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Campus Life

Keeping Stress in Check

Balancing study time and leisure time can help cut down on stress during finals week.

Photo courtesy of the Office of Residence Life

It’s finals time again at BU — time to cram all night for exams and to run to your professor’s office to pass in that final paper or project before the deadline. Overall, it’s a time of pulling your hair out and dealing with the culmination of a hectic semester. But keeping stress in check is the key to finishing up on top. 

“For many students, there’s a lot riding on finals,” says Beth Grampetro, health and wellness educator for the Office of Residence Life. “In some classes, a final project or exam can count for a majority of the course grade, which makes performance especially important.”

In addition, the spring finals period has other conflicts built in, she says, with students getting ready to leave campus for the summer and seniors preparing to graduate. “With the pressure of doing well on exams plus all the impending change, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed,” she says.

It’s important to manage stress, but some degree of stress can be healthy, especially if it acts as a motivator. It becomes detrimental when it is all-consuming and uncontrollable. Students can avoid feeling overly stressed during final exam week by learning to manage their time properly, and by preparing the best they can for each of their exams.

“If you don’t take care of yourself, you could end up getting sick, which would adversely affect your performance on finals,” says Grampetro, whose office held a study break for students on May 4. “Students should allow themselves a break. Cramming for hours on end, pulling all-nighters, and not spending any time relaxing is damaging.”

To balance studying and just living life, students should make leisure time a reward for buckling down and hitting the books. For instance, if you study calculus for two hours, Grampetro suggests, reward yourself with a half-hour of television.

“Also, try not to let things like exercise and sleep slide,” she says, “because you still need them, finals or not, and you’ll feel better and perform better if you’re sleeping enough and getting some exercise,”

For students interested in tutoring before finals, the CAS Forum and the Educational Resource Center are cosponsoring Coffee @ Finals from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. through Wednesday, May 9, in CAS Room 319. Tutoring will be available in chemistry, calculus, statistics, and physics.

Meghan Noé can be reached at mdorney@bu.edu