Students and the middle of the semester slump


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Clémence Daniere, Staff Writer

According to the American Psychological Association, 87% of Gen Z students in college are experiencing high levels of stress due to their education during the 2020 school year. 

This psychological stress is eventually bound to turn into academic burnout, which is a phenomenon that affects a high amount of students. This feeling is usually associated with the middle of the semester slump, right around the time when midterm exams occur in most universities and colleges. 

The Counseling Center at Grand Valley State University has seen year after year how this uptick has impacted students. There is a surge in student outreach from around October until Thanksgiving when students tend to seek help for different factors in their lives. 

Brian Bossick, the Assistant Director of Career Development Services noted that students’ counseling needs usually fall into some general categories.

“You do see an intensification in the symptoms in anxiety,” Bossick said. “Depression, and relationship issues. Along with academic stress, career stress and major just overall stress.”

These increases in anxiety and depression are also described as being intertwined with factors such as friendships and families. 

“(I feel) definitely more stressed around the middle of the semester with midterms and social events that typically occur during this time,” said Cole Hammock, a Junior at GVSU. 

With regular courses and midterm exams on top of plenty of family activities such as Thanksgiving and the general holiday season coming up, he explained that it was easy to let it all get to be too much at once. 

The Counseling Center staff has equipped themselves to help students who are dealing with similar issues, as well as plenty of others. Students who are struggling with general stress and are worried about it being a bigger issue are encouraged to partake in the anxiety and depression screening going on at the moment. This will help students differentiate their feelings and explore what kind of stress they themselves are dealing with. 

“It’s a quick and easy way to get a screening and say, ‘Hey, maybe I do need to talk to someone,'” Bossick said. “If students are wondering, just jump online and take a self-screener, or even stop by the office.”

Although the middle of the semester slump is a very real thing year after year, there are some practices that the counseling center advises students to look into. 

The main idea is for students to manage their time and if they are taking extra time out of their day to study and focus on school, to ask themselves: “Where is the time taken away from when I need more to study?”

Bossick explained that it is common for students to pull an all-nighter at times, but after a few days, or even weeks, this can turn into a spiral with no time leftover to do activities that were previously priorities.

“Be mindful of time, and the allocation of certain periods of time,” Bossick said. 

This is a topic that Rachel McFall, a sophomore at GVSU, can heavily relate to. She explained that she was so overwhelmed last year with school that this year she lessened her credit hours, but still feels the pressure at this time of the year. 

“My high standards for myself mean that I’m usually a wreck at this point,” McFall said. “I usually end up taking a series of ‘lazy weeks’ halfway through the year where I do the absolute minimum and try to revive myself.”

This feeling that students know all too well can luckily be helped by a plethora of resources either online or on campus. 

The American Psychological Association recommends practicing the rule of “Three Good Things,” which is an exercise in which a person reflects on three good things that happened during the day, no matter how small or big it was. This helps the person keep in touch with themselves and has proven to lower levels of anxiety and depression among those practicing. 

The counseling center also has online spaces dedicated to meditation, video workshops, and other resources which are available to students at any time. If mindfulness and self-reflection is not your way to go, the counseling center offers one-on-one therapy sessions, group sessions, and even skill-based groups that help build a student’s toolkit for life. 

For more information, access the website or follow @gvcounseling on Instagram.