By: Caroline Morse
When the leaves start to change color and the air becomes chilly on college campuses, students anticipate the end of the semester coming soon as they approach Thanksgiving break in November prior to finals in December. However, there seems to be a decline from students academically and physically as they come to the end here on Liberty University’s campus, according to students and staff on campus.
The common reason told by many Liberty students for their academic decline is sleep deprivation, stress and becoming overwhelmed with classes as the semester progresses.
Here on Liberty’s campus, sleep deprivation seems to be a leading cause to a student’s downslope as the semester progresses. According to the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the start of an academic decline among college students is sleep deprivation with 50 percent reporting daytime sleepiness and 70 percent reporting never getting sufficient sleep. The Institute itself reports that students seem to be staying up later while having to get up early at the same time, causing the sleep deprivation.
Liberty University sophomore Kaitlin LoForti has had plenty of sleepless nights in her academic career, but is battling sleep deprivation with her friends, coffee and me-time. The key to LoForti’s successful education is surrounding herself with uplifting friends to get through her struggles and hard times throughout the semester.
“My group of friends help give each other that down time and relaxation that really helps in the school craziness,” said LoForti. “They drive me crazy, but I’d be going crazy without them.”
LoForti spends time with her friends competing on the club racquetball team, chugging Starbucks coffee, hiking along trails and playing on an intramural soccer team. All of these activities help keep her sanity and lift her spirits up when she is exhausted from school.
Besides surrounding herself with friends, LoForti also schedules me-time that allows her to unwind by herself and destress, which she does by going to the gym in the early mornings. The gym allows LoForti to not only improve herself physically, but also giving her that mental break her brain needs throughout the week. U.S. News reports that doing a physical activity will improve productivity in the classroom due to the decrease in stress levels and increase in student attention levels.
Liberty University’s Professor of Biblical Worldview Troy Matthews has been at Liberty since 2001 and has similar, but quite different advice for students struggling to finish the semester off strong. Matthews teaches mostly freshmen and transfers for their first two semesters at Liberty with Biblical Worldview 101 and 102. According to Liberty’s Assist registration, he teaches 1,383 students this semester in four different classes.
Matthew stressed that the key to survival is organization and discipline to be successful until the end of the semester with passing grades. Matthews has taught thousands of students in his 15 years at Liberty and noted that the downward slope initially starts at a decline of attendance in his classes.
“As the semester goes along, we get tired and if we’re not careful we become less and less disciplined,” said Matthews. “Therefore, attendance falls off. It sounds cliché, but people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”
Matthews’s trick to overwhelming work is to take bit-by-bit separately and attack it independently. He remembered taking a 20 page assignment and dividing it into an outline, introduction, body and conclusion so he would not stress over the whole thing. Attacking the work load bit-by-bit keeps the student from being overwhelmed and promotes positivity as they see their work getting done.
Matthews encourages students as they approach the end of the semester to keep the end goal in mind and do their work to the best of their ability.
“Keep the end goal in mind, to graduate, but do the things now well in order to be successful,” said Matthews. “I wish I had done things differently, they weren’t bad, but not the best that I could’ve been.”
Ultimately, a student’s grade is determined by their hard work and discipline. As the semester passes, it is possible for students and staff to become prolonged with stress and start to fatigue. However, there are several ways to fight the decline in academics and physical strain.
“I’ve never failed anybody, but there are a certain percentage that do fail,” said Matthews. “They fail to come to class, fail to study for tests and quizzes, and fail to turn assignments in on time. These things will make you fail the class.”
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