No spring break heightens burnout risks

By adviser Mar 12, 2021
IWU announced last semester that students would not have a spring break this year. Illustration: Isabel Sperry
IWU announced last semester that students would not have a spring break this year.
Illustration: Isabel Sperry

To minimize the spread of COVID-19, colleges and universities have encouraged their students to stay on campus and refrain from traveling as much as possible. However, since the semester started, commuting back and forth from home has been very common. 

Beginning in January, the Illinois Wesleyan campus has seen a large increase in students returning home for the weekends or even full weeks on end. During the week the campus is filled with students enjoying their time, but when the weekend comes along, it becomes a ghost town. 

Why are students going home so much more often than before? This mainly has to do with widespread college burnout across campus while also being heavily influenced by COVID-19. Starting a new school year with COVID-19 has been nothing short of stressful for incoming first-years and returning students alike. 

For many, learning virtually has never been done before March of last year. Students and professors quickly had to understand programs like Zoom and Google Meets to continue classes. Lessons needed to be tweaked and rewritten to fit this new form of learning, and troubleshooting was a constant struggle. 

For this year in particular, even though classes are held online, students constantly have to worry about staying healthy and abiding by campus rules. They have to juggle online classes, extracurriculars and their own health on a daily basis, while still expected to perform to the same caliber as a normal school year. 

As the school year has gone on, the workload has significantly increased while the conditions have stayed the same, thus increasing anxiety and declining mental health on campus. COVID-19 is still very much alive and a threat to on-campus students, yet the workload has grown more challenging and more constant. With back to back essays and exams, students are finding themselves struggling to eat, get good sleep and perform to their best ability under the current circumstances. This also leads to demotivation and eventually, burnout. 

The easiest way to prevent burnout is to have scheduled breaks in the semester where students can relax and not worry about their classes. However, for this school year, the school has decided to eliminate spring break altogether, a decision many other schools across the country have also made. In the height of the pandemic, this seemed understandable as an obvious method to reduce travel and minimize the spread of COVID-19 on campus. However, now that we are in the thick of the semester, the idea of no spring break is seeming less like a good idea. Instead of making people stay on campus, it is forcing students out so that they can rest and recover. 

In order for IWU students to finish the semester strong they need to have time to take care of themselves. If a spring break is not an option, there should be mental health days put in place for students to reach out to campus resources if they need help or to simply eat a decent meal. It is not the student body’s fault for them returning home so frequently, they are being put in a tough position. 

IWU says they value the mental health of their students but then assign 15 weeks of work straight with no days of rest in between. Out of a full week, students have barely two days to take care of themselves, and often during those two days, are still working on assignments that eat up the other five days of the week. The risk of COVID-19 is absolutely real and should be taken very seriously, but the mental health of the student body should not suffer because of it. 

 

By adviser

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