Overcoming Stress as a Champlain Senior

With just one weekend separating the Champlain student body from finals, seniors are more anxious than anyone. They have multiple objectives in mind: keep my GPA up, spend time with my friends, and enjoy being an undergrad while it lasts.

After talking with a number of seniors, I've concluded that the top stresses for seniors include, in no particular order:

* GraduationPicking up my cap and gown, picking out the right shoes, not falling on stage, having commencement in a tent for the first time, who will I be stuck sitting next to in my division, and will Kyle Dodson read my name right? These are all things that come to mind when thinking about graduation. Just breathe and be confident that all will go smoothly. It's a day to remember, whether you remember it for the sense of pride you feel, or that comic moment when the kid next to you breaks out a KKD's sandwich during the ceremony.

* Job search — "I am very anxious of not only finding a job, but finding a job that I am actually going to enjoy and not dread going to every day," said marketing senior Sammie Beebe. Whether planning to stay local, branch out, or head back home to find a job, Champlain College Career Services can help with this process. If you're struggling to make a decision about what to do after graduation, meet with your career advisor before you head home. Students who have a plan mapped out are more likely to find their way to success, said Sarah Potter, assistant vice president of Career Services.

* Interviews — Think back to your sophomore year LEAD requirement —the resume building and 'Strategically Marketing Yourself' workshop. You know your qualifications, skills, MBTI personality strengths, and your classroom and employment experience, so own it! If you need help rehearsing interview questions, career services has plenty of resources printed out with sample questions. Work with a friend or your advisor to practice your answers out loud. Try to avoid the nervous "uhm" and exude confidence. You are a Champlain alumni to-be, after all.

Keep Calm and Graduate

* Life after graduation — "Worrying about life after graduation has been a fun stress!" said broadcasting major Casey Greene. It's refreshing to hear that some stress is good stress. "I'm eager to start a different chapter in my life and move on from the memories that I've made and the people that I've met at Champlain. Securing an apartment and planning to move in with my boyfriend is very exciting! Even though there are a lot of things to figure out before I graduate, I cannot wait to do them."

* Three words: Grade Point Average — Will you graduate with honors? Will you graduate at all? Seniors are incredibly stressed about having a high GPA upon graduation. "I have worked very hard since transferring to Champlain to keep a high GPA, and I don't want it all to fall this semester," said Beebe.

* Repaying loans — College loans can be scary. When you borrow money, it is important to understand your repayment responsibilities and options. "I did my exit counseling last night, and realized I'm almost going to be paying another rent every month in order to pay off my loans," said senior Emily Haggett, and she's not alone. Meeting with Champlain College's Loan Certification Specialist, Baine Trombley, can definitely help. Trombley facilitates financial sophistication workshops with the Life Experience & Action Dimension (LEAD) to better prepare students for repaying loans post-graduation. Learn more at http://www.champlain.edu/current-students/academic-information/life-experience-and-action-dimension-(lead)-requirements/financial-sophistication-requirement/repaying-your-student-loans

* Relationships — Living at college can be looked at as one giant slumber party, where your friends are never too far away. You can see them whenever you want and build very strong, almost inseparable friendships. Champlain is a small school, where you nearly recognize the faces of all 2,000 undergrad students, and value the personal relationships you have in such a tight community. Now you hope that these friendships can stand the test of time and space, as people start to move away in search of jobs. "I've created close relationships with faculty and staff, as well as my peers through my involvement in multiple leadership roles at Champlain. I'm going to miss seeing these people every day and I am sad to be leaving them, but I know that we will all stay in touch and I will use what they taught me everyday," said Greene.

How to Keep Stress Under Control

"Some really good ways to handle stress would be to first identify the sources of stress in one's life and find ways to avoid them or reduce their impact," said senior psychology major Jordan Lupien, whose Capstone project highlights individuals' responses to stress. "Some other stressors for seniors include financial responsibilities, change in social life due to increased demand in work and school, and exposure to new people outside of college (i.e. new bosses, managers, colleagues)."

She suggests popular techniques like exercising, yoga, deep breathing, positive self-talk, meditation, prayer and muscular relaxation exercises. Some people feel better when listening to music or participating in their favorite hobby. Other tips: fill your day with laughter, volunteer, go shopping, stay organized, eat healthily and certainly get enough sleep. Keeping a journal of events and things you're grateful for, like access to a great college education, can remind you that things aren't so bad.

"When it comes to stress it's important to know what stresses you out and what works to help reduce your stress. There is no stress reduction technique that is a cure-all," stated Lupien.

Some seniors are laughing in the face of the anxiety. "Despite enormous pressure, enormous consequence for failure, and huge amounts of work, I am not stressed," said George Taylor Bentz, a business major who is graduating in three years. "I'm a [rock] climber; we routinely put ourselves in situations where failure is likely, and failure means death. Finals? Graduation? Please. To quote Hagrid, 'What's comin' will come, and we'll meet it when it does.'" Take a hint from Bentz and get out and do something you love, like rock climbing, to relieve any stresses you may have. You can clear your head and put things into perspective.

Commencement coordinator Diana Agusta hopes that the senior week activities planned for the week after finals will help seniors relax before commencement on May 4. This year, senior week includes a day at Jay Peak Resort's indoor waterpark, the annual "Taste of Burlington" event with live music by Phineas Gage, bowling night, and the last hurrah boat cruise on Lake Champlain. Seniors will be able to sign up for the events at the Graduation Fair on Thursday, April 18 from 2-6 p.m. in Hauke Conference Room where they will pick up their caps and gowns. In the days after, registration for events will continue at the HUB in IDX Student Life Center.

Good luck Class of 2013! We wish you all the best. See you at commencement.


Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 60 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 379 Colleges: 2015 Edition. Champlain was named a "Top-Up-and-Coming School" by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges and is ranked in the top tier of 2014 Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit www.champlain.edu.


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