Play-Doh, coloring books and puppies: colleges coddle students during finals week

I may sound grinch-y here; I already know it and so you needn’t repeat it below. Why, as one of my friends put it, do I have “Mr. Grump in my tummy” this fine afternoon? Because the fragility of college students, as described by Lukianoff and Haidt in The Coddling of the American Mind, has resulted in many students demanding that colleges take care of their emotional needs, as if colleges were their parents. And so the students get increasingly infantilized.

All of this is instantiated in this week’s ubiquitous “de-stressing” events on American campuses, as the impending holidays are preceded by those oh-so-stressful final exams. Well, finals are stressful, and so you need therapy dogs, essential oils, coloring books, and other toys to chill you out. Here’s a sample of “de-stressing” events on tap at some colleges (click on the screenshots to verify that these are real).

Middlebury College is famous for its Outrage Culture, and so the students need lots of coddling, including essential oils, coloring with crayons, foot massage, and play dough [sic; it’s Play-Doh®, for crying out loud!]

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has Reiki, free essential oils and tea, meditation, and acupuncture. Yes, acupuncture.

The University of Massachusetts at Lowell has chair massages, live music, chair massages (and Reiki!), and various forms of “self-care”:

Emerson College’s “Cirque De-Stress” has therapy dogs, chair message, arts and crafts (crayons!), and noms! (Why don’t they have kittens?).  There’s also a live video at the site.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha has a whole week of events, including a chance to pet dogs (WHERE ARE THE CATS?), and free candy canes and chicken fingers. This is only a small part of it:

Buffalo State has a special treat: a photo with Santa! (Remember, these students are at least 18 years old):

Cal State Northridge has a ton of activities, including a free pillow as well as crayons and coloring books, games, and the like. There’s even a Graffiti Board to “let out your angst” (there’s potential trouble there. . . ):

Now there should be some resources for students who become psychologically debilitated if they can’t face exams. That’s what the psychology services on every campus are for. But when you leave college and face a job interview, a public presentation, or some other stressful situation, who’s gonna give you a coloring book and crayons, therapy dogs, essential oils, Play-Doh, and a foot massage? Nobody, that’s who!

This is what happens when you combine the increasing consumer culture of colleges—which become like hotels to justify their high tuition rates—with an increasingly fragile and captious student population. (Read Lukianoff and Haidt to hear their reasons for the increasing mental fragility of today’s students.)

College is supposed to teach you about new things, train your mind, and prepare you for adult life, not reprise your childhood. Coloring books? Get off my lawn!


  1. John Conoboy
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    When I was an undergrad at Case Western Reserve Univ. we had 3 off campus de-stressing rooms. One was called the Brick, another the Euclid Tavern (later made famouns by Michael J. Fox), and the third was Adele’s. You could drink 3.2 beer when you were 18 back then.

    • freiner
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Holy cow! I remember going to The Brick years ago. Which is probably something I couldn’t remember the day after having gone to The Brick.

      • John Conoboy
        Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        I have not been back in years. Last time, the Euclid Tavern still existed. It had closed, but because of the attention of the Michael J. Fox movie called Light of Day, it opened up again. My favorite was Adele’s which was a hangout for bikers and all of us leftists.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          I stopped at the ET for a hot dog and beer last summer, when I was back in town and on University Circle for a nephew’s wedding.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      The ET, home of the Numbers Band, Mr. Stress, and Jimmy Ley (of Coosa River Band fame), back in the day. Know it well.

      • XCellKen
        Posted December 17, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Shortly after I moved to Houston, Texas in 1984, I was talking to some drunks in a bar. I told them that I just moved to Texas from Ohio. They asked me if I had ever been to Cuyahoga Falls. Of course. I went there when I attended Kent State University. They then asked me if I knew Chrissie Hynde. I told them that I did not know her, but I used to listen to a band called The Numbers Band, and her brother was the bass player. Then then asked if I was friends with him. No, I just know who he is.

        Well, they must’ve been really impressed, because they bought my beer for the remainder of the evening.

        Easily impressed, or really drunk !!!

    • ladyatheist
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      I think you’ve just proved the universities’ point.

