It is likely not a surprise that students (like the rest of us) experience stress. There are a lot of real and perceived pressures in college – roommates and relationships, learning new materials and trying to discern the expectations of each faculty member, social life pressures, and many students feel unrelenting pressure to deliver good grades to their parents, keenly aware that their parents are making a tremendous investment in their education. All of this can add up to stressed students.
I was talking yesterday with Dr. Jennifer Priem Johnson in the Communication department on a First Year Seminar she is teaching about stress and communications. Here is the description of her FYS:
INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION, STRESS, AND HEALTH
Assistant Professor Jennifer Priem Johnson, Department of Communication
The course will focus on understanding the effects of stress and how interpersonal communication functions to enhance or reduce stress. In this seminar, we will discuss the physiological stress response and how stress influences health. We will also examine how communication in close relationships impacts stress and how individuals can use communication to manage stress. As part of the course, students will engage a debate on the ethics of research on personal relationships and stress and create a stress management program based on current empirical research on stress.
Evidently as part of the class, students are learning about the ways different individuals experience stress (for some it is headaches, or stomach aches, or lack of sleep) and how some people relieve it (whether they feel better talking about it, or not talking at all, etc.) This sounds like a class where students are asked to look inward about themselves and their own stress points and reactions, and that will build knowledge of how to process that stress in the future, especially in how it relates to communication with others.
So while an academic class for certain, this one looks to me like it will have a lot of real-world application to help our students sense their own stressors and how to manage them, and also how to recognize that in others and be understanding of where they might be coming from. Which will serve them well for not just their time at Wake Forest – but for life.
I love the FYS program because it invites our faculty to think creatively and teach things that they are passionate about and that might intrigue our students and stretch their minds in new directions. Frankly, I wish this class had been here when I was a student!