York U’s fall 2017 term is coming to a close, and by now your student is likely preparing for final exams. They have been studying for more than three months, developing expertise in their chosen field and expanding their worldview. The exam period is an opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge they have gained, but it can also be a stressful time for students. York U has prepared the following tips for parents and families to help support your student through the exam period. In this end-of-term parent and family update, you’ll find:
- Important sessional dates;
- Final exam stress management techniques;
- How to help your student stay motivated; and
- Campus safety and weather information.
Visit York University’s Parents & Family website for additional resources.
- Dec. 4: Fall Classes End
- Dec. 5: Fall Study Day (no classes; University open)
- Dec. 6 to 21: Fall examinations
- Dec. 22 to Jan. 3: Holiday break
For a complete list of all Undergraduate Fall/Winter 2017/18 Important Dates, visit the Registrar’s Office website.
Health & Wellness – Final Exam Stress Management
As December 1 arrives, exam anxiety becomes one of the most common concerns for students. A little routine exam anxiety is not a bad thing; in fact, having a sense of urgency is actually beneficial in that it alerts your body to be prepared to mobilize energy stores.” Without a sense of urgency, students wouldn’t have the motivation to meet the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. If, however, the anxiety gets too overwhelming, you should encourage your student to take some proactive steps to cope with anxiety before and during exams.
Health comes first
Often parents place emphasis on success and achieving exceptional grades, but the best advice you can offer your student is to make sure they make self-care their priority. Here are some tips you can share with your student to help them optimize their health and well-being:
- Your student should always communicate with someone close to them when they feel stressed or anxious.
- It is important that students avoid making important decisions when they are distressed or feeling overwhelmed.
- Exercise can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins and increase blood flow to your brain for improved cognition.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can worsen anxiety and depression.
Last but not the least, your student should always remember that exam stress is only temporary and will eventually pass. At one point or another, the dark clouds will give way to sunshine and perhaps even a rainbow!
Tips for getting a good night’s sleep
Sleep is the most important thing that students often forgo in order to study, complete assignments or enjoy a night out. However, the quality and quantity of sleep a student gets determines how effective they will be the next day. Sleep is also necessary for consolidating memory, diminishing stress, restoring the body’s energy supply and repairing muscles and tissues for optimal functionality. If your student is not getting at least seven hours of sleep, let them know that altering their sleep habits, schedule and day-to-day routines can have huge impact on the quality of their night’s rest. Here are some things your student can do to get a good night’s sleep.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule – Set a regular bedtime, wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends) and take 20-minute power naps to make up for lost sleep.
- Use your bed for sleep only – Your student should avoid using their sleeping space for doing work, eating or watching TV as it will be harder for them to unwind when it’s time to hit the hay.
- Naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycle – During the day, increase light exposure by spending time outside and have a well-lit workspace with sources of natural light to help your student feel awake and alert. Your student can also enhance melatonin production at night by turning off television and computer screens as well as by avoiding reading from back-lit devices such as tablets and smartphones.
- Try some relaxing bedtime routines – Before going to bed, your student can create a relaxing, noise-free environment and wind down by reading a book, listening to soft music, taking a warm bath or doing some light stretches.
- Eat well and exercise – Avoid eating heavy meals at night and limit caffeine intake in the evenings. Exercise regularly as even 20-30 minutes per day can result in a deeper and more rejuvenating night’s sleep.
York University has made WellTrack™ – an online resource for managing stress, anxiety and depression – available to students. WellTrack™ is a secure and anonymous way for users to assess their personal well-being and quickly gain access to resources tailored to meet their individual needs. Students are able to engage in self-guided therapy and interact with tools designed to help them adjust their thoughts and behaviour. The app also includes a Moodcheck tool to help build a database of people, places, and things that are positive and negative for your mental health. Other components include a Zen Zone (for meditation), a Thought Diary and Activity Scheduler. WellTrack™ is available as an app and as a website at welltrack.com.
Motivation During Exam Season
If you can’t fly, then run,
If you can’t run, then walk,
If you can’t walk, then crawl,
But whatever you do,
You have to keep moving forward.
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Your student might be starting to get homesick, lonely or frustrated with all the work that University brings. They may not have seen their friends in a while or had the chance to spend a night out free of worries. At this point, there is one thing that can get them through exams: motivation.
No, not a “coach-yelling-at-you-from-the-sidelines” kind of motivation, but an internal desire that pushes you to attain success. We absolutely cannot emphasize enough the significance that motivation plays in your student’s success. University students who lack motivation can unfortunately run into numerous social and academic difficulties, but this piece will help you avoid this by providing you with ways in which your student can stay motivated!
The first thing to recognize is that there is only one type of motivation and that is self-motivation. Family, friends or co-workers can help your student get excited to accomplish a certain task, but at the end of the day your student will have to channel their own willpower to get the job done.
Secondly, it is important for your student to establish a strong, compelling and personal “WHY” for being at university. This will give them something concrete to focus on and serve as the light at the end of the tunnel when they are feeling down. One of the best ways of staying motivated is to be surrounded by others who are motivated. Your student should establish friendships with those who are also academically motivated and willing to help them when they need inspiration. They can also find a mentor who will be available to talk when your student feels they need a fresh perspective.
Most importantly, tell your student that they should never let failure discourage them. It is vital to stay positive, celebrate successes and learn from mistakes. The biggest key to success is: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Last, but not the least, encourage your student to focus on what their future will hold if they continue to work hard and accomplish their goals. Start by first looking toward the near future for motivation, which could involve an upcoming fun weekend or a night out with friends after exams. Then, gradually increase the timeframe – one month, one year, four years (graduation!), ten years – until they have created a picture of their career path and the successful future that can serve as an excellent motivator in the present.
Weather Conditions & Safety
During the winter months in Canada, it will get darker out earlier in the day and there is an increased chance of inclement weather. For these reasons, it’s important to keep safety top of mind and to be aware of York’s various safety resources and procedures.
In the case of a weather event or an emergency on campus, York University has various methods of keeping students, faculty, staff and their families informed. Information is made available through:
- Mainstream media including television and radio
- Social media
- The York U Safety App
- York University webpage
- York University Information Line (416-736-5600)
- Emergency LCD screens placed around campus
In weather or emergency situations, you’ll also find information regarding class scheduling and examinations on the Registrar’s Office website.
Ongoing personal safety is also important.
If your student needs to get to their car or another location on campus after dark and doesn’t feel safe doing so by themselves, they can take advantage of York’s goSAFE service, one of the largest services of its kind in Canada. This year-round operation sends two staff members to your location to accompany your student on their walk to another building, the bus stop or car. They can be reached by phone (416-736-5454) or via the York U Safety App.
The York U Safety App is a must for all students with smartphones. It provides direct calling to campus security and goSAFE as well as campus weather information and access to all other campus safety-related services.