Stress Binge

Professors have the power to help students overcome “burnout”

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Within a month or two of the academic year, students often feel a sense of “burnout,” or lack of motivation. This feeling can be a result of  an increase in stress, exams and assignments. To manage this, students will need more support from professors at Syracuse University who can play a role in reducing the widespread feeling of being academically burnt out.

The burnout symptoms among college students this year have increased since the pandemic. Olivia Sanchez, a higher education reporter for The Hechinger Report, writes, “The long journey of the coronavirus pandemic took students through dimensions of online learning, social isolation, economic anguish, personal loss and mass grief. It resulted in psychological distress for many.” 

The adjustment from online classes to in-person classes was challenging for students, especially first-year college students. They not only had to transition from high school to a new college lifestyle, but they also had to adjust to fully in-person school, which many students hadn’t had for over a year. It’s a drastic change taking Zoom classes in the comfort of your own bedroom to being in a classroom, sitting at a desk surrounded by other students.
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Sanchez found that a survey done at The Ohio State University reported that the percentage of students who felt burnout symptoms went from 40% in August of 2020 to 71% in April 2021. Students coped with symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression in unhealthy ways with substances, lack of physical activity and social isolation, the report found. 

Burnout greatly increased after the pandemic since students got used to a lifestyle of staying inside and less social interaction. For many, there was not much else to do besides binge-watching Netflix, eating and sleeping. Unhealthy habits stemming from the pandemic make it even more challenging for students to adjust back to the social and academic lives they had before COVID-19. 

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Eva Balistreri, a freshman studying television, radio and film in the Newhouse School of Public Communications, shared her personal experience with burnout at this time in her college career. “As a freshmen, we go from 0 to 100 so quickly, so there’s so much coming at us at once and no one has taught us how to deal with that on our own. Trying to live up to the college expectation deteriorates your body and mind and easily causes unhealthy eating and sleeping habits,” she said.

In order for students to avoid the feeling of burnout, they need to feel supported by their friends, family and academic instructors especially. It can often feel as though some instructors disregard the stress that arises from being overly consumed by work. SU instructors should offer more academic support to students and be lenient with extensions if students speak with them about feeling overwhelmed. Instructors should make office hours available to students over Zoom and in person. They should also provide extra help and online resources for students to use on assignments and exams done at home.

Mental health is the most important aspect of a student’s college life, especially for freshmen, as they are still in the process of adjusting to being responsible for themselves. They can no longer rely on their parents to help them through feelings of burnout and stress, so professors and instructors on campus should work with students to keep them engaged in class by decreasing unnecessary workloads and offering extra help.

Jean Aiello is a freshman magazine, news and digital journalism major. Her column appears biweekly. She can be reached at [email protected].

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