Dear Students: An open letter to students as the semester closes

Dearest students,

We have 18 days of the semester left. This is nearly three weeks. That’s a lot of time! However, if you are in the same space as me you may be feeling terribly stressed and awfully overwhelmed. I’ve noticed that these early-to-dark days have put me in a sad and grumpy mood. And then with the rain I only want to collapse into the warmth and safety of my bed. I see that many of my colleagues and students are similarly tied up into knots of stress.

And so.

Please remember to breathe. Also remember that you are not alone in whatever you are feeling. And also know that at least one of your professors, and probably all of them, understand this. We have many fast approaching deadlines, I know. If you need an extension, please let me know in advance and I will do my best to work with you. Please do the best you can. But ask for help when you need it. Make a time management plan for this final push.

And also, know that this terrible, overwhelming stress is one of those odd places for future nostalgia. This is part of college. I remember pulling all nighters (and having midnight panic attacks and minor nervous breakdowns) through undergrad and grad school. I’m back in grad school again and so I, too, am remembering the panic and the stress. Am I supposed to tell you that? I don’t know. Until recently all of my professors maintained a stoic calm exterior, leaving us students to wallow in our own feelings of unworthiness and I-can’t-do-it-ness. But I think it is good for you to see the person behind the professor. We all have our anxieties, stresses, and panics. Once you push through you see that you learned, you grew, and maybe you even bonded with your fellow students.

You’ve worked really hard all semester. I’m thinking of your animated conversations, your thoughtful challenges to the literature, your vocal debates. You impress and inspire me with the intellectual work you offer to your reading diaries. Your honest feedback in the reflective journals creates such pride in my teacherly heart. While these last few weeks will challenge and push you, remember that you are growing. You are so close. Even if you can’t see it, I can.

So. Ask for help if you need it. Let me know if you need an extension. Breathe deeply. Find something to make you laugh. Do a bit of work each day. And reach out to your colleagues if you are feeling too frustrated and stressed.

Let me know what you need. I am proud of you. We’ll get there.