UBCO students are exhausted at the end of another virtual term during a pandemic. Online burnout is felt significantly more than when school was in person, especially due to the increase in screen-time where it is not only homework that needs to be done online, but also Zoom lectures, exams, paper-writing, research, studying, etc, not to mention the stress of keeping up with pandemic-related information. The Phoenix reached out to students to find out how they feel at the end of this difficult semester. The virtual burnout is real and tangible even though online courses feel the exact opposite of real. Although students are far apart right now, it is comforting to know we are all struggling through the end of the online term together.
Many students shared their disappointment in the quality of their education during this virtual semester,
“I’m disappointed in how professors managed this year and I’m clueless as to how I’m gonna get into graduate school because I can’t even do research. The worst part was that I felt so alone and that I thought I was the only one who felt this way. But you aren’t alone.”
“Had to teach myself a lot of the content this term. Term 1 was so much better and had so much motivation and would literally look forward to studying. I can't even process the fact that term 2 is almost over and here I am with zero motivation, anxiety, sleep deprivation and a lot of procrastination. I really don't feel like I learnt anything this semester and that most of the profs had also become super lenient about everything and just did not care.”
“Terrible, profs are loading too much coursework”
By contrast, one student shared,
“To be honest it wasn’t all that bad. I could go at my own pace and get things done based on priority.”
However, this student was an outlier compared to the other responses. Most students feel overwhelmed and exhausted. In fact, one student went into detail about their experiences,
“In December of 2020, I hit one of the biggest (metaphorical) walls of my life. I could not focus on my school work, had a full semester’s worth of work to catch up on, and absolutely no motivation to do anything. Most days, I was stuck in bed, barely able to open my laptop to attend lectures, and surrounded by the junkyard that was my apartment. For the first time in my degree, I was effectively taking 6-7 courses and managing extracurriculars that took upwards of 10 hours/week of my time. I also had just come off taking 3 courses in the summer. All of this, while trying to manage an 84% GPA (which I had raised from a 78% in the last year). With everything on my plate, plus my poor mental health, I felt like I was going to need to choose between my own well-being and completing the term. Without the grace of my professors, my personal support network, and the longer Winter break, I don’t know how I would’ve made it to this term.
Despite that, I still hit another wall in the second term. Somehow, my classes and extracurriculars got more intense than the last term. In some ways I still feel burnout now — that I’m back to where I was last term, attempting to choose between my well-being and my GPA. I just miss my friends. I miss going to The Well between classes, or having study marathons with friends in vacant classrooms during finals. It’s much harder to get through school when you feel isolated from your community.”
Moreover, when asked how students are feeling at the end of the semester, many replied with burned out or various synonyms that describe these overwhelming feelings of exhaustion,
“Very tired. Burnt out. Significantly more burnt out than the end of last year.”
“Depressed and anxious.”
“I just want it to end - I’m tired of this sh*t.”
“It was tiring but manageable.”
“Burnt to a crisp and reburnt from burning out.”
“Ready to get out. I am set to graduate this Spring and although it is scary to be out of the academic sphere, I am ready to take time for myself again. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is probably one of the only things keeping me motivated enough to push through my classes. Otherwise, I think I would have just dropped off the face of the Earth by now. Although, not getting to walk the stage is actually bumming me out pretty hard. In some ways, I really envy the people who took the year off. I wonder if their mental health is in a better place because of it. At the same time, I’m also happy I pushed through so that I can graduate this Spring and move on with my life. I love everything that UBC has done for me thus far and I can’t want to use everything I’ve learned in the ‘real world.’”
“Like I just don’t care anymore because I am so exhausted.”
Clearly, UBCO students are enduring this stressful time together. These comments are extremely relatable and I have also struggled with keeping all of my metaphorical plates juggling in order to prevent them from shattering.
University and student life is not easy. Online school does not make it any easier, albeit some professors have provided more leniency while others have not. As students, we just need to keep doing our best--despite the circumstances.
I would encourage students to rely on the little things that bring them comfort, whatever that might be. For me, it has been going on walks around the block, eating tasty foods, and Facetiming my friends. Needless to say, it has been an overwhelming year. Remember, your health is more important than a letter grade. Be kind to yourself this end of term and exam season.
UBCO students should also consider making use of the wellness resources UBCO has to offer: