Checking in On Finals-Season Stress

As bells and carols start to toll this December, you may also recognize another familiar winter sound, the quiet groaning of college and graduate students during finals. With finals season now ending for college and post-secondary students across the country, we checked in with a graduating Senior from University of Maryland to ask about finals, stress, and getting help from friends and family.

Chrysalis Borja is graduating from the University of Maryland this December.

Chrysalis Borja is graduating from the University of Maryland this December.

Q: What advice to you have for people who may be struggling to deal with finals stress?

CB: I think stress can be handled in many ways but it can also be manipulated to your advantage. If you find yourself having a busy semester schedule, don’t rule out the activities you love to do. If you want to do something, you can make time. The busier you are, the more pressure there is for you to get your work down. If you pack your schedule with as many activities and not lose contact with your friends, any stress (even finals) can be conquered.

It’s all about perspective, yes I am more stressed out than usual but multi-tasking work and extracurricular activities helped me learn how to manage my time and I’ve learned that if I triage what subjects need the most attention and ensure that my easy subjects are A+’s then finals can be cake for anyone.

I think stress can be handled in many ways but it can also be manipulated to your advantage. If you find yourself having a busy semester schedule, don’t rule out the activities you love to do. If you want to do something, you can make time. The busier you are, the more pressure there is for you to get your work down. If you pack your schedule with as many activities and not lose contact with your friends, any stress (even finals) can be conquered.

Q: Do your friends and family understand the pressures on you to get everything done on time? How could they be helpful in supporting you?

CB: I am fortunate to have friends and family that understand the pressures that get to me most. I am beyond lucky to have people who know how I function. I am definitely the type of student who has to have everything done ahead of time. If I find myself writing a twenty-three-page paper at 3AM, I’ll probably start crying because I haven’t studied for an exam that same day. Another experience was preparing for a presentation in cell biology lab where our topic was on the effects of a drug on HL60 cells that would ultimately be used for future studies in cancer research by professors at the University of Maryland. I was about to cry but luckily one of my lab mates who happened to be an old friend from pre-calculus just gave me a hug and handed me chocolate. It was a blessing.

As for my family, I cannot even begin how awesome they’ve been all throughout college. My parents all gave me advice that never steered me wrong and my two younger sisters who are much smarter than me would nag me to buckle down and hit the books. They made sure senioritis would not get the best of me.

Q: Did you feel particularly stressed out this season?

CB: In retrospect, I would say this is probably my least stressful finals season in comparison to my previous semesters filled with physics, chemistry and biology. My fall semester of my freshman year was still the easiest course load but being away from home and making new friends are what made it a more difficult semester than others. Like all the other freshmen, I did not know anything about the campus but I was learning every day through experience and luckily I can laugh at myself as senior.

Sophomore and junior year were definitely the most stressful years out of my entire college academic experience because I never strategically planned a doable schedule. There was one semester where I took three labs, biochemistry and mammalian physiology (most difficult course in my major). This year, my courses still require some study time but after enduring the gruesome all-nighters I feel that I’ve been through it all and one more semester of finals is honestly not a big deal…just don’t fail!

 Featured Photo by:See-ming Lee

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