Suffering from mid-semester blues last fall, Caroline Hill, a senior sociology major, studies in the UMC Oct. 2, 2008. (CU Independent file/Alison Mesinger)
The rapidly approaching Thanksgiving holiday and break brings thoughts of good food, extra sleep and a break from classes to spend time with friends and family. However, the few weeks before this break provide no comfort to the many students who are suffering from the effects of the phenomena known as the mid-semester slump.
Generally every year near the beginning of November professors begin to bombard already overloaded students with extra homework, papers and exams. Students, who have not been given a break from school since Memorial Day back in the beginning of September, start to feel the toll that academics take on daily life. Thus, the slump begins.
Rachel Skorenki, a 21-year-old senior integrated physiology major, said she feels the effects of this time of year.
“Since I’m a senior, I just already want school to be over with,” Skorenki said. “I feel like I have no determination or motivation and I’m ready for winter break.”
The director of CU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, Karen Raforth, said she believes that students are more affected by the stresses of being a college student at this point of the year rather than throughout the semester because of many factors, primarily the novelty of a new year wearing off.
“In the beginning there’s this newness for everyone the promise of the semester lays out before you that’s energizing and by the middle you start to get tired [and] fatigue literally sets in,” Raforth said.
By Thanksgiving, the appeal of a new year has subsided and students begin to realize exactly how much work they have to do for the rest of the semester.
Kate Mulligan, a 21-year-old junior integrated physiology and psychology major, said she is starting to feel the effects of the slump, especially with the heavy academic load that follows from having a double major.
“It’s stressful just trying to get everything before winter break and it’s all starting to pile up now because I didn’t do as much as a should’ve earlier in the semester,” Mulligan said. “It’s really hard just making sure you’re in the right classes and trying to balance out all of the course work that needs to be done for both majors.”
While this time of year tends to leave most people dragging, students are particularly hit by fatigue because of the many extra issues that follow their academic and personal lives.
“Everyone is hit with it [the slump], but students that are hit hardest particularly are students with extra external stressors,” Raforth said.
Whether one is a transfer student, freshman transitioning into the college lifestyle, or a senior trying to prepare for the career world or graduate school, stress tends to follow.
“I think I am permanently stressed because as you get to senior level, you just have to take harder classes, and I also have to get ready for grad school,” Skorenki said.
Some external stressors include a job or being in a transition, such as a first-year student or a senior about to graduate who is not quite sure what he or she is going to do after college. On top of extracurricular activities or sports are social and family issues.
According to Raforth, students who have poor time management skills or never learned how to study in high school have an especially hard time during this time of year. She said that this is due to the fact that these students tend to have “an unrealistic view of the demand of school.” They are not used to being in a setting where there is a high level of academic competition.
Raforth also said that some of the issues that come from being overly stressed are overeating (especially junk food), under-eating, sleeping too much or too little, procrastinating even more, avoiding class or professors and excessive drinking or partying.
Raforth suggests that eating healthy, not procrastinating, getting a good amount of sleep, exercising, having a good support system, taking study breaks and studying in groups are some ways to reduce the effects of the slump.
“Each person needs to think about what has worked for them in the past and try to do more of that,” Raforth said. “Seek out support from other people—you’re not the only one who’s struggling.”
Students suggest some of their chosen methods for slump prevention.
“I study with a group of people who are in the same class as me and that helps a lot,” Skorenki said.
Ben Batten, a 23-year-old sophomore film studies major, said he prevents the slump through strict time budgeting.
“I set my schedules to have time to kind of relax, and I have my weekends to recharge,” Batten said.
The break is only two weeks away and provides a good opportunity for revitalization.
“Thanksgiving break in many ways helps,” Mulligan said. “You can refresh emotionally, get away or catch up physically, emotionally and literally.”
The CU Psychology and Counseling Services can be found in Room 134 in Willard Hall, across from the BuffOne Card Office. The staff offers free walk-in appointments from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Services include individual counseling, group counseling and group workshops.
More information can be found at the Counseling and Psychological Services Web site. Wardenburg Health Center also offers a psychological and psychiatric mental health care clinic.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Nicole Zimbelman at Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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