So close, yet so far: A look at college student burnout

With the end of the school year and warmer temperatures arriving, the stress of the season triggering a lack of motivation to complete school work starts to creep in for students leading to burnout. 

The World Health Organization website defines burnout as: a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
  • Reduced professional efficacy.

“Burnout is a state of complete mental and physical stress and exhaustion. It’s an aching pain that starts off slow, like not attending class every day, but it grows into a roaring beast that consumes everything in your life not just school,” computer science major Avery Leveque said.


The struggle to not only keep up with classwork but to also keep up physical, mental and emotional health is something Leveque said she is familiar with. 

“[In] high school I didn’t even have to try, it came naturally and, if there were struggles, the teachers were understanding. Here the professors are not as helpful and there is hardly any personal connection to the professors in any course and sometimes it’s really demotivating,” Leveque said. 

Pressures like being a first generation college student and having an important scholarship combined with a fear of failing classes are what’s keeping students motivated to go to classes and do assignments, she said.

“My friends are my biggest motivator though. If it weren’t for them, I’d probably drop out and run away to live in the woods,” Leveque said.

She said another large motivator is looking forward to summer activities. Instead of just quitting school when the end of the semester is nearly here, the better mentality is to think that we can enjoy those activities once we don’t have to worry about school.

“A lot of STEM professors aren’t compassionate unless something major happens to you, but since switching to computer science from computer and electrical engineering,  the professor I’ve had this semester has been more understanding and open with her students, especially me,” Leveque said. 

Art education major Izzy Brukhardt said the workload is a lot in her program because of projects and hands-on learning as classes are geared toward what students will be hopefully doing in the future. 


“Burnout is when I work hard for a certain amount of time in order to succeed in a specific area but end up jeopardizing my mental health in the process, thus making it harder to succeed past that,” Brukhardt said. 

Because of the depletion of motivation, falling behind in assignments and not attending class is a lot easier to fall victim to at the end of the year or semester than at the beginning, Burkhardt said.

Music education major, Jasiah Draper said, “I’d say burnout is just not caring about how you’re doing in a class, whether you’re doing well or not. You just want to get it done.”. 

Fear of having the lowest grades of my class and being bullied by my classmates as well as disappointing my parents with bad grades are huge motivators to continue to show up and do assignments, Draper said.

“My college workload is a lot more consistent than my high school workload. Along with that, the assignments are generally longer,” Draper said.

As easy as it is to just give up, we’re almost there, so finishing strong will be much more rewarding than quitting right before the end, Leveque said.

Staff reporter Carolyn Dickte [email protected]. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.