It all started with puppies and over the past few years there have been more and more unusual ways to help students relax during the stressful period of examinations.
Beyond puppy rooms we have seen petting zoos, bubble wrap and colouring.
Other examples identified recently by EAB include:
The University of Southern California has taken the idea a step further by officially “hiring” a goldendoodle to serve as an official wellness dog at the university’s Office of Wellness and Health Promotion.
Color the stress away
Roosevelt University offers Play-Doh, coloring, and cookie decorating, and Northwestern offers Lego building and board games.
Shoreline Community College is inviting students to a session of the “marshmallow challenge” in which students try to build a tower out of marshmallows, dry spaghetti, and string. The activity has gained attention recently as a way to encourage creativity and teamwork.
Free food never hurts
Hunter College offers free coffee and cookies during finals week. And the University of Connecticut dining halls are hosting two weeks of special meals this year, including a holiday feast, cookie decorating, and dessert buffets.
Show students a magical time
Florida State University rolled out a whole calendar of Harry Potter-themed events this year, including:
Quidditch Ring Toss;
Harry Potter arts and crafts;
Lego Hogwarts castle-building; and
Harry Potter-themed snacks (such as pretzel wands).
Now the Harry Potter activities really are inventive. Almost as creative are the Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council who delivered a fantastic range of activities:
Group knitting sessions, yoga and letting loose with a Muay Thai punch pad are on offer.
A doodle board has been set up in the library so that students can let off steam through art.
And on Sunday an entire room is being hired out so students can come together to relax in front of Sir David Attenborough as the fifth installment of Planet Earth 2 is aired.
David Attenborough’s Planet Earth 2 screening on Sunday states: “There is literally no better way to relax in the middle of exams than the soothing tones of Sir David Attenborough. See Planet Earth on the big screen with beanbags and popcorn.”
Listed on the uni’s student representative, details of the “exam de-stress” campaign state: “Morning folks. Don’t forget that our Exam De-Stress programme is still in full swing.
“We’ll be handing out stress packs on level three of the library from 12-2pm, with a doodle board for relieving that revision tension. It works – we promise.”
The bouncy castle event promises “a wee jump around to bounce away all your exam stresses and troubles or to get yourself warmed up on another absolutely baltic Monday”.
And the latest activity in this vein at the University of Nottingham, which has proved extremely popular this month (no doubt partly because of Chinese New Year tie-in), is Chinese Brush Painting, where an artist has been teaching students how to paint plum blossom and bamboo:
This kind of thing is clearly popular in lots of universities and does seem to have a beneficial impact as this earlier post noted.
And there is undoubtedly a lot of exam stress out there:
the American College Health Association found in 2016 that out of 95,000 students nationwide:
Nearly 32% of students reported stress;
23% said stress affected their performance; and
17% were diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the past year.
Although it may seem a little like pampering all of this does meet the needs of a lot of students during the stressful period of exams. But the best of all of these stress relief activities is this: Roosevelt University brought in miniature therapy horses to its Chicago campus and Northwestern University also invited miniature therapy horses to campus this year.
This really has raised the bar