Stress happens on both ends

Apr 212004
Authors: Gina McKay

The Daily Vidette (Illinois State U.)

(U-WIRE) NORMAL, Ill. – As it turns out, professors are not out

to get students…

It’s that time of year again. Papers need to be finished.

Presentations need to be given. Quizzes need to be taken.

The end of the semester comes with a lot of work and a lot of


As I walk around campus and talk with friends, I hear a common

complaint, “Do professors understand I have other classes I need to

get things done in?”

It seems many students believe their professors do not think

they have three or four other classes with professors requesting

just as much, if not more, work and time. And I admit, I also have

to wonder if some professors really understand this.

When they have three papers, a couple of presentations and a

quiz, students tend to go into panic mode. How will I get it all

done? Will I fail if I don’t put as much effort in? Will this

teacher give an extension? Does the teacher understand all I have

to do?

It’s a lot to handle, especially when you have other things

going on in your personal life and working a job on top of

everything. So I decided to go on a mission. I made a couple of

calls around campus to see what professors had to say for

themselves. I couldn’t talk with every department, but the ones I

did talk to were helpful.

As it turns out, professors are not out to get students — at

least not the ones I talked to and they ensured me it is the same

for most professors.

“I was in (students’) shoes once too,” accounting lecturer

Charlie Thomas said. He added he understands students have big

loads, especially the final weeks of a semester.

“I know my class doesn’t occur in a vacuum,” said Craig

McLauchlan, assistant professor of chemistry.

McLauchlan even added his department tries to work with the

biology and physics departments to avoid students having to take

tests on the same day. While it does not always work, McLauchlan

said they do what they can so students do not have more than one

difficult test on the same day.

It was somewhat shocking to hear and I hung up the phone with a

dumbfounded feeling. These “mean, scary” professors who teach

difficult classes and are out to get us actually recognize the work

load students have?

“We can’t just take you out and say ‘sink or swim,'” marketing

professor Linda Showers said. She said it is not fair when

instructors give out big assignments in the last few weeks of

classes. Professors have to structure the class in a way to help,

Showers added.

But while professors do understand more than we give them credit

for, I also learned they can be just as frustrated with students as

we get with them.

Showers said she gets frustrated when students say they are

having trouble completing projects or papers that have been on the

syllabus since the beginning of the semester and have been

discussed well in advance.

McLauchlan said he tries to set guidelines early for

assignments, but sometimes there are still those students who ask

for an extension.

Assistant professor of chemistry William Hunter said students

need to manage their time and priorities.

“That’s the same with me right now,” he said. “We are all busy.”

Showers said professors should be helping students by working

continuously with them throughout the semester, especially on big

projects. She added she does this weekly with her students through

journal entries and class discussions.

But let’s face it, there are just some of those professors who

do not explain a big project until last minute, leaving students

panicked and cursing their education.

This is where Hunter reminded me of a very valid point — “the

learning is in (students’) own hands.”

No, we cannot fix the handful of professors that give us gray

hair at a young age, but there are ways to just get through it.

One of the best things students often forget they can do is talk

with their professor(s). They will often have useful suggestions.

Here is what I learned…

“A good nights sleep and a positive attitude go along way,”

McLauchlan said. The more sleep you have, the more efficient you

will be. Take breaks often, he continued, but don’t forget there is

still going to be some hard work involved.

“Don’t swallow accounting (you can fill in your major here) in

big chunks,” Thomas said. “Don’t take big bites, but eat often.” It

is hard to get studying done when you are already stressed, he


“Work on (things]) continuously so it is not a last minute

thing,” Showers said. When it is on the syllabus, try to get things

started early. Stress happens when students cram things into the

end of the semester. Ask yourself, “do you like the way you are

feeling right now,” Hunter suggested. While it may not help you

right now, Hunter said it should teach students to help prepare for

next semester.

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