As clouds of smoke from Ventura’s Woolsey fire forms in the distance, Pasadena City College (PCC) student Tanner Petterson sits in a shady spot on the edge of the mirror pools and waits until her afternoon class begins. She has ten minutes to spare, but instead of worrying about her class, she browses her phone and acknowledges the early golden hour. Meanwhile, a student on the other side of the pools lays on the grass, glued to a textbook, skimming through notes.

It’s the middle of November and Californians already have a lot from this month to digest. With the tension of the divisive 2018 Midterm elections ending, the bar shooting in Thousand Oaks and the subsequent wildfires destroying cities, there’s one thing that Californians need: a break.

Peterson recalled one of her classmates saying, “‘I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone in L.A. had some form of anxiety.’”

While the world is mourning for the loss of victims and communities devastated by the mass shooting and the wildfires, PCC students are settling in for the long month of November to finalize and submit their University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) applications and begin studying for their final examinations.

Needless to say, these unfortunate and unexpected events combined with upcoming academic deadlines may raise the already high levels of stress and anxiety for PCC students.

The pressure is on for those applying to UC’s and CSU’s for the fall 2019 semester; students have until Nov. 30 before the deadline closes.

Perfecting an application in college may prove to be more debilitating than in high school. Students that are applying to public and private institutions may struggle with writing all of their essays in a timely manner, especially if they have a job. If a student has not developed any good-standing relationships with professors or advisors on campus thus far, finding the best person who can write a letter of recommendation could be a demanding task.

On the other hand, the UC’s and CSU’s require students to have completed 60 units before transfer, which must contain courses that are transferable and fulfill general education and major requirements. Without the help of a college counselor, students may toil with putting together an education plan and taking the necessary classes.

Last week, Petterson was thrilled to finally submit her application to CSU Long Beach, her top choice. Just before she clicked the submit button, Petterson was informed that she needed two more classes until she can be eligible for transfer.

“I guess I have one more semester here, and I thought this would be my last one,” Petterson said.

When the application season ends for California’s public universities, finals week at PCC will be just 10 days away.

PCC student Jackie Ruiz expressed that her school-related anxiety lies in whether or not she will pass her classes in December. Students rely on final exams to make or break their grade.

“I still need a year or two left so I’m not really worried about applications, it’s mainly about passing my classes,” Ruiz said.

Like Ruiz, PCC student Gregory Calva is uneasy about his final exams in a month’s time. In his freshman orientation, Calva learned about the different services that PCC offers to help alleviate depression and anxiety during these stressful times.

“And I feel like (for) some people who have depression, a big problem they probably have is reaching out, asking for help … most people don’t want to admit it,” Calva said.

PCC is more than ready to accommodate students battling depression or anxiety, but as Calva mentioned, it is the responsibility of the student to ask for help.

“… I once went to Psych Services to go see a therapist. They are really helpful,” Ruiz said.

Counseling appointments are free at PCC. Personal Counseling, located in D-203, provides students with individual counseling and crisis intervention.

“Just speaking to people,” Ruiz said. “Usually what gives you anxiety is all these thoughts in your mind, so I mean talk it out with someone so you can get all of your questions answered.”

Student clubs and organizations across PCC share similar priorities as finals week draws near. Associated Students, which represents the student body of PCC, is planning a Finals Relaxation Night in the Student Center several days before final exams begin.

Like other students who try to be as stress-free as possible, Calva enjoys streaming Netflix, watching Youtube and listening to music in his down time. Drawing, however, is Calva’s favorite activity for releasing the mental strain of schoolwork.

Hotspots for on-campus relaxation tend to be the mirror pools, the library and the student centers. Petterson maintains that the Colorado Boulevard campus relieves her anxiety through its incorporation of nature.

“I think [the campus] can provide a lot of environmental wellness,” Petterson said. “It’s really nice to sit outside and try to collect yourself. I like the nature that’s around, (and) that’s why I’m sitting outside right now.”

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