As we navigate the emotional burden of post-election exhaustion, the ongoing global pandemic and the seemingly endless hurdles of midterms, the anticipation of finals season is enough to send any college student into a state of intense stress and worry. While enduring 15 monotonous weeks of Zoom classes only to have to go through another round of online exams is less than ideal, check out the following tips to help best position you for success as the end of the semester quickly approaches.
Utilize On-Campus Study Spaces
While the accessibility and versatility of campus libraries like O’Neill and Bapst have made them prime study spots for decades, limited hours and seating due to COVID-19 protocol have forced many students to resort to alternative locations. For students looking to venture out from their dorm rooms during the weekend, empty classrooms in Stokes or residence hall lounges are great spots for independent or socially-distant group work, while the benches near O’Neill plaza and Gasson Quad function as refreshing outdoor workspaces to enjoy the nice weather. You can find out more about additional study spaces across campus or conveniently sign up to reserve a space here.
Form Study Groups
The benefit of having multiple in-person classes seems to be a rare luxury awarded to a small number of BC students, as the vast majority of people are predominantly enrolled in online or hybrid classes. The flexibility offered by online, asynchronous classes can be extremely convenient for lecture-heavy or large core classes, but poses a significant challenge for students in small discussion or seminar-based classes. For those looking to simulate a personal classroom dynamic in a virtual setting, reaching out to your professor for help in setting up a student-led study group is a great way to connect with your fellow classmates. In classes where the course content is particularly difficult, online peer collaboration provides an opportunity to share study strategies as well as creates a much-needed sense of camaraderie.
Set a Daily Schedule
While the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many of us to embrace a “take this day-by-day” mentality, studies have shown the importance of a consistent daily routine and long-term planning on both your academic success and personal well-being. During a time when we can do everything from classes to club meetings and without ever leaving our dorm rooms, popular apps like Google Calendar or traditional planners are great tools to establish a much needed structure to an otherwise monotonous stream of online work. Allocating blocks of time for uninterrupted studying, exercising, and relaxation allows for a healthy balance of schoolwork and self-care to avoid the dreaded academic burnout. But while sticking to a highly organized schedule can be personally rewarding, it’s also important to forgive yourself if your day did not go exactly as planned––especially in the highly unpredictable world we are currently living in.
Safely Connect with Others
The challenge of being both physically and emotionally separated from others is certainly not something to be taken lightly. For many people, the limited ability to connect with friends and family represents the loss of a necessary outlet to release stress, leading to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation. While there is no substitute for normal, in-person interaction, identifying those who are close to you that you can trust or lean on for emotional support, whether that be your roommates, friends from home, or a mental health counselor, can provide some relief. For students fortunate enough to be living on or near campus, it’s important to periodically check-in with those completing online classes from home who are not as directly connected to the BC community and the network of support available.
After 8 long months of isolation and social distancing, it is important now more than ever before to validate our own emotional struggles while actively sustaining healthy habits to ground ourselves during this time of high stress and uncertainty. While Thanksgiving break will provide a much needed opportunity for rest and relaxation, the long stretch of second semester due to the absence of spring break will require students to take steps to take care of themselves in order to prevent academic burnout. Online and virtual resources, while they will never be a perfect substitute for traditional in-person connection, can be helpful alternatives for those looking to learn about strategies for balancing life’s challenges against the backdrop of COVID-19 or to engage with others about common difficulties in safe community spaces.
To learn more about the specific mental health programs and services specifically available to BC students, please visit the University Counseling Services webpage or check out The Office of Health Promotion.