Many students will make use of Higher Education libraries and campuses through the holidays, so why not encourage them to enjoy themselves and have fun while they study.
Ah, the Christmas season. Time for mince pies, presents, decorations, turkey, and choking down a brussel sprout or two so it all counts as healthy. It's the perfect reason to take time off and get away from the hustle and bustle of work, giving yourself a chance to destress and come back in the new year refreshed and revitalised.
... But anyone with experience in Higher Education (HE) knows this doesn't ring true for students, where critical exams and assignment hand-ins are the norm for the start of the second term. During my master's, I got my textbook out in the living room on Christmas day, swatting discarded wrapping paper and a drooling dog off the couch so I could revise while seeing my family. While it might not be as busy as the lead-up to third term assessments, a HE library will still see plenty of diligent (and stressed) students racking up studying hours over their winter break.
Luckily for students, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are always coming up with new ways of reducing stress and fostering a sense of community, as well as offering the chance to add a little festive flair. Here are a few of our favourite ways to brighten up a holiday spent on campus, and you can add your own in the comments below!
1. Casual tea and coffee meetings
It might sound simple, but giving students a room where they can have a hot drink and a bit of a chat at a set time could keep spirits high. For example, Cambridge English Faculty Library has Tea@three. It's the perfect way to reward dedicated students and remind them that they're not alone. It's also easily adaptable for the winter break; cake could be swapped for mince pies or something else more festive.
2. Animal rooms on campus
Nottingham Trent University had a micropig room. The University of Exeter, Birmingham University and Bristol University, and many others had puppy rooms. It's well-known that animals can relieve stress, plus, who doesn't want more cute things in their life? Events like these can help students to relax and enjoy their time on campus rather than being back at home for the holidays. Rudolph and the other reindeer on campus would certainly bring some Christmas spirit!
3. Accessible study rooms
Students and staff registered with the University Study Services at Warwick University may book these accessible rooms online. The website has a description of what each room offers, from sensory objects to accessible software, so students can pick the room that will be most helpful to them. Even though libraries tend to be a good environment to study in anyway, options like these mean everyone can feel welcome in the library and work somewhere suited to them.
4. Keep students up-to-date on local seasonal activities
It can be tough for students who are spending the holidays studying rather than going back home. Although the library is great for working, it also offers a way for students to find information on things they could do during their time away from revision. Many universities will have pages on their websites dedicated to shopping, entertainment and activities over the Christmas and New Year periods, but physical information in the library makes it easier to spot for students who might not have found these pages online yet.
5. Put up some decorations
For students living on a tight budget with limited space, decorating their accomodation might not be the priority. However, festive spirit and studying don't have to be mutually exclusive; decorating the library can help make a nice, warm atmosphere for the students sticking around and indicates the progression of the term itself to the holidays.
6. Offer sweet treats
Putting a bowl of festive snacks out for students to grab is a nice, simple gesture which can brighten up a day of studying. You could go for something more seasonal, like candy canes, or keep it simple with boiled sweets or mints.
We love the creativity and warmth HE professionals demonstrate when they want to make life easier for students. This article has barely scratched the surface of what different insitutions do! We'd love to hear more about how you make life easier for students who are studying hard and are away from home during the winter holidays, so feel free to drop us a comment below!
About the Author
Tess Pilgrim is a Digital Marketing Executive at CLA and is glad to have her stress-free Christmas holidays back after completing her MSc Marketing in 2016.