Getting Through the Stress of Finals

Students studying at tableThe end of the semester is approaching, and that means final exams are on the horizon. This can be a very stressful time for many of us, since exams often count for a significant portion of the final grade, and there’s everything else going on in our lives on top of that. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your stress levels that won’t only keep you sane; they might even help you do better on your exams. Here are some of the ways that you can reduce your stress while preparing for final exams.

Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise include strengthening your bones and muscles, managing your blood sugar and insulin levels, and reducing your risk of heart disease, to name only a few things. Did you know that exercise can also lower your stress levels? According to the Mayo Clinic, virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever, and it does this in a few ways:

  • It increases your body’s production of endorphins, which are the feel-good neurotransmitters commonly attributed to the runner’s high.
  • It causes you to concentrate on your body’s movements, driving out the thoughts that are stressing you through singular focus, similar to meditation.
  • It can increase your self-confidence, relax you, and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety, all of which will improve your mood.

If you want to use exercise as a stress reliever, the main thing is that you find an exercise that you enjoy doing. Whether it’s running, weight training, yoga, playing a sport, or even dancing, if it’s an activity that gets your body moving, it will aid in reducing the stress you’re feeling. If you’ve got the time and are on the main campus, you can visit the ACC Fitness Center in the Annex building, which has equipment that students can use for free when you swipe your student ID card.

Diet

Having a well-balanced diet, one that contains a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. While the occasional fast food outing or snack run isn’t going to ruin your diet, reaching for a cheeseburger or bag of chips might not be the best option while you’re studying. In fact, according to UCLA’s Explore Integrative Medicine site, there are certain foods and other supplements that can aid in lowering your stress levels by strengthening your immune system, stabilizing your mood, and reducing blood pressure. Here are some nutrients that can help to reduce your stress, and some foods that contain them:

  • Vitamin C – lowers your levels of cortisol (a major stress hormone) and your blood pressure during high-anxiety situations.
    • Citrus fruits, pineapple, broccoli, tomatoes.
  • Complex Carbohydrates – Increases serotonin production (which contributes to well-being and happiness) and stabilizes blood pressure.
    • Whole grains, fruits, vegetables.
  • Magnesium – Useful for avoiding headaches and fatigue, relieving premenstrual mood changes, and improving sleep quality.
    • Leafy greens, salmon, soy beans/edamame.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Reduces surges of stress hormones and promotes protection against heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome.
    • Tuna, salmon, pistachios, almonds.

Some common comfort foods can also give you benefits. A bit of dark chocolate not only relieves stress, but can improve your cognitive function and mood, while oatmeal can reduce your levels of stress hormones and boost your serotonin. If you enjoy drinking tea, you can benefit from chamomile, which relieves stress-induced symptoms, mint, which relieves stress and induces calmness, and barley, which relaxes the body by improving serotonin synthesis. If you’d like to pick up a healthy snack or some tea ahead of your finals, the Espresso Yourself Café on the Main Building’s first floor offers a wide range of items that have stress-relieving benefits, and will be open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm before and during finals week.

Meditation

According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, meditation as a practice is used “for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance…and enhancing overall health and well-being.” In trials and studies, it has been determined that a particular form, mindfulness meditation, shows evidence of improving anxiety, depression, and even insomnia. Here are a couple of ways that you can practice mindfulness meditation:

  • Remain aware and present in the moment – don’t let the past or future concern you, pay attention to your current surroundings without judgment.
  • Breath awareness – take slow, deep breaths, count the number of seconds you spend breathing, and ignore any thoughts that enter your head. Focus only on your own breathing.

Meditation has an advantage in that it can be done just about anywhere, and you can employ some of the breathing techniques while you’re taking your exams. One technique, called 4-7-8 breathing, is to slowly breathe in for four seconds, hold that breath for seven seconds, and then slowly exhale for eight, and repeat at least three more times, or until you’re feeling relaxed.

Sleep

Sleep and stress both influence each other. When we get the necessary amount of restful sleep per night, our stress levels on average are lower, but when we’re stressed, it becomes harder to get that good night’s rest. On top of that, stress can lead to insomnia, further making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. So what can you do to get the sleep that will help lower your stress and get you well rested for exams? The National Sleep Foundation offers these tips:

  • Exercise – releases both physical and mental tensions. Recommended at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Downtime – avoid electronics and work-related, stimulating, or stressful activities. Do calming activities such as reading, light stretching, or listening to calming music. Recommended 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.
  • Decompression techniques – deep breathing, guided imagery, or progressive muscle relaxation. Recommended five to 10 minutes before bedtime.

