The Oak Leaf

Finals stress takes its toll on students

Kate Tornai, Contributing Writer

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Dakota McGranahan
Inside Bertollini Hall Jenna Bozzetto, 20, crams for her Soc 30 final next week. “It feels like a few weeks worth of material packed into a few days of completion,” Bozzetto said in regards to pre-finals stress. “I’ve gotten a lot less sleep, and between the sleep deprivation, studying and working I’ve had anxiety and it’s changed my mood.”

Santa Rosa Junior College student Jessica Mendoza has too much to do and too little time.

Between working 36 hours a week at a restaurant in Rohnert Park, taking nine units at SRJC and making time for friends and family, Mendoza says reading textbooks can sometimes fall by the wayside.

“Setting aside time to study is hard sometimes due to work and other commitments I may have,” the 23-year-old college student said. “But the reason why I truly stress myself is because I don’t make that time to study, and then I stress myself at the last minute because I’m scared of not passing the class.”

Mendoza is not the only student scared of failing an exam. And with finals approaching, stress on campus is on the rise. 

According to their 2008 study, the American Institute of Stress reported eight in 10 college students frequently experienced stress in their daily lives, an increase of 20 percent from a survey done five years prior. A more recent study from Harvard Medical School found that one in five students surveyed reported thoughts of suicide in the last year.

The Harvard study included students from more than 67,000 colleges and 100 institutions and found that “while racial or ethnic and sexual or gender minorities are especially vulnerable, high rates for stress events, mental health diagnoses and the risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts were reported among all students surveyed.”

Nathan Jarrell, a 28-year-old SRJC student who works for a local winery, said he is affected not only by school stress but a heavy workload as well.

“I have high stress at work and school,” Jarrell said. “The rush of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s-related orders means that I don’t really get any sort of reprieve.”

And for those who’ve missed class, catching up adds even more stress to finals preparation. Evan Nazarov, 20, is one such student.

“I missed five chapters of the beginning of the week because I was gone, and I have to go back and catch up on those as well as the chapters leading up to the final, and then the final itself,” Nazarov said. And that’s just for one class.

Sarah Roberts has to prepare for questions on which she might not even be tested, in addition to working full time. 

Dakota McGranahan
At the Student Services desk, Student Ambassadors Jesse Pagulayan, 19 (left) and Anna Kidd, 21, (right) assist students filtering in throughout the day, in between finishing their final assignments of the semester. “It’s usually very lively in here, but by the end of the semester no one wants to be on campus because of the stress,” Kidd said. “I overhear conversations between students on campus and all they’re talking about are grades, finals and tests, you can see the stress on their faces.”

“I just checked my history final and realized that I have to prep for three different questions, and I won’t know which essay question to respond to so I have to write three different essays basically,” the 18-year-old Roberts said. “Plus I have a seven-page research paper due for my English class and calculus to study for.”

Sabrina McGowen, 20, also feels the pressure of working and going to school full time. She cites the sheer amount of homework leading up to finals as a stressor.

“I knew with work when I have essays to do I get more stressed out,” McGowen said.

For those who find themselves under too much pressure, SRJC’s Student Psychological Services offers drop-in counseling appointments at 2 p.m Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. Friday on the Santa Rosa campus and at 2 p.m. Fridays on the Petaluma campus. Check in is half an hour before.

Last year, the American Psychological Association reported a 30 percent increase in the number of students seeking counseling appointments at colleges and universities between 2010 and 2015. According to the survey, 61 percent of college students reported anxiety; other concerns included depression, stress, family issues, academic performance, and relationship problems.

SRJC counselor Rosemary Hart said, “All my clients that I’m currently seeing regularly are reporting an increase in stress due to finals, assignments and it being the end of the semester.”

Hart, whose current caseload is seven clients, recommends breathing exercises, visualization, studying with friends and checking in with a teacher for those behind on assignments. She helps her clients plan when to set time aside for certain assignments, but overall recommends breathing activities to de-stress.

“Just venting helps,” Hart said.

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About the Photographer
Dakota McGranahan, Co-Photo Editor

Before becoming Photo Editor of the Oak Leaf in Fall 2017, Dakota was Editor-in-Chief of his high school newspaper. Mainly a photojournalist, he also writes...

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Finals stress takes its toll on students