    • XCellKen
      Posted December 17, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      I had a friend who received his Masters at case, but that was after 3.2 beer was gone.

      During the Summer of 1984, I was visiting him at his apartment on Shaker square. We were “De Stressing” all afternoon. I walked outside to get some sunshine. Guess who almost got run over by the Rapid Transit ??? lol

  2. Blue
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I dunno at where to begin: this mollycoddling
    of 18 – / 19 – year olds is not only angering
    to me, but this occurred this past week
    at my university’s .professional. students’
    examinations, persons likely 22 and older
    at the start of their programs: a full feast
    of foodie goods including smokies, .all.
    manner of fruit trays, beaucoup pastries’
    pies and cakes, cheeses, sausages, pizza
    slices, flavored fizzy waters and a
    carbonated punch with added green, er, minty
    ice creams. Drop in as they wanna. Munch by
    the fire and lounge within deeeep cushions.
    ALL day long.

    And, MY personal worst: AT which I was
    “required” as secretary of a department
    thereof to hostess. On MY taxpaying dime
    to this state’s governing regents’ board.

    Which gives me pause in re thus of PCC(E)’s
    statement, “But when you leave college and
    face a job interview, a public presentation,
    or some other stressful situation, who’s
    gonna give you a … … ,” WHO as well is
    gonna give you “reminders” of A Thing ?
    Even NOT – AT – ALL “friendly” reminders ?

    CERTE not your division’s SECRETARY, I say !

    cuz WHO is gonna REMIND the secretary
    to REMIND you OF WHAT you NOT ONLY KNOW and
    are charged but also is of that which YOU,
    not s(h)e, are ACCOUNTABLE ?

    Once you have been told and have knowledge thereof
    .your. duty, then I don’t, and will never,
    give reminders.


    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      My get off my lawn moments are when there is big organized party after big organized party when students come to university at the beginning of the year followed by a week off for reading week (they get two reading weeks). I was trying t remember where I was during “Welcome Week” when I was a student as it starts the last week of August. Then I angrily remembered – I was WORKING so I could go to school. Always these events have at least one bouncy castle. A bouncy castle! Then there are concerts and proper Frosch week stuff then they have school without parties for a few weeks and they are off for a week. Good grief. I notice a significant drop in students by about then though. Perhaps there are many just coming for the parties and once work. Erin’s it’s suddenly unappealing to be in school.

      Still, I maintain this is a very kind generation from my experiences with them on campus so far.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Erin’s is begins.

  3. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Here is ONE HOUR of kitty therapy with a touch of white noise thrown in!

  4. Kiwi Dave
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Assessments are an expected part of learning. I would be more stressed by colleges and student organisations using my expensive compulsory fees to pay for these frivolities.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I saw some things along this line the other day. One report stated that many of the younger generation from 25 to 38 or more are still supported by their parents even if they do not still live at home. Another report was a study done on younger ones yet, the first group that have come up totally on the smart phones we all have. They are scanning the brains of these kids and finding problems associated with living on smart phones for 9 hours a day.

    I spent my formative years 19-22 in the military with most of that overseas. I only admit this to explain why I don’t identify with these stressful needs today.

  6. DW
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    You know, I think I may be even more angry that they’re listing coloring books as “Arts & Crafts”. Every college will have some sort of Arts & Crafts club where people will get together and make things, and that’s all nice. But coloring books?!

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      There are Adult Coloring Books, but I doubt they have those in mind. Funny to look them up online.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:40 am | Permalink

        I just did but the results were very tame. Not what I expected. (And SafeSearch wasn’t on, I checked)


  7. DrBrydon
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    They act like alcohol was never invented. Who has time for this stuff during exams?

    • Rachel
      Posted December 17, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      Indeed. At the university library where I used to work, we tried setting up a self-care station for students during finals, but they told us they were too stressed/busy to indulge. They did drink all the coffee we provided.

  8. Ty Gardner
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Some of this looks student directed, but some of it looks like what I see on my campus, a Holistic Health program seeking to promote itself into relevancy.

  9. phil brown
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Adult colouring books are a thing — it’s not just coddled college kids who enjoy them. Not sure why we should be getting outraged about harmless activities. And maybe it works at relieving stress?

