Q&A: Sophomore counselor Katie Ball offers advice for finals, stress

Julianna Poe, Online Editor-in-Chief

Q: Julianna Poe, Online Editor-in-Chief

A: Katie Ball, sophomore counselor


Do you see an increase of students in the counselor’s office during finals this time of year?

“We see a lot of increase of students the last couple of weeks of the semester as they’re preparing to finish, trying to figure out what they need to work on, what they need to turn in, how to prepare for finals, things like that. We do see an increase of students, yes.”


How do you help kids handle stress and finals?

“A lot of times the biggest thing is time management, so trying to encourage students to put technology away, put phones away and really figure out what’s the priority and what they need to focus on first. A lot of that starts with communicating with their teacher, and making sure they understand what assignments can still be turned in. If they have assignments that are missing, what exactly they need to study if they’re taking a final, an actual final exam, like a test or if they’re doing a project and how much time they think they’ll need to do on that. So a lot of times the biggest issue is scheduling the time to get the work done and to study for the finals.” 


Do you have any specific strategies that you prefer to recommend?

“A lot of students struggle with … going home after school and having the time to work from … 3:30 through the evening, so I encourage [students] to block off time … to focus on this subject or this assignment for this time period, but take a break, then get back to it. It’s kind of daunting to think about working on homework …  from 3:30 to like 9:30, but if you can block off times, block off when you’re going to work on assignments, sometimes that can help with your evening and not making it feel like you’re not sure what to do and how to structure it.”


How much do teachers and counselors work with each other during finals weeks?

“Quite a bit. I’ve emailed quite a few teachers this week, trying to figure out what students can do, what they can work on, what can be turned in. But really, I try to encourage the student to do that first because I think it comes better to the teachers when they hear it from the student and know that the student is advocating for themselves and that they really are trying to finish the semester strong and they really have the intent to try to do well. So I feel like it comes better from the student but we will definitely step in and help contact teachers if the student needs help doing so.”


How do you want kids to handle grades that they don’t like during finals?

“If their grade is not where they would like it to be at this point, again, I would talk to the teacher, see if there’s something that can be redone or edited, or something that hasn’t been turned in if it can still be turned in and see how flexible the teacher is on taking those things … Again, if there’s a final, making sure that they’re well prepared for that because doing well on that final could make the grade go up as well.” 


Do you have any stress management tips during finals week?

“Most students want to maybe stay up all night, of course I don’t recommend that. I recommend still making sure students are getting enough sleep and eating right, not drinking a lot of caffeine. [It] might seem like the right thing, but it can actually make you more tired in the long run, and eating lots of sugar can actually make you crash, so I always encourage students to still get enough sleep, still eat healthy [and] don’t drink too much caffeine … Again, just being prepared and organized a lot of times can lower the stress level. So, if you can kind of plan your days and hours or evenings ahead of time, it can actually reduce your stress because you know what’s coming. If your day is not scheduled, it tends to be more stressful.”


Is there anything you want kids to know about grades, finals, stress?

“If students are struggling, obviously there are lots of resources in our school. There’s lots of teachers that will stay after school and help; they will come in early. There are counselors here if they do feel overly stressed and they want someone to talk to. We also have … social workers, nurses, lots of people in this building that want to help them finish the semester strong so if they need something they can definitely reach out to us, but I always encourage students to push for one week and then you get two weeks of rest. So, do the best they can for the last week, and then the rest over break and then we’ll start January fresh.”


What’s the best way for students to contact a counselor?

“Typically the best way to see a counselor is to just go to that grade level office and if the counselor is available, they will see them. If the counselor is busy, then they will get back with them as soon as they can. So, just stop by the grade level office.”