Stress is physical; it is not just in your head. Under the right pressures, hearts pound, muscles tighten and blood pressure soars. The body cannot distinguish between psychological and physical stress—just about anything will let loose the floodgates of adrenaline and cortisol.
So three tests, two papers, a huge presentation and a completed portfolio. All of it due by Friday. Yeah, that will have an effect.
If that kind of workload sounds familiar, then you are not alone. That hits a little close to home for all of us right now. In fact, listen closely and you can hear the cries of every Oswego State student clamoring to finish his or her seemingly immovable mountain of end-of-semester work.
It’s one of the characteristics of the last two weeks of any college semester—the scramble to the finish line. Although it may seem like only your shoelaces are tied, it’s important to understand that we’re all in the same race. Sometimes you find yourself playing the game when you talk to your friends, each trying to convince the others that he or she has the most tortuous deadlines. Of course, you all should be working on papers instead.
But before we launch into a litany of one-thousand and one complaints about how many assignments are left to do and how unfair it all is, we should remember that we are actually the lucky ones.
When we enter college, education (homework, term papers and all) becomes our job. The work we do here could open the door to numerous opportunities and potentially raise our lifetime articles by hundreds of thousands of dollars—and we get summers off. So we are given a choice: potentially tedious toil at unskilled labor, with little job security, for possibly the rest of our nasty, brutish and short lives, or something more. All this end-of-semester stress is just part of the investment.
Compared to the real world, the consequences of losing this semester-crunch race can mean, at most, losing a letter grade or a few credits. Maybe that term paper ends up being five pages, even though the requirement is eight, or maybe a couple online quizzes get skipped. The world will probably not end.
However, that is not the case for those who enjoy full-time employment. For the workforce, not getting a paper done can mean losing a job—good luck finding another one in this economy. Not having a job might mean not being able to pay the bills, and worse, maybe having to move back in with mom and dad. So yes, your 8 a.m. finals are a killer, but that’s what time most people are getting up every day.
There are probably many workers who would give up the 9-to-5 grind in a heartbeat to get even a slice of what we have. Oswego State’s cap on courses is 17 credit hours, meaning that most of us are in class for less than 20 hours a week, some of us for as few as 12 hours. In reality, that’s a pretty easy pace. Even if it all gets more hectic at the end, the big picture tells us it is hardly anything to complain about.
So sure, there many be a ton of stress pressing down in the next week or two, and it might even feel like you are alone in this. But take a chill pill, count to 10 and take a few breaths. Your being here means it is obviously better than the alternative in your decision-making. Go to a yoga class, take an aspirin for that migraine, or make another pot of coffee. Do whatever you need to in order to get through it. Then drop it. You know we will probably be in the same boat next year.