The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Tips to avoid finals panic

3 min read
It is a truth universally acknowledged that finals week induces college students to panic, deprives them or sleep and causes spontaneous eruption into tears in the middle of the library.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that finals week induces college students to panic, deprives them or sleep and causes spontaneous eruption into tears in the middle of the library.

We have all felt like this, and no matter how much time we spend studying, there is always that sense of dread that failing one test will spell doom for the rest of our lives.

Professors attempt to ease our minds by reminding us that we signed up for this when we first applied to college. Parents attempt to comfort hysterical sons and daughters by pointing out the obvious: everyone around them is experiencing the same emotional downturn. However, what if a student does not find solace in these words? What if a student’s confidence cannot be restored? Type “ways to manage finals stress in college” into Google, and within 0.46 seconds, 1.15 million results appear. Several of the top results include lists of coping mechanisms compiled by colleges and universities. Postings from Dartmouth College and Champlain College can be found on the first page of results. Even U.S. News and World Report tasked writer Kelci Lynn Lucier in 2011 with compiling a list of “5 Ways College Students Can Prepare for Finals,” and she wrote that “mentally checking out” is an acceptable means of relieving stress during finals week.

However, if not even an Ivy League school and a reputable news magazine are reason enough to attempt methods to reduce finals stress, then take the advice of a mom. My mom told me that when I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I should take a step back and do something small that makes me happy. Although my mom related this piece of advice to me at a time when she was helping me cope with homesickness, I feel the same advice can be applied to finals week.

Most of the coping mechanisms advocated by the Google results are related to time management and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but they also invariably mention the need to find time to relax during finals. Taking a step back and removing oneself from a stressful situation can produce better results in the long term.

For me, mentally checking out or coping with stress means curling up with a good novel, a rather large amount of coffee flavored with Pumpkin Spice Coffeemate and reading for hours. That makes me happy.

Not everyone likes to read though; some people prefer to watch movies or go for a rejuvenating walk.

My roommate likes to take naps. The most important thing is to identify what each student, as an individual, finds comforting.

Doing what my roommate likes is not going to bring me quite the same level of comfort as doing what I like because we are different people.

It is also important to realize that professors are not the enemy. While they may be unwilling to cancel assignments or extend deadlines, many truly care about the success of their students and recognize initiative.

Positive thoughts can also go a long way in improving stressful situations.

Doomsday thoughts are only going to make one feel worse, and they certainly are not going to improve my grades, so it follows that thinking positive thoughts can improve the outlook.

If coping with the stress of finals is too much to handle alone, then one need not look further than the student sitting to the left. Everyone is going through finals at the same time and I can say from experience that a venting session with friends is a great way to relieve stress.

The University also provides students with resources for getting through the stress of finals week. Perhaps the most popular of these is the Student Activities and Engagement sponsored Stress Free Zone.

Usually hosted during finals week, the highlight of this event is always the appearance of the dogs who gladly offer slobbery kisses and warm hugs to stressful students.

There is also the free breakfast served at midnight on the Monday of finals week in Seacobeck throughout which Sodexo raffles off several prizes.

Better than the prizes that night is seeing Dean Rucker’s cheerful smile, a bastion of hope amid the sea of gloom that is finals week. 4161587680_999ee00f7c_b