    • Christopher
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think it’s the coloring books per se, but the way this is being presented or the ideology behind it. For instance, I love the smell of those essential oil diffusers, but don’t care for the nonsensical idea that it’ll somehow “heal” your stress or head colds or whatever but for a university to promote play-doh…? I dunno, if that’s what yours into, fine but on your own time, like an adult. At least that’s my take on this. I mean, masturbation relieves stress too, but do unis need to provide wank stations?

      • phil brown
        Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        They are doing it in their own time — whilst on a break from their studies. People can mock it if they want, but if some students enjoy it and find it helpful, then it’s a good thing, surely? (And if you put Play-Doh in front of me, I’d definitely play with it.)

        • Merilee
          Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

          Surely Phil has a right to his polite opinion?

    • Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Please don’t tell me, Mr. Brown, how I should feel. I said that in the first two lines of my post.

  10. Christopher
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    There’s no better stress relief for finals than studying the material thoroughly and being prepared for your exams. No amount of essential oils, puppies, or coloring (unless it’s those handy biology or anatomy coloring books, for example) will alleviate stress like knowing your coursework.

    • Blue
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink



      • Merilee
        Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        +++++ You wonder if kids these days ever study.
        Though I did enjoy our one-hour midnight “spreads” during finals week in the girls’ dorm (that dates me), in which maybe 5 huge barrels of Baskin-Robbins was brought in with maybe 5 different toppings.

        • Christopher
          Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          I was what they call a “non-traditional student”, in that I was ten years older than my classmates, no friends on campus, and I was a working single parent with a two-hour round trip commute to university (please, let me tell you about stress…!) so I didn’t get to do the dorm life or the study groups. I did have books on tape for the drive, or sitting in a cafe with my cuppa and some headphones to let classical music block conversation while I read, and for stress relief I went for walks in a wooded area near campus. I’m considering returning to at least get an A.S. in biology, where l’ll be 20-25 years older and just as much of an outcast.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 16, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

            My stressed ass was at home studying. I didn’t even want to be on campus during finals unless it was to write the final. It was stressful for me to chat with people about the exam so I liked to live as an isolated hermit until it was over. I opulent even go too early to wait outside the exam room because I didn’t want to hear people talking about the exam Asma that often screwed me up somehow.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      Squaresville, man. 🙂

  11. Steve Pollard
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Grateful if someone could explain why “finals” in the US are being taken in December. In the UK, finals are what you sit at the end of your final year, ie in June/July.

    And we relieved the stress of our finals by going on an epic pub-crawl.

    • Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Quarter and semester finals.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        OK. Well, we had exams at the start of the Lent (=Spring) and Summer terms; but we called them “collections”. Even more obscure and bizarre, I suppose. But end-of-term exams only at the ends of first and final years.

        Autres temps autres moeurs, I guess.

        • Posted December 17, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          Many/most universities in the US (and now Canada) use semestered courses. This has many side effects, not the least of which is incompatibility with UK or other “year” based systems.

  12. Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    LOL. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

    What about paper bags to blow in?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      You recommending they huff glue instead? 🙂

  13. Roo
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I 100% agree on the consumer culture / tuition observation. In fact, I’m kind of in support of the students on this one. I am in my 30s. I remember sitting down with my dad and having a solemn conversation about going to a very good out-of-state grad school, because it was going to cost *over ten thousand dollars*, a somewhat shocking amount at the time. Today I’d be dancing in the streets if my niece / nephews could get through higher education on that much.

    I just think they should be more direct about it and go “LOOK, people, if I am paying you ellebenty gazillion dollars to enter into a lifetime of debt with a degree that is increasingly meaningless because everyone has one, then I expect a candy cane and for you to rub my feet on occasion!!” The college still makes out like a bandit. “Yeah, sure, whatever, here’s your 25 cent candy cane, take all you want, whee, makin’ it rain candy canes in here! Now keep those checks coming!”

