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Not many students need to be reminded that Exam Week is here, but they might be pleased to know that Cougar Countdown ­– that plethora of stress-relieving activities around campus – is also here, giving students many opportunities to take quick, active, engaged study breaks without feeling like they are losing a lot of valuable study time.

Dogs on the Green.

Dogs on the Green.

The old favorites, like Dogs on the Green, yoga classes and mini-massages, are back on the docket at the Stress Relief Fair, but there are a few new activities as well, like the Oxygen Bar and chiropractors to help students explore non-invasive methods for relieving pain and stress.

“I think the best thing about Cougar Countdown is the variety of activities,” says Lindy Coleman, the director of the Center for Student Learning. “Students can find at least one thing that will help them de-stress during Exam Week. We intentionally position many of the activities near and around the library, as that is where students are spending most of their waking – and sometimes sleeping – hours during Exam Week. That way students can get up, take a quick break to get a coffee, a bowl of ice cream, pet a few dogs, do yoga and then get back to studying.”

Coleman, whose office is in the library, started the program in the fall of 2010 after seeing “nothing but bleary-eyed students sleeping at their computers all night, staying inside all day, and becoming increasingly panicked and exhausted as the week progressed,” she says. “I gathered a small group of willing colleagues on campus to see if we could brainstorm some ways to help students maintain a better lifestyle during the week.”

President McConnell serves pancakes during Cougar Countdown.

President McConnell serves pancakes during Cougar Countdown.

She lured the first students outside for some fresh air with a pancake breakfast served up by the College’s former president, P. George Benson, himself. It’s now grown into 25 events and at least 15 sponsoring departments on- and off-campus.

The collaborative nature of Cougar Countdown is one of its hidden perks.

“Many offices and departments on campus want to do something for students during Exam Week, but lack the resources of people, time or funds,” notes Coleman. “Cougar Countdown provides a common venue for any office from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Business Affairs, Auxiliary Services, individuals and local businesses and vendors that want to offer an activity or sponsor an event. This promotes widespread collaboration and communication across campus and reminds us that our common goal is to support our students.”

Now that’s something we can all take pride in.

For the full list of activities visit the Cougar Countdown website.