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A Helping Hand

Problems with exam stress or procrastination? A series of workshops provides impetus for successful studies

Freiburg, Oct 24, 2018

A Helping Hand

Photo: Harald Neumann

What do you need to succeed in your studies? It seems everyone has their own answer to this. Besides the demands of the subject, efficient organization is essential. The Central Academic Advice Office of the University of Freiburg is here to give students a helping hand: organized and presented by Anna Mielich, Dr. Alexandra Rüdell and Anna-Lena Lessle, the Läuft bei mir?! – Interaktive Impulsabende für ein gelungenes Studium series of workshops runs for five evenings from October to December 2018, dealing with self-management, procrastination, coping with stress, exam stress, and finally with doubts and how to take decisions. Pascal Lienhard gathered a few tips to begin with.

Success: the workshop series aims to help students find their own solutions to problems with studying. Photo: Harald Neumann

Everyone’s talking about self-management. What is essential on a To-Do list?

Anna-Lena Lessle: It should have priorities. You have to think about what tasks are important. What has to be done soon, what can wait? This gives you an overview and helps you find out where best to start. Alternatively, you can look and see what chores you find especially hard and start with them. This boosts motivation for the next step. In any case, you have to check what’s on the list, which things are important and then tackle them.

That brings us to our next issue: the notorious procrastination, putting off chores. How can I stop myself from shelving tasks?

Alexandra Rüdell: The realization that you have this behavior pattern is the most important thing. Many find it hard to admit. It’s especially difficult when there are no deadlines. Then you have to ask yourself what’s keeping you from doing something today. It also helps to make the negative consequences of procrastination clear: by doing this I’m wasting my own time, maybe with a guilty conscience. So you can ask yourself whether that’s what you want.

From left to right: Anna-Lena Lessle, Alexandra Rüdell and Anna Mielich. Photos: Jürgen Gocke

A lot of people find it hard to cope with stress. There are various mechanisms for doing this. How can I find which method suits me personally?

Anna Mielich: We can’t provide panaceas. Our job is to provide impetus. To help people to find their own relaxation rituals; let students think about what does them good. Finding this out is the key. One maybe needs activities such as sports or chatting, another relies on quiet and wants to be alone. It helps to chat with others and broaden one’s ideas; it’s inspirational.

Coping with exam stress is also involved. How do I manage to keep an overview when I have lots of term papers or exams?

Anna-Lena Lessle: First of all it’s important to find out how much effort each task demands and which exam is especially important. Organizing this at the start is helpful to tackling issues step-by-step. This also includes time management that suits you and is farsighted. Something a lot of people leave at the bottom of the list is the question of how I can do something good for myself. But you mustn’t miss out on a little joy of life in stressful times – whether it’s a delicious meal, a sauna visit or meeting friends. It’s also important to consider why you are doing the chores you have. Knowing that I want to finish my studies makes it easier to tackle a difficult examination more pragmatically. So I can reformulate objectives positively and gain more motivation.

The joy of life – such as a meal with friends – mustn’t be overlooked, especially in stressful times. Photo: Rawpixel/Unsplash

Some people suffer from doubt during their studies, it becomes hard to take decisions. How can they deal with this? After all, there is a lot hanging on some decisions.

Anna Mielich: We take a look at formative moments in individual biographies in the workshop, and examine thoroughly what was involved that time in dealing with decisions and doubts. On this basis it’s then possible to look and see how you can deal with a situation that is causing doubts now. The solution doesn’t have to be stopping or changing the degree program. It’s worth finding out what the problem is and how to set the wheels turning to solve it. Naturally doubts don’t vanish overnight. It’s a process that you need time for. We perceive doubt and long-term decision-making in life at three levels. At the university it usually involves the head, the intellect. However, heart and intuition must be included. The right decision can usually be identified by feeling right at all three levels.

Starts on 30th October 2018

The series of workshops starts on 30th October 2018 with the subject of self-management. In the following weeks it will look at procrastination (6th November), coping with stress (13th November), coping with exam stress (27th November) and coping with doubts and decisions (4th December). All the workshops are free for students and take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the first floor of the Student Service Center, Sedanstraße 6. They can be taken as stand-alone workshops or in any combination. The workshops are also open to students in later years. Please register to attend by e-mail to the Fokus erstes Studienjahr project team at .


More information

Central Academic Advice Office