Other ways that you can get to sleep more easily include not eating within one to two hours before bedtime, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening, drinking herbal teas containing chamomile, valerian, or lavender, and aromatherapy.

Time Management

Between school, work, social time, and personal time, we’re trying to juggle a lot of events both in our lives and with other people’s lives, which contributes to a lot of our stress. Knowing how to effectively manage that time can help to eliminate some of that stress. The McGraw Center for Teaching & Learning at Princeton University has come up with ten principles derived from research on time management, motivation theory, and experience working with university students that can help you effectively plan out your time. Here is the abridged version:

  1. Commitment – Only schedule tasks if you’re going to do them.
  2. Pursue fun – Make time for the things you enjoy doing, and organize your academic and other obligations around those commitments to fun.
  3. Time vs. task focus – Devote time to important tasks, and set your purpose for those tasks.
  4. One thing at a time – Current research shows that what we consider to be multi-tasking is actually switching back and forth between tasks, which takes more time and energy.
  5. Block out time – Devote chunks of time to specific classes, and make those chunks a part of your regular schedule.
  6. First things first – Schedule the most important tasks to do first thing in the day, or as early as possible.
  7. Routine – With good habits in place, you don’t have to make as many hard decisions, and are less likely to make unproductive ones.
  8. Flexibility – Leave empty time slots for when your schedule changes, and schedule in recreation time.
  9. Respond vs. react – When faced with a decision to diverge from your schedule, pause and take a moment to think about it, then remember what’s most important to you and do what will help you get it.
  10. Organize your environment – Minimize distraction, maximize focus, use physical reminders, enlist the aid of friends for studying, and ask them not to call or text you when you need the time for your tasks.

Since study time should be on your agenda, here are some tips when studying for exams:

  • Review your notes often to familiarize yourself with the content.
  • Give yourself short breaks every 20-30 minutes to give your brain a chance to process the material.
  • Avoid cramming right before your exam.

Lastly, be sure to include enough time in your schedule to get to class at least five minutes early. Take into account how long your commute time is in the worst-case scenario so that you can don’t find yourself stuck on the road when your exam starts.

Whether you try one of these methods or all of them, each method has a positive influence on the effectiveness of the others, so try whichever ones fit your wants and needs and experiment. There are many other ways that you can reduce your stress as well. One such way is through the Denver Pet Partners Therapy Dog event, being held this May 6th from 11:30 – 1:30 in the library on the second floor of ACC’s main building. The library will also be offering healthy grab ‘n go snacks and extending their hours that week, giving you more opportunities to practice beneficial stress relief before finals begin.

Good luck to all of you on your exams!

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

Take Advantage of Summer Classes

woman working at computerWe’re intimately familiar with taking classes from the fall through spring. For most of us, this has been the way we’ve gone to school since we were children, and most likely, you looked forward to the summer break eagerly. It was the time where many of us were free of the obligations of homework and were able to pursue our own interests, whether it was group activities, hanging out with friends, relaxing at home with a video game, movie, or book, or for anyone at least aged 16, starting your first job to earn some spending money. For many students though, summer was a time to take extra classes.

There are many reasons why we might have taken summer classes in high school: improving our grades, taking specialized classes, and very commonly now, to prepare for college. These are valid reasons at the high school level, but why should you take summer classes at the college level? Unlike high school, in college we have greater flexibility in choosing which classes we take, and when we want to take them. So let’s examine some of the advantages of spending time in the classroom during the summer.

  1. Spread the workload

    If you’re planning to get through school in the 2- to 4-year time frame, that means you have to average 15 credits a semester; in other words, up to five classes per. But let’s say you take two of those classes during the summer? That would reduce your average semester workload by a fifth, giving you more time to study for the other four classes and potentially increasing your grade in those classes, which can open the way to GPA-based scholarships and grants. More free time during regular semesters also means more opportunities to earn income, if you’re working while attending school.

  1. Earn your degree faster

    This is not an undertaking to be taken lightly; summer classes are typically shorter than fall and spring classes, but they also contain the same amount of course work. However, for dedicated students working to get their Associate of Applied Science degrees to enter the workforce, taking summer courses on top of a regular class load can potentially let them graduate a semester early. This means more time spent in the profession of your choosing, leading to greater opportunities for advancing your career.

