UMN Student BurnOut
December 16, 2021
When looking at how universities across the nation had to deal with COVID and having students in school, there were only so many ways to deal with trying to provide students with adequate learning opportunities. The University of Minnesota decided to primarily focus on fully online learning, with a few classes that were offered in a hybrid setting where students were allowed to attend a few classes in person while also learning in an online environment. For most students, legitimately retaining information under last year’s environment was practically impossible. Online learning provided students with accommodations that were not available in years past. Students were able to take their classes from the comfort of their own dorm or apartment. Which ultimately would lead to students, especially freshmen and sophomores, to become accustomed to this lifestyle and learn how to take classes online, usually at their own pace at home.
Fast forward to a year later, a majority of classes are now being held in person and students are expected to immediately transition back into normal classes. Students are experiencing burn out at unnatural rates, and are struggling in their classes as well. Not providing students with ample resources to ease their transition back into normal classes has led to students having an increased amount of stress which is out of their control. Especially the freshmen class, who have not had the opportunity to experience a regular year of college, and have not been given a chance to develop the study and organizational habits necessary to succeed in college.
With finals coming up, I anticipate that students may be experiencing some frustrations with the manner in which they are being required to perform, since again a normal in person final has not been provided in over a year. Students who may experience testing anxiety, could ultimately end up hindering their grade, due to a factor that is beyond their control. While a potential solution that someone could offer is that perhaps students should just work harder and be more prepared; while that is a valid statement, living a lifestyle that is mostly revolved around accommodating your needs and doing everything from one place, to completely uprooting without any transition can lead to some student frustration.
In my own experience, I would say that the beginning of the semester, while overwhelming, went well. I had to get used to actually going to classes, and knowing how to find my classes too. However, there have been moments where I began to miss the luxury of being able to complete my classes from the comfort of my own room. Providing students with a zoom option was extremely helpful, particularly for those days where you would be so incredibly sick. Whereas now, there are some classes that do not have recorded lectures nor a zoom option, so if you are not able to attend you are unable to compensate for that missing class; which again might have been the case prior to COVID, but nonetheless it has impacts on how students are functioning.
After talking with some students, a lot of people have been expressing frustration with the participation/attendance portion of the gradebook. A lot of students claim that they had to teach themselves a lot of the material they learned last year, and now they are frustrated that they are being punished for not attending class, yet there is no Zoom option being provided. At this point, it is honestly a surprise that lectures are no longer being recorded and Zoom options are not being provided either. After spending over a year living where in person gatherings were not allowed, it would only seem to make sense to provide that additional safety net.
Overall, the student burnout that so many folks are experiencing is a result of not adequately being prepared for a semester that is completely unlike the year prior. Perhaps, the fact that it is the end of the semester might add some additional stress that was not present earlier in the semester, and students are now realizing how unprepared they truly were for this semester; if anything we can look at this as a learning opportunity and allot more resources and workshops were students can acquire those skills they need to further develop.