Why Final Exams Are Going to the Dogs

Last Updated Dec 8, 2010 3:23 PM EST

Stressed out about final exams? Pet a dog.Golden retriever laying in yellow flowers
Studies have shown that animals can be amazing stress reducers. Dogs can lower blood pressure, improve regular breathing and boost your state of mind.

Consequently, colleges are bringing Golden Retrievers (my favorite), black labs, Pomenarians and other dogs to their campuses in hopes of helping students cope with final exam stress.

Yesterday at the University of California, San Diego, for instance, about 1,000 students showed up to pet dogs at the school's Therapy Fluffies Day.

"Stress is the No. 1 impediment to academic performance," observed Jerry Phelps, acting director of wellness initiatives at UCSD, in an interview in the San Diego Union-Tribune. "We do a lot to reduce stress. These are high-achieving students who place a premium on performance. They just run themselves ragged sometimes.'

Other schools that are calling in the dogs for final exams include University of Pennsylvania, which calls its final exam stress program Canine Chill Out. Pet therapy is also part of Rutgers University's DeStress Fest. At the University of Texas at Austin, it's called Study Pause for Paws.

Of course, schools try many other ways to help students relax including chair massages, stress balls, mediation, craft projects and breakfast at midnight.

My favorite de-stresser activity just might be at Oberlin College. Twice a night at the library during final exams, students get to dance for five minutes as a song -- chosen by students in an online poll -- is blasted from speakers. Sounds like fun to me.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
Exam stress image by Lukje. CC 2.0.

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