As Prelims Approach, Students and Experts Discuss Effects of Stress on Mental Health

The recent switch to in-person classes has excited many students for the semester ahead, but as the first week of prelims approaches, some have expressed apprehension about the start of exams due to the stress they faced last semester. 

In November, occurrences of bomb threats and gunmen on campus were followed by finals week. Students including Lindsey Feinstein ’24 and Amber Lao ’24 expressed that they feel built up pressure to finish their assignments and perform on their exams while many are still struggling with poor mental health. 

For many, online classes were not an easy undertaking. Feinstein spoke on the stress that online finals this past semester gave her. 

“This shift was very abrupt, and it was anxiety-inducing to shift gears into a different format of learning,” said Feinstein. Feinstein said that students have felt a decline in their academic process due to external factors, such as the bomb threats and the gunmen announcement. Feinstein said the threats made her feel less safe on campus, which consequently disrupted her daily routine.

AGGARWAL | A “Final” Consideration for Final Exams

The eventuality of alert level red seemed impossible to me — I  figured that the highest alert level was merely a drastic measure that we would never actually have to use. Last semester especially, with vaccinations widely available and the recent arrival of booster shots, I had not honestly given consideration to anything but in-person final exams, seeing as the entire instructional semester maintained in-person activities successfully. When the time came, though, I knew Cornell would sound the red alert alarms before the University’s COVID tracking dashboard even reported the case numbers. In a matter of a few days, an alarming percentage of my close friends were either confirmed positive for COVID or had been told they were in recent contact with someone who had contracted the virus. 

It wasn’t hard to extrapolate how the spread had happened — in the traditional rush to jam end-of-semester celebrations in before finals, there was an evident assumption that we would be okay and well within the range of cases that would allow us to end the semester normally. Well, a new, drastically more contagious variant of the virus had other thoughts.

BRENNER | Take a Break

The relentless pursuit of academic perfection has been weighing heavily on my mind since we returned from fall break. My Fall Break was  spent in the Adirondacks without touching or even thinking about the piles of schoolwork I could’ve been doing. After all, it was Fall Break, so I took a break. 

EPSTEIN | Read the Terms of Use

It’s paramount this year for students to read what they are agreeing to prior to exams and to request potential proctored alternatives if the above stated information is concerning to them.