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Freshmen handle stress alone



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Then-freshman Madeline Ehrlich studies for finals and works on a paper Dec. 4, 2011 in the Wells Library. Rabi Abonour Buy Photos

A combination of increasingly shorter days, cold weather and the advent of finals can often cause stress in students at the end of the semester. For freshmen making the transition from high school, the effect can be more intense than it is for older students.

However, despite resources, such as those provided by Counseling and Psychological Services, offered by IU and designed to handle stress some freshmen shy away and elect to handle exam stress on their own.

“I’ve been losing hair and smoking a lot of cigarettes,” said Betsy Snider, a freshman studying biology. “I don’t know how to cope with this kind of stress yet. I’m used to being given study guides for all my classes. I had my hand held. Now I’m learning how to study for a big test on my own without physical guides.”

Freshmen who were used to coasting through classes in high school may find themselves having a more difficult experience at IU.

“I can’t eat, and I haven’t slept in three days,” said Haley Eastwood, a freshman studying social work. “I study now. It takes preparation now, while in high school I could pass my finals pretty easily.”

Some students said they do not have time to visit a counselor or attend a workshop and would rather take unscheduled breaks on their own time.

“I’ve been going on walks to take breaks from studying, which proves to be difficult in this kind of weather,” Snider said. “I feel like I get to take a breather and refresh my brain a little bit. I don’t have the time to get up and walk to the health center to talk to someone about de-stressing and breathing techniques.”

Others force themselves to stop procrastinating while they study by setting alarms or cutting themselves off after a certain time limit.

“I’ll schedule a computer update for thirty minutes in the future so I can only watch Netflix for thirty minutes and then my computer will cut me off,” Eastwood said.

As classes begin to wrap up and the end of the semester nears, posters begin showing up around campus to remind struggling students of their two free counseling sessions with CAPS. In addition to the traditional counseling sessions, CAPS and the IU Health Center sponsor free workshops that deal with topics such as stress, sleep, self-compassion and procrastination.

Other students combat these issues in their own way because they say they do not trust CAPS.

“I’m afraid they’re actually going to charge me, that their free thing is a lie,” Eastwood said. “You only get two, so you can’t make a lot of progress in two psychological visits.”

Despite an unwillingness to make a visit herself, Snider said she thinks other students should make a dedicated appointment to meet with a counselor if they feel overwhelmed.

“People should take advantage of a therapist,” she said. “The health center has plenty of resources. I feel like I should. It’s a healthier option than smoking.”

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