Q&A: Counseling Services psychologist on how to best approach the stress of finals week

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(Logo by Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

Peter Loganbill, Collegian news editor: “What would be your suggestion to someone who says, ‘My grade is kind of on the edge right now. I need to do well on this final, I don’t feel prepared for this,’ and they just don’t know what to do?

Laurie Wesely, associate director of Counseling Services and licensed psychologist: “Well, I think there’s several things that person might be able to do. Maybe talking to the professor and seeing if they have any tips or ideas of what they should focus on. In general, when we’re feeling overwhelmed, I think the most helpful thing to do is to break things down into small tasks. And so it might mean focusing on what things do you feel confident that you know for that final, what things don’t you feel confident? And you’re going to spend more time studying those things.

“So, and then prioritizing, like, if this is the class that you’re struggling in the most, and you need to improve your grade and there’s other classes that you’re doing just fine — probably not going to do much studying, maybe just some reviewing for those and really focus on this one.

“I would also say what we tend to do is, ‘I don’t have time, so I cut my sleep down. I don’t eat.’ We’re not machines. So if you’re not getting, most of us need eight to nine hours of sleep, if you’re not drinking water, you’re not moving your body some throughout the day, you will not be efficient when you’re studying.

“And you’ll notice that, because you’ve like, ‘I’ve read the same line 10 times, and I don’t know what I’m reading.’ To be more efficient, realize you have to take the breaks. Most people have a concentration span of about 45 minutes. That can vary from time to time and person to person, but realize that you’re going to study in small chunks and then take short breaks — five, 10 minutes.

“And I would not engage in anything with a screen during your break because I think that actually drains our energy. So get up, take a short lap around the building where you’re studying or get some water or do the dishes, you know, something where you’re moving. You get a short break, and then you’re back into it.”

Loganbill: “What do you think, generally, are just some good study strategies?”

Wesely: “Ideally, we would get to the point of finals week where we don’t need to cram.”

Loganbill: “Study ahead of time?”

Wesely: “Yes, and I will own I didn’t really do that as a student, but one thing I would think about if I had to go back and be a student now, is thinking about if I’m not in a good place, heading into finals, maybe writing down like, what do I need to do differently next semester? Because I think sometimes what happens is we start the next semester full of hope, and, ‘This is going to be different,’ but we don’t really have a plan. And then we land right in the same place during finals week.”

The 24/7 line to Counseling Services is 785-532-6927. Interested in hearing more about the best strategies to approach the stress of finals? Check out the “Collegian Kultivate” podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.