  1. Save some money

    If you’re attending a 4-year university, you know that the cost of classes is much higher than attending a community college. Fortunately, earned credits can transfer, and with Colorado Guaranteed Transfer Courses, summer courses at a community college can also be a great way to take care of your general education classes while spending less at your home institution. As an added advantage, this allows you to focus more time on the courses related to your major while you’re at university.

Whether you’re going to a 2- or 4-year institution, attending college is a great way to advance your career and your life, and summer classes are one of the ways to help you do this. If you’re interested in taking summer classes at ACC, registration opened March 26 for Maymester, 8-week, and 10-week classes.

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

October is College Application Month

students at Discover ACC spring 2018October is College Application Month, and Arapahoe Community College is ready to help you Move Mountains every step of the way.

No matter where you may wish to pursue your higher education, you’ll want to begin by completing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to be eligible for grants, work study, student loans and other financial aid programs.

Did you know that ACC helps any college-bound student with the FAFSA? We host FAFSA labs for students and their parents all the time…for free! Students who complete their FAFSA by November 9, 2018, may even be eligible for a College Application Month scholarship giveaway.

If you’re applying to a two-year or four-year school in Colorado, visit the College and University Checklist and Application Link webpage. Find your institution and click Application Info. This will direct you to each institution’s application page. If you’re applying to several schools, consider filling out the Common Application, which is accepted at colleges and universities all over the country.

Navigating career options can seem overwhelming, but with the help of the College in Colorado Career Cluster Survey, you can begin aligning your interests with our guided pathways, and you’ll be well on your way to developing your plan for success.

Think you’ve identified a possible career path? Now’s the time to figure out what kind of education or training you’ll need. Keep in mind that the ACC Castle Rock Collaboration Campus is scheduled to open next fall, providing a seamless pathway from high school diploma to associate degree to bachelor’s degree, all under one roof!

Looking for a great way to familiarize yourself with all of the student resources at ACC? Mark your calendars for Friday, Oct. 19, and join us for Discover ACC! from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Littleton Campus. Our ACC Admissions team and student ambassadors will be on hand to talk about transitioning to college, financial aid, degree pathways and much more.

ACC will also visit dozens of local high schools throughout October, and for the fifth consecutive year, we’ll have representatives at Denver Public Schools’ College Application Day. As many as 1,200 DPS students will be in attendance, many of whom hope to become the first in their immediate & extended families to attend college.

Additionally, Tuesday, Oct. 30, is Colorado Free Application Day. The ACC Career & Transfer Center is hosting a pizza party at the Littleton Campus that day, and several in-state universities will be on hand to meet with students about degrees and transfer options.

Questions? Connect with ACC today at 303.797.5637 or admissions@arapahoe.edu. Our friendly, helpful staff will be glad to assist you.

by Jeff Duggan, ACC Communications Coordinator

Discover Your Pathway at ACC

Discover ACC! Save the Date. Friday,  Oct. 19 - 9:30am-1:30pm - ACC Littleton CampusExplore 7 guided pathways to your future during our “Discover Your Pathways” breakout sessions at Discover ACC! on Friday, October 19 from 9:30am – 1:30pm at ACC’s Littleton campus. High school students, guidance counselors, and other chaperones, RSVP today for Discover ACC!

With over 100 degrees and certificates to choose from, our pathways can help you find a focus, stay on track, and take you one step closer to achieving your dream. Take a deeper look into these pathways by choosing 2 breakout sessions that fit your interests.

ACC Pathways

  • Arts, Communication & Design
    • Architectural Engineering
    • Art History Transfer
    • Commercial Photography
    • Communication Transfer
    • Interior Design
    • Journalism & Contemporary Media
    • Multimedia Graphic Design & Illustration
    • Music Audio Technology
    • Music Transfer
    • Studio Art Transfer
  • Business
    • Accounting
    • Business Transfer
    • Construction Management
    • Retail Management
    • Business Administration
  • Global, Human & Social Studies
    • Anthropology Transfer
    • Economics Transfer
    • French Transfer
    • History Transfer
    • Philosophy Transfer
    • Political Science Transfer
    • Psychology (AA) Transfer
    • Sociology Transfer
    • Spanish Transfer
  • Health
    • Emergency Medical Services
    • Health Information Technology
    • Medical Laboratory Technology
    • Medical Office Technology / Medical Assistant
    • Mortuary Science
    • Nurse Aide (CNA)
    • Nursing
    • Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Math & Sciences
    • Biology Transfer
    • Chemistry Transfer
    • Fermentation Sciences Transfer
    • Geography Transfer
    • Geology Transfer
    • Mathematics Transfer
    • Physics Transfer
    • Pre-Engineering Transfer
    • Psychology (AS) Transfer
  • Public Services
    • Criminal Justice Career or Transfer
    • Early Childhood Teacher Education Transfer
    • Elementary Teacher Education Transfer
    • Emergency Service Administration (BAS)
    • Law Enforcement Academy
    • Paralegal / Legal Assistant
  • Technology
    • Automotive Service Technology
    • Computer Information Systems
    • Game Design and Development
    • Computer Network Technology
    • Engineering Graphics Technology

