Helping panicking daughter through finals

(28 Posts)
Mrskeats Wed 03-May-17 16:04:13

As the title says really. My daughter is very ambitious and is overly stressing over her final exams. She is desperate to get a first or high 2:1 to carry on to a Masters and I think she is putting too much pressure on herself. One exam has gone well and one not so well and now she is panicking.
Any ideas of how to help?

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SpongeBobJudgeyPants Wed 03-May-17 16:08:40

Is she living with you or away? During exams, I try and reassure DD and make her laugh a bit, whilst attempting helpful viewpoints if it's something I know about that she is struggling with. DD is away, so I send her little treats. Chocolate, face masks, socks (not all at once) to let her know I am thinking about her.

Mrskeats Wed 03-May-17 16:16:49

She is away. I have tried that. The exam was only 4% today so not really that important. I do the parcels think I will do one later. Thanks

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antimatter Wed 03-May-17 16:18:20

I would ask if me visiting may help. Maybe bringing some home made food will help?

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Wed 03-May-17 16:28:23

Or if visiting isn't an option, a giftcard for a pubchain/restaurant so that a good meal and time-off could be fitted in between the revision?

bojorojo Wed 03-May-17 16:30:52

I am not sure parents can help. It is a deep seated personality trait and there is life outside a first! A decent 2:1 is good enough and most students already know where they stand prior to final exams because of course work/exam results earlier. Assuming she is ok with her work so far, I would stay calm, reassure her with reminders of how well she has done so far and she probably won't drop her marks through the floor with a less good result in a minor exam. Stay calm and keep it in proportion. Not long to go and students just have to get through it together. Often friends help and they are calming influences and support each other! (Unless all her friends stress out too of course).

BlueChairs Wed 03-May-17 16:35:58

We all do it in third year- I remember manically crying in my car after an exam on the phone to my mum and her trying to come up with options for if I failed - I got a first in the exam and she was very mad at me for leading her to so much stress.
It's terrifying, and the massive adrenaline crash after an exam makes it feel worse. She'll survive, she'll be okay - just make sure she's eating x


blueskyinmarch Wed 03-May-17 16:41:01

I think it is perfectly normal to feel like this during finals. My DD called me during hers in what we now call the ‘library stairs’ incident. She just panicked in the library and started crying so sat in the stair well and called me. I could do nothing more than make reassuring noises. She says it helped enormously and she went on to get a First. So my advice is - reassuring noises. That's all that is needed.

GoatsFeet Wed 03-May-17 17:00:44

Unless she's on the verge of a more serious actual illness (mental or physical), i wonder if modelling her a bit more of resilience and a stiff upper lip might help? sort of jolly her through a bit?

As other posters have said, this is normal. And she needs to learn strategies to deal with it. Can you be loving, sympathetic, but don't collude with her over her panic?

There IS far more to life than a First or a high 2, i. If she doesn't get those results, it is not a disaster, even for further postgrad study.

I think it's really hard particularly for young women - we live in a sexist patriarchy where all young women get the subliminal (and often quite overt) message that they are not really fully deserving of their existence unless they are exceptional at everything. They have to be clever, friendly, pretty, slim, well-dressed attractive[to boys] and so on ...

A bit of a bracing "Of COURSE you can do it. Now go out there and SMASH it!" might help at this point more than soothing sympathy. Maybe?

Mrskeats Wed 03-May-17 17:37:48

Thanks all
I think also these days they have too much info-they know exactly where they are in relation to grades re a tracker type thing
I had no idea until I got my results really
She has calmed down a bit now and I am doing the jollying thing

OP’s posts: |
GoatsFeet Wed 03-May-17 17:51:20

Good luck - to both of you!

Leeds2 Wed 03-May-17 19:32:29

Try and encourage her to have some free time each day, just to chill, get out of her room, get some fresh air and recharge her batteries.

Mrskeats Wed 03-May-17 19:35:03

Yes good idea leeds
I have sent some flowers and chocs too

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Mrskeats Wed 03-May-17 19:38:09

Thanks goats

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MumUndone Wed 03-May-17 19:44:53

I was like this when I was doing my finals. When I called my parents, my dad said the worst possible thing which was, 'don't worry, you'll do fine - you always do', whereas my mum said she understood, but that 'even if you completely fuck up, we'll work it out, it'll be ok' and that made me feel better.

Mrskeats Wed 03-May-17 19:47:35

Ok will say that I'm sure she will have done ok but it will all work out

OP’s posts: |
Gannet123 Thu 04-May-17 10:11:51

As others have said, this happens a lot. In some ways, knowing where they are can be a help in supporting them - I've had students who, from 2nd year marks, are comfortably on for a 2(1) convince themselves that they are actually going to fail the degree because of one bad exam. A rational approach says that (a) if you've constantly got 2(1) marks, a 'bad exam' is unlikely to be a failed exam and is actually unlikely to be much lower than the lowest of their previous marks and (b) even if that one bad exam was lower than any mark you've ever got, it's have to be really bad to drag you down a classification. My institution has an online calculator where you can input 2nd year marks and then calculate what you need to get to get a 2(1) or a 1st in your Final year and that can sometimes reassure as to the minimal impact of one bad exam (even if it was bad, which is probably wasn't)
As others have said, it's also important to downgrade the importance of a First - far more students nowadays aspire to Firsts than ever did, and it's just unnecessary pressure, because you very rarely need a First for anything.. It's about being strategic about where you want to get to and what you need to do that, vs always wanting to get the best marks just on principle, which leads to meltdown.