  14. Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    This isn’t so much as grinchy as, IMO, gobsmackedness; there are so many other diversions at hand already at university, that these amenities are unnecessary. I believe that they exist just to pwn the previous generations.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Each generation can pick its own poison, I suppose, but when I got to campus in the early Seventies, we couldn’t wait to drive the last nails into the coffin of in loco parentis. Last thing in the world we wanted was to have the school administrators standing in the stead of Mommy & Daddy.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:48 am | Permalink

      You said it, mate! 😎

      (I went to Engineering School, which at that time (in Auckland NZ) was located beside an airfield 20 miles out of town with a live-in hostel beside it. The Hostel Warden lived in a house a quarter mile away and it was mutually understood that he did not wish to know unless the hostel actually caught fire, which suited us fine).


  16. Serendipitydawg
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I strongly suspect that a therapy cat’s attitude would be “get a grip, and open the damned food can, loser.” (though George just said “zzzzzzzz” when I asked him what he thought)

    • Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      I also think that cats would refuse to take part in this abomination.

  17. grasshopper
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    There are lines we should never cross, particularly when we use colouring books.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Ouch! 🙂

    • Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Enough with your coloring-outside-the-lines shaming.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink


  18. Mark R.
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Who needs coloring books when there is weed! And others have mentioned alcohol. C’mon kids, get a grip!

  19. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Who knew “de-stressing events” could be so superstitious and stressful for skeptics? (Well, yes, pretty much everyone that has seen business culture. But schools are supposed to know better!)

  20. Mark Joseph
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    But when you leave college and face a job interview, a public presentation, or some other stressful situation, who’s gonna give you a coloring book and crayons, therapy dogs, essential oils, Play-Doh, and a foot massage? Nobody, that’s who!

    Hitting the proverbial nail squarely on the equally proverbial head with the thrice-proverbial hammer!

    • ladyatheist
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Presumably by then they have enough pennies saved up to provide themselves with something relaxing on their own.

    • James
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      Mommy and Daddy show up at job interviews and other work functions. It is becoming more and more frequent.

  21. Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see public universities promoting reiki and acupuncture.

  22. Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t stress reactions evolve to give better performance in a challenging situation? It would be interesting to test whether relieving stress in these ways hurts or helps students’ test scores. My guess is that it hurts their test scores. Perhaps students are really just going to goof off rather than improve their test results.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Better that they goof off with puppies than at a bar!

  23. CAS
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    At Caltech, most of us reduced stress by studying our asses off…

    • John Conoboy
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      And by watching Star Trek.

  24. Klapaucius
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Whatever happened to just getting stoned and turning the stereo up to Disaster Area volume levels?

  25. Laurance
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m an old fart now, but back in 1962 I was pregnant and going to Penn State. My husband was in the Air Force and was away for some time, so I stayed with my family and went to class.

    And then I went into labor and delivered my baby girl (who is now a marvelous middle-aged step-grandma). My mother and sister came to take me part way home. Part way, because they dropped me off at Penn State to go and take one of my finals (I didn’t miss any of them) while they took the new baby home. (I forget how I got home, did I walk? or did someone come and get me?)

    Ummm…nobody provided me with play-doh or puppies or coloring books. (OTOH, we had a wonderful big black cat, and I have pictures of the baby at four months or so looking at the cat with great interest.)

    I’m concerned about all this delicacy. I’m reading the Haidt (and the other guy) book about this fragile generation, and I sure hope people wake up and go back to letting children go free-range and learn to manage their emotions. (And I’m glad to hear that my little step-great granddaughter is being raised in a more sensible manner and given the space to learn to cope with reality.)

  26. Barry Lyons
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Funny (and sad post). I just tweeted it accompanied by this: “When did college students become such wusses?”

  27. ladyatheist
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    During finals week one year I ground my teeth so badly I couldn’t open my mouth. Perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if I could have spent time with a puppy!

  28. andrewilliamson
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    This post & comments strikes me as a flashmob of curmudgeonly groupthink.

    I’m generally on board with most of the criticism of the unhinged left and I usually feel pretty right of center relative to the center of gravity of WEIT’s comments section.

    That said, I see a huge difference between preparing safe shelters in response to a visit by Christina Hoff Sommers, say – pretending she’s a danger to people and their fragile psyches – and colleges offering fancy de-stress events during finals.

    Sure, these sound more sophisticated than the many hosted “study breaks” we had when I was in school, but it sounds pretty nice, actually. Getting to pet puppies? Cool.

