­The toughest time of the academic year is upon students everywhere. As students gear up for final exams and papers, they will soon experience the not-so-pleasant side effects of long study sessions and the inevitable plague of procrastination: total exhaustion and stress, or a condition we like to call exam-itis. Luckily, with the right event programming, you can help students stay engaged with your school during rough academic times.

It’s no secret that engaged students are happier students who are more likely to perform well academically and persist to graduation. Programming to engage and support students is even more important during finals week when stress is running at an all time high.

What can you do to engage and support your students during this demanding time? 

Take heart, the doctor is in with event ideas to add to your campus calendar during finals week. We’ve got the top four most common symptoms of exam-itis and the event programming medicine to cure them.

Symptom 1: Fatigue, often caused by sleep deprivation

Finals week is an exhausting time. Faced with deadlines and cumulative exams, many students sacrifice a good night’s rest in order to cram in extra study hours. Nutrition also falls by the wayside as students reach for grab-and-go options, junk, or comfort foods.

Cure 1: Fuel and fun

Why not help your students make healthy choices with refueling centers around campus? Nothing on a college campus says “we care” like free food. Offer nutritious brain foods containing healthy fats, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Make it fun by adding a theme. How about a midnight mad hatter’s caffeination station with tea, coffee, and finger foods like bite-sized granola bars? The possibilities are endless, but the cure remains the same: feed a fever, and exam-itis.

Symptom 2: Stress, likely due to extreme procrastination

The pressures of finals week induce stress in even the hardiest students. In treating this symptom with programming, it’s important to keep in mind that no two students are alike in how they prefer to relieve stress.

Cure 2: Relaxation and recreation

Never fear, you can plan events that cover a wide-range of stress reduction techniques. Try relaxing and renewing events like free fifteen minute massages, yoga on the quad, or coffeehouse-style, acoustic performances for your students in need of some Zen time.

For students who would fidget through a massage and need to let out their pent-up tension and exam-induced anxiety, host programs centered on physical activity. Nothing helps to reduce stress like dodge ball, capture-the-flag, or a water-balloon fight. Planning events that are throwbacks to the playground help students recall the peace of mind of those stress-free days.

Symptom 3: A general woe-is-me attitude

When students are knee deep in lecture notes and library books, it’s easy for them to adopt a morose outlook.

Cure 3: Silliness and swag

Stem the melancholy tide by making them laugh! Finals week programming should incorporate the right balance of comedy, silliness, fun, and surprises. Bring in an improv comedy troupe or screen movies featuring slapstick humor. And never underestimate the power of surprising your students with giveaways. Have you ever seen someone frown while holding a new, free t-shirt? We didn’t think so.

Symptom 4: Cabin fever or crowded library induced claustrophobia

Studying inside for hours on end can leave students with a serious case of cabin fever. Combine that with over-crowded study spaces and you’re bound to see frustrated students.

Cure 4: Sunshine and stop-bys

If weather permits, schedule a few of your finals programs outside. Host carnival or festival-inspired events to get students out of the library. They will appreciate the excuse to spend time lounging on the quad and soaking up the sun, even if they are catching up on reading while they’re at it. Plus, the “stop-by” nature of these events allows students to choose the timing of their study breaks. During finals, students are more likely to attend an event that doesn’t have the pressure of a strict start and end time.

Takeaway: Keep it simple

With the right approach, you can create engaging programs to help reduce the effects of exam-itis symptoms. When in doubt, keep finals events simple and fun. Your students will enjoy the break from tackling complex academic tasks.