Along with our pathways, you’ll get a chance to connect with college resources, meet ACC students and staff, explore degree and certificate options, and learn more about ACC. You’ll also get the opportunity to learn about the services ACC provides students and alumni, including career counseling and assessments, academic advising, employment services and career fairs. Plus, every senior will be entered for a chance to win an ACC scholarship!

See the agenda and learn more about Discover ACC!

College Transfer Tools

ACC Fall Transfer Fair 2017Over the last four years, I’ve had the privilege of working with countless ACC students interested in completing their associate degree and transferring to a university to obtain their bachelor’s degree. Our office, the Career & Transfer Center, is happy to sit down with students to plan out their ACC academic journey in order to ensure that they’re taking the right steps for maximum success. Along the way, I’ve introduced students to several cool transfer tools.

  1. Colorado Department of Higher Education’s Transfer Degrees. Our state has worked tirelessly to create agreements which allow you to graduate from a community college with a 60-credit Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree, enroll with junior status at a university and complete the bachelor’s degree in no more than an additional 60 credits (for a total of 120 credits). Check them out!
  2. Transferology – Want to learn how your credits will transfer exactly to many of our state institutions? Check out this cool website which performs an unofficial degree audit for you – before you apply!
  3. Transfer Fairs! The best way to maximize your transfer is to connect with your university representatives early and often. Meet with over 40 of them at the fall transfer fair, Wednesday, September 26 from 10:30am – 1:30pm in the Summit Room at Littleton Campus.

Want to learn more about transfer? Come by our office on the 2nd floor of the main building on the ACC’s Littleton Campus, M2010. Or call us at 303-797-5805.

by Shari Culver, Director, ACC Career & Transfer Center

International Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist, Lucy Daberkow, attends 2018 NAFSA Conference

International Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist, Lucy DaberkowIn our ongoing efforts for internationalization, Lucy Daberkow represented Arapahoe Community College (ACC) at the annual NAFSA conference in Philadelphia, PA. NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. This conference is the premier event for international educators and presents an opportunity to learn about the latest information in a variety of topics such as immigration policies, marketing and recruiting on a global scale, and how to develop more interculturally-competent educators.

The 2018 annual conference theme, “Diverse Voices, Shared Commitment,” and according to NAFSA, “highlights the value and power of diverse voices that lead to more authentic collaborations and speak to alternative narratives that challenge our old ideas and make us think about new solutions and opportunities.” Some of the most noteworthy speakers presented workshops such as “Expanding your Toolkit for Intercultural Development”, “Building a Successful International Peer Mentor Program”, and “Using Cultural Analysis for Predicting and Handling Cross Cultural Misunderstanding.” In addition, one very well-received event included a presentation by renowned scientist and TV personality, Bill Nye. His presentation focused on the importance of science and technology in education, as well as the need for a more comprehensive space-exploration program and increased efforts to combat our changing climate.

The conference attracted thousands of participants from around the globe and presented an excellent learning and networking opportunity, which undoubtedly serves to increase ACC’s standing in the international educational arena.

We encourage international students who would like to study at an American college to apply to ACC. We offer nearly 100 degree and certificate programs with options to transfer to a variety of four-year universities throughout the state of Colorado and beyond. We have small class sizes, welcoming faculty, a safe college environment, and accessible public transportation. If you are an international transfer student in the US, our application deadline is July 15. For more information on our school and the international application process visit arapahoe.edu/international-students or call 303.797.5904 to schedule an appointment.

by Lucy Daberkow, ACC International Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist

Student Services at ACC that won’t cost you a thing!

ACC students in writing centerArapahoe Community College is the perfect place to begin – or continue – your journey towards Moving Mountains with your academic and career goals.

ACC offers an affordable education (lowest tuition among state-funded schools) with instructors who are experts in their field. Classes are available online and at our campuses in Littleton, Parker and Castle Rock. We’re close to home, and our small class sizes allow students to receive individual attention.

