Last month, just before the start of the overheated midterm season, Doreen Thomas (pictured below), outreach coordinator for the CCNY Wellness and Counseling Center, dropped by my 11 AM Introduction to Journalism class. She explained the facts about stress and offered practical suggestions for battling it.
Using Ms. Thomas’s information and advice, students then wrote articles about the problem they all know so well. Here are two of the best.
Adam Reyes wrote this piece, which includes lots of student interviews, a recent national study and a clever kicker. He loves travel and music and after graduation hopes to be a photo journalist.
City College Students Struggle with Stress by Adam Reyes
During midterms, Noushin Sultana, a City College junior, spent three days without sleeping due to stress and the overload of work her classes give her. “College can really take a toll on you,” says Sultana, 20.
She is not alone.
Every fall during the heat of midterm season, exams and academic work put an enormous amount of pressure on students. According to a 2009 pull conducted by the Center for the Study of College Student Retention, students say that stress is the biggest life issue that affects their studies.
Students are now finding ways of dealing with stress that can work efficiently for them. Some handle it by trying to be more organized. “I now find myself writing a checklist of the things I need to get accomplished for my classes,” says 19-year-old Steven Millan, a City College junior. “It allows me to manage my time efficiently and not worry so much.”
Others work out in order to manage anxiety. “I exercise to relieve college stress,” says Keyonna Hayes, a 21-year-old senior. “Not only do I burn calories, but I get my mind off of school as well.”
Some students use the resources available to them at the Wellness and Counseling Center. Doreen Thomas, who is an outreach coordinator at the Center, notes, “Anytime anything is affecting anyone negatively, take the step and talk to someone.”
When times get very rough, some students resort to medication. Lola Daniels, a 21-year-old City College junior admits that, “hell, yeah, college stresses me out! I take pills for stress.”
Garcia has gotten her stress under control, unlike many of her classmates. CCNY students are in the midst of the most overwhelming time of the year—midterm week–and filled with anxiety. So what has gotten Garcia so relaxed? She took advantage of a stress management workshop sponsored by CCNY’s Wellness and Counseling Center. Garcia uses the techniques now whenever she gets stressed. “It surprisingly works!” she says.
Doreen Thomas, outreach coordinator for the Wellness Center, offered some specific techniques for students to remain relaxed before taking midterms or whenever stress arises. “One relaxation strategy is deep breathing,” she explained recently, as she demonstrated the exercise to a class of journalism students. “An emotional technique is expressing yourself; feelings are energy.”
Students should also try to identify exactly what gets them stressed before their big exams and figure out ways to help decrease these factors. “We should ask ourselves what is affecting us and how?” said Thomas.
Jeffrey Williams, a 19-year-old sophomore, also attended a workshop provided by the center. When asked what triggered the most stress and how he plans to handle it, Williams said, “Having so many exams all at the same time is stressful, but I try not to think about that and study harder on the subjects I don’t feel that confident about.” He also mentioned listening to his iPod prior to taking his exams to help his mind to relax, a strategy also suggested by the Wellness Center as a relaxation technique.
Kevin Goldberg, 20, a junior, says he’s stressed and wished he had made the time to learn some of the Center’s techniques. “Right about now I could use any advice to keep me sane during midterms” he said. “And the stress only gets worse for finals.”