Study advice helps ease end-of-semester blues

By Riley Roberts

The weather is turning colder, holiday decorations are starting to go up all over campus and snowflakes have already fallen on the University. For students, this can mean one thing: final exams are just around the corner.

For many, it seems that the semester’s lowest temperatures bring the highest levels of stress. According to TheSemester.com, a Web site that aims to help college students “get through the semester alive,” students should not wait until the week preceding finals to begin studying.

Instead, they should prepare for each class during the semester by reviewing material from the previous class. This way, students never have to cram for a test because they are already on top of things.

Not every student may be disciplined enough for such an approach, though. So for those who are stressing out about finals this week, McKinley Health Center has a lot to offer in terms of alleviating test anxiety.

“At the end of each semester, we prepare a number of stress relief packs,” said Jennifer Carson, stress management coordinator and wellness promotion specialist. These packs contain snacks and stress management tips, and are available to students at McKinley’s Health Resource Center at the Illini Union and in the Undergraduate Library. “We want to help students get through finals successfully.”

In addition, the Oasis, a facility managed by McKinley and located in the basement of the Union, provides students with an escape from their rigorous schedules by offering special relaxation treatments. One of the most unique services they offer is located in the “Relaxation Room.”

“It’s a 20-minute audiovisual guided imagery program, offered every half hour,” Carson explained. “And it’s free to students. It’s a new service, and it’s very cutting edge … we don’t know of any other University that offers something like this.”

Several other colleges have contacted McKinley representatives and expressed interest in developing such a program, but the University is really laying the foundation, Carson said.

Apart from the myriad Web sites that purport to offer study advice, perhaps one of the most effective ways to acquire tips during final exams is to make an appointment with a McKinley stress management coordinator like Carson.

“Advice always has to be very individualized,” she said. “But time management is often something I see students about. You should be realistic and reasonable about the amount of time you devote to studying for each class.”

While attempting to study, Carson said, students must recognize that successful absorption of material does not just mean “putting in the hours.”

“To be effective, you need to try and break up the monotony of studying – not only with breaks, but also other types of activities,” she said. Switching between reading and writing, for instance, is a good way to avoid getting burned out too quickly. “If you don’t, you’ll be drained and unmotivated. Variety can help you stay focused.”

“We encourage everyone to take advantage of all the services we have to offer,” Carson said. “Good luck with all your exams!”