As the semester continues, students and faculty must be lenient

Bethany Abrams

The students at Augustana College finish up their midterms as November approaches. Academics are picking up speed alongside all the other external stresses of season changes, COVID-19, the election, and more. It is more important than ever for professors and students to be lenient with themselves and others, prioritizing well-being over anything else.
2020 has been beyond stressful for everyone, largely in part due to the pandemic. A survey conducted by Active Minds reported in April that, “80% of college students report that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health.”
The reason for the pandemic worsening mental health revolves around the uncertainty of when it will end, financial insecurities, and fear for safety. ISU College student Danielle Cahue told NBC that, “It has made it a lot worse and made me kind of worried just to do anything.”
In years previously, when COVID-19 was not an issue, students endured a lot of stress during this time academically. This is the time when the school year picks up, when our grades depend on how well we do on midterms and finals.
The seasonal changes also do not help, and various college students experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. This disorder is sometimes referred to as the “winter blues,” and describes a sadness people endure during the cold weather and lack of sun.
Collegiateparent.com explains, “Instead of getting up early and having a regular routine like they did in high school, they often stay up late to study.” When students stay up late, this can make it infinitely harder to get vitamin D. Not only is vitamin D important for nutritional reasons, it also helps to combat symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Students overexert themselves during this season, and they tend to go full force into academics. With the seasons changing, there is less daylight and oftentimes less productivity occurs. With the virus, the activities one would do to wind-down are limited by the need to be safe.
To combat this, we all need to be lenient with ourselves. Students need to take breaks in between studying, and prioritize self-care in order to remain productive throughout the day.
There is a popular study method known as the Pomodoro Method. The way I have seen it be done is four 25-minute sessions with 5 minutes of break in between. This amounts to 100 minutes of studying and 15 minutes of break total for one full session. The reason this can be helpful is it allows students to immerse themselves into their work with no distractions; and the scheduled break in between prevents over-exertion.
Just as it is important for professors to be aware of a student’s stress, it is also important for a student to be aware of their professor’s stress.
The professors here at Augustana are also dealing with COVID-19 in a way they have never had to do before, and that can be quite an adjustment with some classes online and some in-person. This is the first fall midterms and finals that they are preparing for in the midst of a pandemic.
If we hold empathy for each other and realize we are in this together, we will be able to better approach this season. Leniency and respect is important to building a community that sticks together, rather than one filled with misunderstandings.
Some professors may channel this leniency by grading less harshly than before, by extending deadlines or by allowing for some assignments to not be counted toward the final grade. Students may channel leniency through helping others study, being understanding of a teacher’s distress rather than annoyed and emphasizing the importance of physical and mental health.
The Augustana College community so far has done a great job at prioritizing understanding for one another during these hardships of the fall semester. Through continuing this understanding, we can get through the rest of the fall and winter season with perseverance, resilience, and empathy.