Coaching for Anxiety around the Midterm Pileup 

As students move into October, the mood changes. Students who were more relaxed at the beginning of the semester begin to worry about being prepared for midterm exams, especially if they haven't been keeping up with class attendance and assignments consistently. Even the students who started out determined to keep up, putting actions in place to achieve that goal, may run into challenges -- and may suffer from rising anxiety over late or incomplete work. "No matter a student's intentions, by this point in the semester life can get in the way," notes LifeBound Master Trainer and Rutgers academic coach Sarah Kravits. "Classes missed due to religious holidays, a week out due to a COVID infection, confusion over an ill professor being replaced with another -- these and other unexpected issues can set a student back and create anxiety." 


Kravits often sees a vicious cycle in which a student begins to fall behind, becomes anxious, and then finds that their increasing anxiety makes it even tougher to get back on top of deadlines. In this situation, a coach has the potential to interrupt the cycle by asking questions that help the student focus and encourage prioritizing. Here are some to consider:

  • What tasks are essential this week, and when in time can you situate them?

  • Of your overdue assignments, which could you still hand in late for partial credit?

  • If you missed a quiz, let's look at the syllabus: What is the quiz policy? Are any grades dropped?

  • What would you like the professor to know about your situation? How can you communicate this, and what will you request?

  • What is your top priority task today?

  • Of the tasks that are worrying you now, which one would make you feel the most relief to complete?


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