Just hearing the words “exam cram” can be enough to stress out college students. At Grand Valley State University, students scramble to write papers, finish projects and study for tests during the last two weeks of the semester, which creates a lot of pressure.
“I don’t think students always realize the importance of taking a break,” said Juanita Davis, assistant director at the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). “Sometimes they get so focused on everything they need to do.”
With this in mind, the OMA is hosting exam cram relaxation, a week-and-a-half-long program to help students combat finals fatigue. All of the activities are free and open to everyone.
“The goal is for all students to be able to utilize our space,” said Adriana Almanza, another assistant director at the OMA. “We have a little bit of everything for everyone.”
The event started Wednesday, Dec. 6, with salon appointments courtesy of the Empire Beauty School. A total of 40 slots were available from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., so those who signed up went to Empire Beauty School in Standale and received either a free manicure with a hand massage or a free hairstyling.
Almanza said coordinating with this local business was mutually beneficial since Empire Beauty School students could gain clinical experience and GVSU students could easily access the location due to its close proximity to both Allendale and Pew campuses.
The OMA also partnered with Campus Recreation as part of their collaborative effort. From 10 a.m. to noon, more than 20 students were given free chair massages on a first-come, first-served basis.
Moving forward, people can still participate in a variety of smaller activities to help themselves unwind. The activities were introduced Friday, Dec. 8, and will continue from Monday, Dec. 11, to Friday, Dec. 15, in Room 1240 of the Kirkhof Center.
The office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., during which time there will be ongoing games, movies, crafts, coloring and snacks. Students can come in and play cards, Monopoly, Taboo, Jenga and more. There is also a TV mounted on the wall, so students can stay in the main room to eat and watch videos on DVD, cable, Netflix or YouTube.
These pastimes give visitors the opportunity to cope with stress by encouraging them to take a break and socialize with others. Overall, the atmosphere is open, which makes exam cram relaxation with the OMA fairly different from other finals week programs.
“Grand Valley as a whole does an amazing job in providing support to different students and their needs,” Davis said. “Yet, one of the things that is unique, I feel, to our (exam cram event) is that it is not a quiet zone.”
Davis said there tend to be two types of studiers: Those who do not want background noise and those who do. Because of this, the OMA is willing to manage sound level based on student preference but is not regularly enforcing strict silence.
Furthermore, GVSU students are more than welcome to take advantage of the OMA’s services while they are there for exam cram relaxation. The OMA offers cultural programming for GVSU, but office staff also provides advising sessions about scheduling, searching for jobs and internships, obtaining financial aid, and building resumes.
“It’s a chance for our students to refocus their energy and destress their minds and really prepare for finals week,” Almanza said. “It gives them the opportunity to clear themselves mentally, emotionally and physically in a lot of different ways.”