Attending class, studying hard, learning well, these are all important for excelling in college and grad school. But there are other factors that play in to how well one does in school, and one of those is stress.
It’s not necessarily the issue you might think. Stress isn’t completely unhelpful when it comes to taking tests and performing well in school. A recent study conducted by the University of Chicago shows that the hormones that are released during periods of stress can have a few different outcomes when it comes to taking tests:
1) Students with a low working memory for solving math problems showed no difference in their test results regardless of their stress hormone release.
2) Students with a high working memory for solving math problems but with anxiety toward math scored lower in proportion to their levels of stress.
3) Students with a high working memory for solving math problems but with a confident attitude toward math scored higher in proportion to their levels of stress.
So amazingly, high levels of stress aided students that were confident in their abilities! If the effect is real, it means that it may be just as important to work on attitude as it is to work on the material.
It also means that there be many advantages to online education in terms of attitude and stress. When taking tests online, the situation can differ drastically from the usual classroom environment. If you are a student that performs poorly under stress, consider some of the advantages of tests and classes taken online:
- Outside of the classroom environment, you don’t have to maintain silence. You can think aloud, have music blaring, or shout at your computer screen!
- Taking online courses does not preclude you from doing other things. While at home, you can put in the laundry, turn on the dishwasher, or keep an eye on the pot roast, all while working on your education. Not having to worry about how and when those tasks get taken care of can relieve stress and boost your attitude.
- By taking tests and studying online, you can learn from the comfort of your own dwelling. Feel free to create comfortable surroundings with a soothing atmosphere or decorations that stimulate your thinking. You can even take tests while in bed or in your pajamas!
What works for you when you take a test or study online will vary, and it’s not recommended for everyone to split their attention when performing important tasks. But the idea is that online education offers opportunities to reduce the kinds of stress that come from an in-person classroom environment, and can make you a happier, more confident student.
If you’re a person that excels under stressful conditions, then keep up that good attitude! It just may be that positive thinking will secure you a better grade.