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Back to School… Turnout or Burnout?

Students Pictured (Left to Right): Emilee Asbury, Eisha Bukhari, Avery Newcom

Student burnout. When most people hear this, they think of it as a form of laziness, when someone chooses to give up on their academics.

While that can be true, there are many causes of academic burnout. At its extreme, it can force a student to the breaking point causing them to feel like they don’t have other options.

Ohio Wesleyan University students, like other college students, have had some significant disruptions over the past couple years. As a result, the need for help and resources for burnout and general mental health issues has been greater at campus services like the Accessibility Services Office.

“The numbers have been around the same but the amount of support that has been needed has increased,” said Stephanie Rowland, OWU Accessibility Services Coordinator.

College students burn out due to overwhelming workloads, and stress from parents, professors, fellow students and, more than anyone, themselves.

“With only 24 hours in a day it is hard to find time to do all the assignments, projects and studying while also being able to check in on my mental and physical health while also trying to have a social life.” said Jolie Lagger, an OWU junior.

While it may seem like the workloads have gotten heavier since the pandemic, Rowland suggests that students are just not used to managing their time as closely because they didn’t have to plan walking or driving time while they were studying remotely.

The COVID-19 pandemic made stress levels worse. In addition to regular student stress, they were forced into a bubble and restricted from interacting socially. It also made it harder for them to muster the courage to ask for help when they needed it.

“I think the main cause of academic burnout might be the fact that we fall into a routine of attending classes the same day, same time with nothing interesting occurring in between and it gets dull, doing the same thing over and over again.” said Sisi Fish, an OWU sophomore.

During the pandemic, the students were not able to let loose to relieve stress. They had to remain at home and weren’t able to separate relaxation from work because both were happening in the same place.

Classes held via Zoom required little engagement because a student could turn off the camera and microphone to avoid interaction, and claim the wifi, mic or camera weren’t working.

For example, a student could hide because the student was having problems at home or, conversely, because that person wanted to sleep through class. Once in-person classes resumed, students who had put little effort into their academic studies struggled when thrown back into regular classroom situations.

“I feel fatigued and tired all the time. I’m also stressed and anxious,” Fish said, describing how burnout has affected her mental health.

Studies have shown that the amount of university students struggling with mental health such as anxiety and depression has been increasing and negatively impacting students' academics.

While student burnout may not seem like it is a big deal, it can have harmful long term effects if it is not addressed. This is a challenge many students face and it should not be overlooked.

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