Lalsy Thu 04-May-17 10:17:57

OP, my dd is in a similar position - tho exams are yet to start. She needs a high 2.1 for next year. It is a lot of pressure and I am not sure there is much one can do. She knows exactly what she has to get, most of her marks are well over, but she is a bit erratic. So I can see why she is worried. Of course, it isn't the end of the world if she doesn't get it, there are other courses and options etc etc - but when this is what you think you have always wanted and you have been spending 7 days a week in the library, it doesn't really help to hear that! I just keep saying day at a time, don't think about the bigger picture for now, just focus and take sensible breaks, exercise, fresh air etc. She is using a mindfulness app a bit and and am sending her a parcel..Best of luck to your dd!

bojorojo Thu 04-May-17 11:10:47

I think there is a real problem with students who have to put this much effort into getting a first, or even a high 2:1. A normal exam season workload is all that is required if you are good enough. Of course that is more than normal, but this type of self-imposed workload leads to problems down the line.

My DD has completed two years of professional exams. Failure in them would have ended her career. A first, or not, (she hasn't) never made any difference to these exams at all. You just have to nail them. It made no difference to her selection for the position she now has. Employers look at far more than one qualification result. She also did extensive voluntering at the same time as the first set of post grad qualifications. In addition, now she is at work, there is pressure to peform to a high level on, quite frequently, 6 hours sleep. Not self imposed pressure: work pressure to do well. She may not be able to continue with this organisation if she does not do well and has to do assessments all this year to show her competence, as well as a full on workload.

Unfortunately the pressure of university exams is just the start! One tough exam, or one wobble is normal, but overall resiliance is key. However, those that can come through it calmly and rationally tend to be better placed for later on in life when the going gets really tough!

Needmoresleep Thu 04-May-17 14:24:12

Borojo, with respect, that is your daughter.

DS needs a first for what he wants to do next. Indeed his Oxford Masters offer is quite challenging and requires more than a first. Finals are horrid, there is no way around it, and, your daughter excepted, not many manage top grades without working extremely hard.

DS is fed up. Two weeks to go so he is putting in full effort. I think it will be easier when exams are underway.

Lalsy Thu 04-May-17 14:41:32

I agree, Need. I know plenty of people who worked hard (being in the library for some of every day in the run up is not at all unusual, your dd excepted again, Bojorojo) for finals, got anxious at times, and went on to cope just fine with what life threw at them (and vice versa).

blueskyinmarch Thu 04-May-17 15:13:49

My DD maybe got in a tizzy around finals time but in general she is a level headed sort. I think she realised fairly late in the game that if she just gave a little bit more of a push she would get a First and decided to go for it. Nothing wrong with that- a bit of motivation is good.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 04-May-17 17:05:58

I agree with others that this is normal.

I also disagree pretty strongly with bojo. I have taught a lot of students, some of whom have gone on to postgraduate degrees, and it's simply not the case that those who have to work very hard, or who panic, do less well as postgrads. In fact, sometimes students who seem to breeze through as undergraduates actually come a cropper at postgrad.

It is true that, to be in with a decent chance of a Masters, she needs a 2:1, and she really would be better with a 1st. So she's not being silly to be concerned and I can imagine it might feel worse if everyone is telling her not to worry at all (because she will worry). But she should know by now whether or not a 2:1 or above is achievable, and steady, concentrated work (ideally, with a clocking-off time in the evening, after which she makes sure she sleeps and eats well) ought to get her there.

Does she have specific worries, do you know? We might be able to help.

goodbyestranger Thu 04-May-17 17:42:23

It's completely standard to be very stressed around finals time and in my experience doesn't directly correlate with how a young person deals with life later on. One of one of my DDs best (boy) friends at uni - usually a very cool cat - got so stressed on the eve of finals that he had to rusticate then came back and got the best first in the year the following year and is now top dog of his cohort at one of the most competitive, cut throat firms across the UK/US. Just one example, but there are many others who get really, really rattled by finals and then never again.

I've also got a finalist DC this year (my fifth) and he's getting regular deliveries of chocolate (yesterday's was a large chocolate fish and chips with lime flavoured peas), more to send an indirect message that I'm thinking of him than to crowd him out with chocolate. That just seems better than phoning him up - he's got better things to do with his time off than talk to me.

No good advice, sorry, but definitely very, very normal.

bojorojo Fri 05-May-17 00:36:51

Just shows they are all different then. No two the same! I did say an exam season workload by the way - not no work! I didn't say it was a breeze either!

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