Working Under Pressure

Academic work at MIT is rigorous.  Much will be asked of you, and many demands will be made on your time. Anticipate pressure, especially at midterm and right before the end of the semester, when assignments can pile up. 

Occasionally, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to accomplish and may be tempted to cut corners, risking violations of academic integrity that could compromise your academic career. Instead, use the resources that can help you manage your workload and succeed. Don't be afraid to ask for help! We all need it, from time to time.

Ask for help from your instructor, supervisor or TA

  • Make an appointment to talk to your instructor or supervisor or use office hours. Let him or her know you are having trouble and ask for help.

  • Talk to your TA or contact him/her via email.  TAs expect to be contacted; it is part of their job to help you.

  • Ask your instructor for an extension. Instructors would much rather give you an extension or accommodate you in some other way than see you violate academic integrity.

Get academic support

Ask for advice

  • Undergraduates can talk to one of the deans in Student Support Services (S3), who can provide advice on both academic and personal challenges as well as advocacy and consultation with faculty.

  • Graduate students can talk to the deans in the Office of Graduate Education (OGE), who can provide advice and support on a variety of issues including faculty/student relationships, academic progress, interpersonal concerns, and a student’s rights and responsibilities.

  • Talk to your academic advisor, who can provide insight and guidance and potentially advocate with your instructor or supervisor on your behalf.

  • Graduate students can talk to another student through the REFS (Resources For Easing Friction and Stress) peer support programs. There are two types of REFS available to graduate students: dREFS in departments, labs, and centers across campus; and iREFS (Institute-wide REFS), serving students regardless of their affiliation or location.

Manage your time

  • Use time management guidelines to help you plan a schedule, balance your priorities, and get tips on ways to save time. Good time management will help you stay productive, on track, and reduce stress.

Give your mind a break

  • Students often put pressure on themselves to succeed. Even if you’re used to getting A’s, that might not happen at MIT, and that’s okay. When you are feeling overwhelmed, it is important to take a break from your academic focus.

  • Stress reduction, mindfulness, and relaxation information and techniques are provided through Community Wellness at MIT Medical.

  • The Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER) provides numerous options for fitness and recreation.

  • Each day at MIT, the MIT Events Calendar lists seminars, concerts, exhibits, and all types of student group gatherings that provide an opportunity for a short break from your work.