    • Roo
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, yes, when I was in college everyone just got drunk to de-stress (although I never found finals particularly stressful, but I guess some people do.) So teaching healthier habits at a young age is probably a good thing.

      On the other is a sense that an elite fraction of privileged Westerners are having an experience that is *so different from that of others on the planet that it makes them a sort of swooning Victorian elite. I was reading a story today about detention camps in China. I mean, China, a *relatively modernized country that is the 2nd largest economy in the world – and if the stories are to be believed, they sweep up entire Muslim majority towns, pull out teeth and fingernails, and throw people in prison where they essentially go to die after months or years of torture. Elsewhere in the world, adults of the same age are given play doh to cope with the trauma of a math test.

      I know you can play the “somebody else has it so much worse!” game with anything, and it doesn’t always apply. That someone else was just in a car accident doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat a broken bone because hey, comparatively it’s not so bad. That said, I think this is coming up more specifically *because the far Left seems to have difficulty relating to the lives of even the average American in working class settings, much less people from other cultures, and there is a sense – at times, not always – that they are making decisions and hurling out judgements from this type of ‘bubble culture’. I think it speaks to larger frustrations about a ‘no skin in the game’ culture of decision making.

      • andrewilliamson
        Posted December 17, 2018 at 5:57 am | Permalink

        “a sort of swooning Victorian elite.”

        Well, yes. This is a consequence of fewer children and wealthier parents. One’s genes often now ride on one child, so no price is too high. Elsewhere, people lack the money or have too many children to support such a lifestyle.

        That said, it only follows that the pressure on said only child must be much higher than it was on child #4 in the past, for whom there was less doting and fewer dollars spent.

        It is entirely rational, then, that the children of today feel more pressure to succeed than those of previous generations. Plus, the internet shows them exactly what the pinnacle is, whereas in the past, there was for more of a disconnect – you weren’t as directly in competition with the universe.

        “given play doh to cope with the trauma of a math test.”

        That’s not what I read in the notices posted – it’s about taking a break during a stressful period, not about coping with trauma.

        Anyway, I get and even agree with most criticism of the fragility of today’s youngins’. I was just pointing out that I don’t think fancy study breaks are a good example of that.

        It just struck me that what I was seeing was a sizable majority of posters – some of whom are probably paying for said study breaks by choice in order for their offspring to succeed in the competition of life – grabbing a pitchfork because they heard someone say “she’s a witch!”

        • Roo
          Posted December 17, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

          That said, it only follows that the pressure on said only child must be much higher than it was on child #4 in the past, for whom there was less doting and fewer dollars spent.

          Oh no. It was plenty high, because your parents were going to murder you if you screwed up in college. And if one of your siblings screwed up, that was also, in some sense, ‘on you’, to do that much better to make up for it. (That said, even then I still don’t relate to people finding finals so stressful. It’s like when people say “the holidays are so stressful!”. I mean, yeah, there are things I would rather be doing than studying or trying to untangle 20 strings of lights, but I would call it ‘this is boring I’d rather be doing something else’ more than ‘stressful’. Maybe that’s just me though.)

          I agree this one is mostly harmless, it’s only in the bigger picture that it grates a bit (Are these same students as exquisitely sensitive to the needs of others as they are to their own? Because if not, that’s the definition of being spoilt.) As I said upthread though, given the prices students pay for college these days, I think they have the right to demand amenities on sheerly financial grounds. But I see mostly eye rolls here, not pitchforks. I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s like the old joke that every generation tells the one after “Bah! Kids today! When I was a youngin’ I walked 20 miles in the snow with no shoes to school! Uphill! Both ways!”

  29. Jon Gallant
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    I have a hunch about these bizarre rites. I suspect that the ideas behind all this—the coloring books, puppies, play-doh, and so on—do not come from the students themselves. I bet that they emanate from administrative boondoggles that are the “therapeutic” counterparts of the innumerable “Diversity” offices, busy inventing more and more silly ways to justify (???) their existence.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      I have a child in kindergarten,
      : colouring books, play-doh, (pluche) puppies etc., I’m only missing the dummies (pacifiers).
      “Regressive” is the operative term indeed.

