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Sunday, May 26, 2024

As we approach the end of the quarter, now is a good time to reach out to instructors

Many of us are dealing with both school-related and pandemic-related emotional stress

The quarter system can be brutal even without the added emotional stress of living in a pandemic. Midterms start as early as the end of Week 2 and the next eight weeks can feel like a steady stream of never-ending exams, assignments and projects. If you feel burnt out, you are not alone. We are right there with you.

School can already feel emotionally stressful even without the added toll of being isolated from friends and loved ones, living through a violent riot at our Capitol, enduring climate change disasters and missing out on memorable events like in-person graduations. It is important to know when and how to ask for help when you need it. 

Although most of us are in classes so large that it is virtually impossible for professors to know everyone’s name let alone to get to know everyone personally, many of our professors truly care about their students and want to see them succeed. 

We know it is much more difficult than it should be to access mental health care and resources at UC Davis and other universities, but there are steps you can take to lighten your current academic burden. If you feel like you can’t meet deadlines without sacrificing your mental health, this is the time to email your professor and ask for an extension or for a different comparable assignment. If you do not feel like you performed as well on an exam or a paper as you know you could have if you were less distraught, now is the time to ask your professor for any opportunities to make up those points. The worst-case scenario is your instructor is unwilling to accommodate you, which is the same result as not reaching out at all—it is in your favor to at least consider doing so.

We are grateful for the instructors who have been so incredibly accommodating during remote instruction, and we hope others who have expected even more from their students than in a regular year will follow suit. There is more than one way to show competency of a subject matter, and one bad grade does not necessarily indicate a lack of understanding. Rather, it may indicate students are trying so hard to cope with emotional stress that they were not able to demonstrate their best abilities. We hope that professors will work with students to ensure they can still be as academically successful as they would have been in a year with in-person instruction, during which they would not be dealing with the emotional exhaustion brought on by pandemic life.

For students who set—sometimes unreasonably—high expectations for themselves academically, the following can be difficult to accept: One bad grade on an assignment, a midterm or even in a class will not determine your outcome in life, nor does it mean you are not an incredibly capable human being. The emotional rollercoaster that has been the last year of our lives is more than enough reason to forgive yourself for not doing as well as you feel you should have. Taking care of yourself will actually set yourself up for future success.

There are ways to make putting your best foot forward academically easier when you have to divert much of your time to emotional coping. Try setting aside time for the weekend or even part of your weekday during which you do not focus on schoolwork. We spend so much time on screens; if there is an activity you like to do that does not involve a screen, be sure to make time for it—The Editorial Board highly recommends pickleball. Days can start to blend together during this pandemic, and scheduling specific times to study during the week and fun activities for the weekend can help ground you in the present. Break up your assignments or studying hours into smaller, more manageable tasks. Grab a friend and enjoy the warmer weather by studying outdoors with some distance and masks.

You are so much more valuable than your midterm grade. Ask for help when you need it, take steps to make school work easier and more enjoyable and take it easy on yourself when you do not perform as well as you had expected. 

Written by: The Editorial Board


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