Students entering college know there will be many differences to adjust to from their high school days. Workloads, class schedules, and their own independence are all changes they are prepared to face. But many students don’t realize there are also many differences in the way tests are scheduled and administered at the college level. So when that first exam period rolls around, it can be an extremely stressful time.
Research has found that more than 85 percent of college students feel increased stress and anxiety at exam time, and that number is likely even higher during their first time around. But there are many ways parents can help their students manage exam stress, including those that not only improve their ability to perform on the tests, but also help them stay healthy in the process.
One of the first things parents can do to help their students through their first round of exams is to make sure they don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. As soon as the exam dates are determined, help them organize a schedule to stay on top of their work, and provide gentle reminders throughout the semester to make sure they don’t procrastinate.
When exam time finally arrives, shift your focus to helping your child manage the accompanying crunch-time stress. If the college or university is located nearby, meet them for regular study-break walks or for a bite to eat.
If you’re too far away for face-to-face time, send study aids to help them get as relaxed and ready as possible. Help them avoid the typical exam-time habit of too much junk food and caffeine with a package filled with healthy snacks. A classical music CD will provide a calm study atmosphere, and a yoga DVD will help them stay relaxed and composed.
For a really special treat, combine a variety of helpful items into one exam survival care package. Some campuses have programs that allow parents to order care packages for their students right on campus, without having to deal with assembling or mailing them. There are also many online companies that will create an individualized package based on your loved one’s tastes and interests. Include healthy snacks, music, stress toys, and anything else that will give them a much needed laugh. Not only do care packages deliver fun and useful items during a stressful time, they also remind students of their parents’ love and support.
Finally, be sure to remember how important love and support are to your student. Offering support is as simple as acknowledging the stress they are feeling. Help your student keep a positive attitude, and remind him or her that the first round of exams is not likely to make or break their entire college career. It will all go a long way in helping your student become as relaxed and ready as possible.