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Colleges Help Students De-Stress During Finals

December 12, 2011

College student taking a study breakAs schools begin final exams, many are also focusing efforts on creative ways to help students manage stress during this hectic time.

The Courier-News in Illiniois reported that students at Elgin Community College have been able to take advantage of spa treatments, back massages, cotton candy and popcorn, tea and hot chocolate, a coloring corner and a Play-Doh table. All are available as part of a special Stress-Free Zone organized by the College Programming Board.

"Finals are next week, so we wanted to give students the chance to relax," explained Gabe Lara, board adviser, who was quoted by the Courier-News.

At Arizona Western College, therapy dogs were brought to campus the week before finals to help students relax. The dogs visited the school for two hours a day for three days, and the program was so successful that student groups are already making plans to repeat it next semester during midterms.

"I've noticed there is a national trend right now with bringing therapy pets to college campuses," noted Laura Shepherd, an adviser with Club SOTE (Seeking Opportunities Through Education), who was interviewed by the Yuma Sun. "I wanted to bring that here to Yuma to create some kind of an event that would contribute to relieving the stress that students are under during finals week."

The Washington Post reported that many other schools hold de-stressing events as well: Students at Carleton College in Minnesota gather on the first floor of their library, wear earbuds and take part in a "silent dance party." Some colleges organize meditation classes during finals. Last year, Central Michigan University students danced and threw confetti in the library, while University of Virginia students spontaneously gathered outside the library wearing funny hats.

Some institutions have used food to help calm students. The Wall Street Journal reported that the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management provides free tea and coffee, along with donuts at breakfast, pizza at lunch and fruit and cookies in the afternoon. At the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, admissions officials prepared home-cooked meals for first-year students.

"We can take one thing off their plate," explained Wendy Huber, associate director of admissions and one of the dinner's organizers, who was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, "or put something on their plate that isn't just sugar."

Students say that the de-stressing methods can really help. Adrianna Stevens, an Arizona Western College freshman, said that playing with the dogs relaxed her.

"It distracted me," she told the Yuma Sun, "and suddenly my mood changed."


Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman

Sources:

"AWC Students Relieve Finals Stress with Pet Therapy," yumasun.com, December 4, 2011, Sarah Womer

"B-School Students Fuel Up for Exam Week," online.wsj.com, December 9, 2011, Melissa Korn

"Cute Puppies, Dance Parties and Stress-Busting Ideas for Finals Season," washingtonpost.com, December 2, 2011, Jenna Johnson

"ECC Lounge a Stress-Free Zone Ahead of Final Exams," couriernews.suntimes.com, December 7, 2011, Emily McFarlan

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