Feb 19, 2019
A Fresno State student holds their coffee while at the university's Henry Madden Library on Nov. 27, 2017. (Daniel Avalos/The Collegian)

Caffeine, finals go together like peanut butter and jelly for some at Fresno State

In the next few weeks, university students across the country will stock up on scantrons, barricade themselves in the library and fuel up on caffeine as they prepare for finals.

But are some Fresno State students too dependent on caffeine to keep them awake? The Collegian took to campus grounds to find out.

Bill Her, a fourth-year English education major, said that cold brew is go-to stimulant to get into study mode.

“It’s a bit better than coffee because it’s more concentrated and cheaper. It’s just water and you grind the beans yourself,” he said.  

Her said that playing games and taking a cold shower have also helped him stay awake, but he has never depended on coffee to stay alert.

For Saerina Baisdon, sophomore speech pathology major, and Sarah Verheul, junior speech pathology major, a stop at Starbucks is a daily routine.

“I’ve been known to get Starbucks twice a day,” Baisdon said with a caramel macchiato in hand. “And then it’s something I like to drink while doing something I don’t like to do, study.”

Baisdon adds four shots of espresso to help her power through her study schedule. Though she’s tried energy drinks, she prefers coffee, she said.

“I feel like I’m more awake,” added Verheul, who had ordered an iced coffee. “It’s kind of like a motivation. I’ll come here, get Starbucks, then sit down to study.”

Sara Vidiro, the shift supervisor for the Henry Madden Library Starbucks, said that while the store has a consistent influx of students, the upcoming Dead Days week as well as finals week are the busiest times.

Vidiro has worked for Starbucks for 2 1/2 years. She said she’s worked mainly closing shifts during finals weeks and noticed the shop would fill up before closing at 9 p.m.

“People would rush in because the library closed at midnight,” she said. “They would try to get their last fix of coffee before we had to leave.”

The Henry Madden Library Starbucks report a 10 to 12 percent increase in sales the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of finals week. Vidiro said that the on-campus shop’s lower prices also drive students in.  Vidiro said students tend to purchase caffeinated drinks.

“They add shots to their frappuccinos, if frappuccinos are their favorite drink, or they try to get Americanos or shaken double shots which have the most amount of caffeine,” she said.

Shaken double shots have five shots of espresso in a venti (large) drink, while the Americano have nothing but espresso shots and water, skipping sweetness altogether.

But caffeine intake is not limited to coffee. When asked on Facebook, many students said energy drinks like Red Bull help them remain awake. Other stick to products with no caffeine.

Pazao Yang, a junior majoring in social work, has tips for fellow students: “Snack on fruits (apples and grapes are my fav) not chips and dips. Drink plenty of water. I also take 5 [to] 10 minute breaks, get up and walk around. Caffeine [doesn’t] work for me… taking small breaks in between works for me.”

Other Fresno State students said they try to plan ahead of finals weeks to avoid cramming and to prevent themselves from unnecessary exhaustion which could inhibit their performance on exams.

Summer Al, a fourth-year double-major in mathematics and biomedical physics, said she usually aims for healthy sleep and eating habits. “So that I don’t lose my focus during the actual exams from the exhaustion/hunger,” she added. “I also avoid drinking coffee before an exam; the caffeine makes me more nervous.”

Other students shared caffeine alternatives such as green tea, naps and walking breaks to help fellow students reboot during long study sessions.

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