Our Career & Transfer Center provides guidance for students looking to continue their education beyond ACC. In fact, we offer guaranteed transfer programs to all four-year Colorado public institutions. Transfer fairs and employment expos, as well as job/career exploration events, are held during the fall and spring semesters. Peer tutoring services, as well as math and writing support centers, are offered at no cost to students. Academic Advising provides one-on-one assistance with course selection and the registration process as students develop their personalized plan for one of seven degree pathways.

Students can get involved with clubs and organizations as they acclimate to college life. Our honor societies and student government foster leadership skills and provide opportunities for scholarly growth. The Student Success Center facilitates a variety of tools and enrichment workshops to hone time-management and study skills.

ACC is committed to supporting veterans and military-connected students, and has been named as a Military-Friendly School. Student Access Services can assist with permanent or temporary accommodations, and on-campus counseling services are available through the Student Engagement Center. ACC also introduced the Elevate program in 2016, providing students with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to pursue higher education.

The Library & Learning Commons offers the optimal environment for individual research or group study sessions. Our Fitness Center is open Monday – Saturday, providing a welcoming facility complete with treadmills, spin bikes, free weights, locker rooms and contemporary recreational amenities. ACC also has a fully-accredited childcare center on site, providing students, employees and members of the community with a clean, healthy and nurturing environment for little ones throughout the fall, spring and summer semesters.

ACC is partnering with Colorado State University and the Douglas County School District on the new Castle Rock Collaboration Campus. Students can now complete their associate degree or certification in its entirety at the recently-renovated Parker Campus. Brand new, state-of-the-art science labs at the Littleton Campus will deliver the best in experiential and collaborative learning.

Our faculty and staff are dedicated to providing innovative and responsive educational and economic opportunities in an accessible, inclusive environment that promotes success for students, employees and members of the south metro Denver communities.

Whether you’re a prospective, current or transfer student, you’ll find the education and resources you need to Move Mountains at ACC and beyond.

by Jeff Duggan, ACC Communications Coordinator

Why you should meet with an Academic Advisor (and tips for a great first advising appointment)

ACC Academic Advisor with studentHave you meet with your academic advisor yet? Wondering why you should?

Academic advising is a way for you to get the guidance you need to set realistic academic goals and objectives. Your advisor will help you find the best path to meet your goals and keep you on track along the way. They’ll help you decide which classes to take and when to take them to make sure you are successful and that you are on the most efficient path to save you time and money. They can also help you explore opportunities within your major: internships, apprenticeships, and more.

Not sure what your goals are? Your advisor can help with this as well by helping you choose a pathway and determining the program that will best fit your interests and skills.

Or, if you need more help figuring our what career you might want to pursue, we also offer free Career and Transfer counseling right in the same office as Academic Advising. They can help you discover your ideal career based on your passions and interests. This will help you when working with your advisor to select the right program to get to your goals, whether that includes transferring to continue your education or beginning your career right after you graduate from ACC.

Ready to make an appointment with your academic advisor? At ACC we offer a few different options to meet your needs and schedule:

  • One-on-one appointments – for a more in-depth conversation, look into your goals and what you need to complete them, review DegreeCheck and major requirements and build a plan, complete and submit academic and financial aid appeals, connect to academic resources, major exploration, course registration, and transfer planning
  • Group registration sessions – for those just needing course scheduling assistance/guidance and to review DegreeCheck and major requirements
  • Phone or email appointments – for students who can’t make it to campus during advising hours, look into your goals and what you need to complete them, review DegreeCheck and major requirements and build a plan, complete and submit academic and financial aid appeals, connect to academic resources, major exploration, and transfer planning
  • Walk-in appointments – shorter appointments for help with registering for classes,  changing your major, or to address an immediate concern and schedule a follow-up appointment

How to get the most out of your advising session

  1. Think ahead – Think about what questions you have before you meet with your academic advisor and bring them with you along with relevant documents (transcripts, test scores, financial aid information)
  2. Problem solve – Discuss your educational successes and challenges and how to solve them
  3. Record – Write down what you discussed and the next steps to complete
  4. Participate – Ask a lot of questions!
  5. Plan – Leave your meeting with an action plan

We know you’ll learn a lot while meeting with your advisor. Don’t be afraid to follow-up with them afterwards to make sure you are on the right path and working toward your goals. Our advisors are here to help you Move Mountains and achieve your dreams. The earlier you meet with your advisor, the easier your path to success will become. Don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor today!