Every chair on the Lower Level 2 of Bobst Library yesterday, was occupied by a student hunched over their laptops with eyes fixated on their screens and fingers glued to their keyboards. Every study room was booked and every outlet was in use.
Papers were sprawled across the floor as students sat on the sides of the hallway, barely making room for passersby. Some study groups were even assembling on the couches of the main lobby. This was not just a snapshot of a day in Bobst Library—this is Bobst Library 24-7. It’s finals season.
“It’s been a time of suffering,” Zahra Watson, a second-year Marketing major, said.
Watson, like many other students at New York University, are beyond stressed about their finals, sacrificing their physical health for a letter grade. Some stay at the library until 3 a.m., or keep working until they go to their 8 a.m. class the next morning.
“I haven’t slept in the past couple of days,” Watson said. “I’ve been living off of Red Bull and Starbucks.”
According to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, college students are more likely to have erratic sleep schedules, poor quality sleep and are highly at risk for major mood and substance abuse disorders. But sleep is not the only thing college students miss out on during this stressful time of year.
“I forget to eat… a lot,” Noah Kim, 20, said. “I’m always so into my projects and always thinking about ideas.”
Kim, a film major at Tisch, has been stressing about thinking of ideas for his final film project. According to Kim, most students at NYU don’t believe that Tisch kids have finals, but Tisch final projects are just as, or even more than, stressful as finals at other schools.
“This final project shows everything that you’ve learned throughout the semester and how much you’ve improved,” Kim said. “I just feel stressed and sick.”
Others feel as if finals season is affecting their entire wellbeing beyond their sleep schedule.
“I would label myself as an active person, but during finals season, my body cannot recover the same way,” Nicholas Tong, a student on the pre-med track, said. “I’m lethargic.”
While the immense stress of finals season may simply be a rite of passage in college, high stress levels for a prolonged period of time can cause poor cardiovascular health and lowered immunity, according to the Vaden Health Center at Stanford University. Some students believe that professors can take measures to ameliorate the pressure on the general health of the student body.
“Perhaps professors should space out the tests even more, but I can imagine that navigating those logistics would be pretty hard,” Tong said.
But coping with the madness of finals season is not a lost cause. Some students are taking measures into their own hands to destress.
“I don’t stress as much because I realize one bad grade won’t kill you,” Sally Wu, a freshman at Gallatin, said. “I also take lots of naps.”
When final exams and paper deadlines are quickly creeping around the corner, it can be difficult to balance academic effort with physical wellbeing. According to USA Today, experts recommend some helpful tips such as reaching out to counselors, communicating with professors, and of course, an adequate amount of sleep.
“We often look at mind and body as two different things,” Tong said. “But it’s actually one thing. if we take care of our bodies, we take care of our minds.”