    • Diane G
      Posted December 17, 2018 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Makes sense to me.

  30. Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    When I was in college planning cards was a big stress reliever. Bridge, hearts or gin were the most popular. Good break.
    I did that and drank coffee. Coffee mainly kelp me going and got me through it.

    • Diane G
      Posted December 17, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      You otter be proud.


      • Posted December 18, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Verily much, think you. I am very ploughed.

  31. James
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    We drank, played Halo, and beat the stress out of each other with wooden and PVC swords. Perhaps not the healthiest ways to cope, but effective, and we didn’t need some idiots arranging it for us. That latter part needs to be stressed here: spontaneous expressions of community and activities that arise organically are always going to be superior to those ordered and controlled by others.

  32. Merilee
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    A friend and I used to get out our sewing machines and make ourselves new clothes in between studying for exams. Not for everyone, but it really worked for us. I remember even making a wool coat sophomore year.

    • Blue
      Posted December 17, 2018 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      W H O A !, Ms Merilee ! F A B U !

      A woman with a stabbing needle:
      … … NOT, Stress, with whom to t r i f l e !


    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 17, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      You were a real wild one.

      • Merilee
        Posted December 17, 2018 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        🤓Made lots of mini-dresses.

  33. Jonathan Dore
    Posted December 17, 2018 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    I remember from later teenage years that the process of becoming an adult was something I aspired to, enjoyed, wanted to make the most of. Now it seems the aspiration is to extend childhood — to carry on into your twenties and thirties reading comic books instead of novels, listening to 3-minute pop songs rather than getting to grips with symphonies, fiddling with lego and playdoh instead of learning how to hang a door or wire a plug, always deferring the assumption of adult responsibility to some indefinable point in the future. Unfortunately, deferring it too long seems to make it impossible to achieve.

    But, since the essentials of human personality are unchanged from one generation to another, it must be the parents who are mainly to blame. By trying to insulate their children from even mildly challenging experiences, they’ve made them unable to rise to a challenge, in a perfect metaphor for the way the reduced exposure to harmful bacteria has given rise to ever more varied and intense allergies, undoing the resistance to disease built up by millennia of hard living. As family size diminishes (in itself a good thing, and long overdue) the intensity of protection that parents focus on each child will continue to intensify, which means, worryingly, that this is a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon.

    • Blue
      Posted December 17, 2018 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      +1 and, indeed, “worryingly,” Mr Dore.
      I am that, as well !


  34. Rachel
    Posted December 17, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    When I was at Smith, we had midnight breakfast and the primal scream, where we all stood outside at an appointed time during study week and let loose a … primal scream. It was cathartic.

    I work in higher ed and I have mixed feelings about all this. On the one hand, yes, it’s a little coddling, and some of it is excessive (Reiki, for example). And no, it doesn’t prepare them for the real world, but it’s still nice to pet a well-behaved dog or be served pizza when you’re stressed, and they’re still just kids.

  35. Pray Hard
    Posted December 17, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Maybe warm milk in baby bottles should be provided also. Make sure versions are provided for the lactose intolerant. Oh, wait, all they tolerate is soy. Never mind.

  36. Posted December 17, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I have no problem with destressing activities so long as the appropriate degree of evidence is presented for each (and the official sponsorship is limited to those with decent evidence – no acupuncture!)

    One thing that CMU used to do which I think makes sense is have faculty for example put on the “almost midnight breakfasts”. They recognized that an elite school like that people will stay up to do stuff (study, complete projects, etc.) but they should at least be fed well.

  37. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Sheesh, couldn’t any of them have anything that actually *works*. Like, say, valium?


    • Merilee Olson
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      I once stupidly (naively) had an eye exam (my first) the day before a physics test. I didn’t know about the dilation and practically had to stand up on my desk to get far enough away from the textbook. Didn’t work very well. Then a friend suggested a caffeine pill to keep me awake all night once my pupils went back to normal. Made me so jittery I couldn’t sit still. I don’t remember my test results being exemplary…I don’t think the dilation drops I get once a year now are anywhere near as strong.

      Typo ergo sum Merilee


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