Before the merriment of the holidays could begin, students around the country faced the last hurdle of the academic semester; fall final exams. Representing weeks of cramming, combined with the pressures and stresses of the holiday season, the run up to exams can be especially overwhelming. To try and cushion the dread of Finals Week, many Barnes & Noble College store managers held special De-Stress Fest events at their campus stores as a way to help bring a little festive fun and relaxation for students during a stressful time.
Mindful of the health and well-being of their students, the Saint Louis University Bookstore hosted a De-Stress Fest event just before finals began. For Store Manager Debbe Schneider, connecting with the University is essential — throughout the school year. “We’re more than just a bookstore,” she says. “Connecting with students, faculty and our administration through these types of events really helps to establish our role as a support system within the school community.”
In planning the De-Stress Fest, the bookstore turned to a department on campus that could offer their expertise and professional services. “We partnered with the university’s Student Health Services,” explains the bookstore’s Assistant Manager, Lisa Lee, “and those who visited the store were able to have their blood pressure checked, receive a free thermometer along with advice for coping with the stress of finals.”
There was also the opportunity for some light-hearted holiday fun with a photo booth and seasonal props, including reindeer ears and noses, where students could create some festive portraits to break the ice and release some end-of-class tension. “Our students are very active on social media,” Lee says, “and we asked them to like the store’s Facebook page and follow the bookstore on Twitter to tag photos of themselves.”
The store also gave out Final Exam Survival Kits consisting of handy stress balls, candy and tips on deep breathing and other techniques to combat stress. The fact that the Saint Louis students welcomed the opportunity for a little de-stressing before their exams was evidenced by the some 250 students who came through the store and participated in the event. “I think they really appreciated it,” says Lee. “They had a great time, and it gave them a break from studying and the chance to relax and have a little fun,” she says, adding the event also helped everyone, students and staff included, get into the spirit of the holidays. “I really enjoyed the Final Exam Survival Kits, and the stress ball helped with my test anxiety,” said junior Stephanie Whelan, while sophomore P.J. Simms said, “The photo booth was a lot of fun. It was good to have fun before the stress of exams.”
Hosting events like the De-Stress Fest show the kinds of partnerships college stores are developing with their campuses — a partnership greater than just the business of retailing textbooks.
Schneider and her team have forged partnerships with campus organizations such as the Student Health Department and Student Government to help build the kind of support students appreciate. Assistant Store Manager Lee sees the store as a place where students can go throughout the school year for that support. “It could be the special promotions or the sales we promote to try and save them money, or the special events we hold like the kickoff of the basketball season or National Student Day,” she says, “but in the hustle and bustle of our students’ college lives, we try to create an opportunity to take a moment with them, help them refocus and make their day just a little easier.”