Clark, a senior student at Grand Valley State University, said, “I have a capstone presentation that’s due tomorrow and my capstone project due the day of the final. I have self-assessments to do for two classes. A take-home exam, research poster to do, follow-up paperwork.”

Most students feel that when it comes to finals, it is all about time management and staying organized. Clark gets stressed because school makes it difficult to keep a job, be a resident assistant and maintain a social life.

Linda Stevens, a chemistry professor at Grand Valley, believes students need to practice good studying habits, not cram or study last-minute and they should start studying early on in the semester. “Studying patterns have to change from high school to college,” she said.

More students show up to Stevens' class and visit her office during the two weeks before finals. They want to know the exact grade they have and what it will take on the final exam to make the grade they want.

Some professors believe it is their responsibility to make sure students do well on final exams. Melba Vélez, a communications professor at Grand Valley, said, “All my students pay the same amount of money to learn the material and are gifted and motivated to learn. I am therefore obligated to do everything in my power to teach everyone in the room.”

Grand Valley tries to eliminate this stress by providing programs like the writing center, math and science tutoring, counseling, and the library. Some of Vélez's students do not turn in assignments due to lack of focus or desire to complete them. She constantly advises her students to visit the writing center because it will make writing papers easier.

Laura Chittenden, a student at Grand Rapids Community College, utilizes the school's writing lab and a math lab. Although she does not take advantage of it, one-on-one tutoring is available for students that need help. GRCC also offers short classes on reducing stress during finals and study techniques.

Twins Kristen and Karen Malloure explained that they use the library at Grand Valley but do not use other resources because they do not feel the need to use them. When Karen was trying to explain her course load, Kristen interrupted saying, “Just say you’re high stressed, Karen!”

Grand Valley student Liz Melching stays on top of her classes by spending “on the average weekday, five or six hours, and weekends like eight, maybe 10 hours” a day in the library during finals. Liz is stressed because this does not leave time for relaxation.

Elisa Rudd, an intern for the counseling department at Grand Valley, advises that the first step is to recognize the stress and then to address it. Rudd talked about the wellness program, which teaches students relaxation techniques and the study skills programs that help students develop good study habits.

Rudd also recommends that students write in a journal, listen to calm music, or take a bath, saying that students should avoid caffeine and foods filled with sugar. These foods keep the heart rate up, which keeps the body in a crisis state.

Raymond Yeow, a junior at Grand Valley, goes to the basketball courts at the rec center as a way to reduce stress. When it comes to stress management, Yeow said, “The university can’t accommodate and reduce the stress level of everybody, understanding that each student is different and each professor is gonna teach differently.”

Many of the students and professors interviewed mentioned aspects of a healthy lifestyle as part of stress management. Rudd urges students to recognize stress as a part of life. The university is at fault if students are not well prepared with the correct materials, but it is the student’s fault when he or she does not utilize all that the university has to offer.

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 things i wish i would have done differently in college : 

actually listened to my professors, spent my excess loan money on books and art supplies instead of drugs and booze, not become a raging alcoholic, read things that i actually did manage to buy, drank less caffeine, ate more raw vegetables, and actually listened to my professors.

 during finals i was always so stressed and drank even more than i did normally.  so many of my professors and friends tried to reach out, and i just didn't give a damn.

kids get so stressed and more often than not it's only because they aren't treating themselves right. go to bed on time. get up early and keep reading. don't chain smoke when you have a break. drink more water and take deep breaths. 

you read cheesy posts about : HOW TO SURVIVE FINALS WEEK : but it's really simple. just be good to yourself. don't take 18 credits if it's going to drive you to treat yourself poorly.

this article really stirred me. in a good way. a great start to an important conversation and time of reflection for myself and many others during their first semester out of college.