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Academic Burnout Amongst WT Students, and Ways They Cope.

By: Johnny Lawhon

 

Original Image By: Johnny Lawhon


The words ‘Academic Burnout’ are often on the minds of many college students, and the ways that students deal with this phenomenon can become vital tools to get through coursework semester after semester.

Many people have heard the term ‘Academic Burnout’ and how it relates to college students. According to an article written by Michele Sprofera for O’Connor Professional group “Academic burnout is a concerning condition that involves more than just being drained from pulling an all-nighter or frustrated from working on a project for hours on end. While the term “burnout” has become loosely associated with feeling stressed and tired, academic burnout refers to an extended period of mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.”

Right now, as I am writing this article, I am realizing that I am suffering from academic burnout, and I am feeling symptoms at this very moment. I am sitting here trying to write an article about academic burnout while experiencing academic burnout, and it is making me think about what I should do to be able to get through this hard state of mind. I sent out an anonymous survey at the beginning of this semester asking other WT students if they have ever experienced academic burnout, and what they do not only to cope with academic burn out, but what they do to avoid it as well.


Original Image By: Johnny Lawhon


I received 28 responses to the survey, and students talked about coping skills such as working out, drawing or reading a non-academic book, or just getting off campus, taking a rest day where you don’t do anything and just relax, doing stuff you love to do like playing video games and hanging out with close friends and family, and even drinking alcohol. One survey response had these statements, “I just try to not think too much about it. Life is too short to be worried all the time over school” and “It is not a life-or-death situation, so it shouldn’t be treated like one”. It appears that some students at WT do have some coping skills when it comes to academic burnout, and at least one student tries to look at academics as not a life ending situation.

This leads one to wonder what are the true effects that academic burnout has on college students, and are there ways to avoid it altogether. Junior Plant School and Environmental Science Major, Kendra White spoke about her experiences with academic burnout, and she talked about how sometimes when she is burnt out, she literally feels like she doesn’t want to do anything, and personally she usually just wants to stay in bed and not even get dressed for the day. But when asked if she has any coping skills that help her to avoid academic burnout, this is what she had to say.

“So, I only do homework for a couple of hours, and then I take like a couple or three-hour break. So, then I’m not just piling it all together and trying to get it all done at the same time.” White said.

Although Academic burnout does seem to be a reality for some students at WT, it appears that there are ways that students do try to get past it or try to avoid it altogether. Senior and Small Business/Entrepreneurship Major, Preston Downard says he has also experienced academic burnout while studying at WT. He talked about how last spring he was taking master classes and he was working and he was also on the WT bowling team as well, and at the end of it he just felt dead. However, Downard also said that there are ways that he does try to avoid getting to the point where he feels burnt out.

“If I can get things done ahead of time, I definitely try to do that. If I have questions on things, I like to make group chats in my classes. That way, I don’t have to rely on just knowing the information, I can ask questions and get some help and that is very good.” Downard said.

More and more it is appearing that there is hope to try to deal with the symptoms that academic burnout brings. The suggestions of students, and the realization that course work is not a life-or-death situation, brings the idea that academic burnout is real, and it can be overcome or avoided altogether. When it comes to being in the middle of a burn out it is important to keep in mind that it is just a temporary situation and all emotions do eventually pass. One WT student talked about what she does when in the middle of a burn out.

“Breathing. Just stop for a second, and take a few breaths. I also kind of just pep talk myself, to remind myself of the end goal, and that it’s a requirement to get there. So, I just have to push myself through it.” Junior and Pre-nursing Major Lezley Cummings said.


Original Image By: Johnny Lawhon


After hearing from other students at WT, I find myself feeling hopeful that I too can overcome academic burnout, as this is not the first time I have felt this way, I have proven to myself that burnout is just a temporary situation. Someday this semester will just be a distant memory, and the way that I feel now will change. My own personal experience is no matter what I’m going through, there is always a brighter day just around the corner. So, if you are a student who is experiencing academic burnout, just remember that academic success is not a life threatening situation, and it is okay to allow yourself to rest in-between your studies. There is definitely a light at the end of that metaphorical tunnel.


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