Updated: Dec 14, 2020
It’s that time of the semester: finals season. Students are busy studying for final exams and finishing final papers, projects and presentations.
However, this year’s final exams are likely to be far different than usual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While the continuation of classes and final exams may contribute to a sense of normalcy, college students are also facing some extra challenges with their finals this year.
For one, many students are struggling with the negative impact of the pandemic, especially regarding mental health and social life.
For instance, according to the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased anxiety, depression, loneliness and stress “among many Americans, including college students.”
Additionally, due to the pandemic, many students have chosen not to see friends and family in person as often as they normally would.
While a student’s mental health and social life do not always have a direct impact on their academic performance, these are challenges students face in addition to their normal workload.
This isn’t to say that professors shouldn’t withhold finals. Rather, it is suggesting they be understanding toward students since a lot of them are struggling with their mental health or with increased isolation and loneliness.
Additionally, with many courses being taught remotely (synchronous) or online (asynchronous), numerous final exams will also be online.
While this provides the added convenience of being able to take an exam from your dorm room, off-campus apartment or even at home, having a final exam online can make it harder to contact your professor should you need help.
Another issue that raises is a concern is the separation and balance between school and home life.
Many students will be taking finals from home, whether that’s with their family, or in a dorm or apartment. Thus, when completing assignments at home, students may have difficulty separating their school time from relaxation time.
Before the pandemic, this wasn’t as big of an issue for most students, as they could go to school during the day, or perhaps in the evening, and then return home to relax.
If they wanted to complete homework at a place other than home, they could easily go to the library without worrying about catching COVID-19.
Additionally, while students who live on or near campus can visit the library, this helpful resource is unavailable for students who are taking classes while living at home with their families.
Speaking of the library, that’s another resource that students won’t be able to use in a way they used to. In the past, the Guerrieri Academic Commons has been open 24/7 for finals. However, this will not be the case this semester, as less students than usual are visiting the library as a result of the pandemic.
This pandemic has created multiple problems making it harder for students to focus on finals.
As stated, the variety of challenges include, but are not limited to: a lack of social interaction, negative impacts on mental health, difficulty contacting professors, separating home life and school life and the reduced availability of the library.
If you’re struggling to prepare for finals, know that you are not alone. We are living through an unusual and stressful time. Take a deep breath, give yourself breaks when you need to and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Good luck on your final exams!
By ALLISON GUY
Featured photo by Summer Shaper.