With Drake University moving its spring break to the end of January, students are struggling with burnout as they try to get through their mid-semester slump.
To combat burnout among students, Drake has installed meeting-free days. However, professors are not required to enforce these days and may still choose to hold class or assign work.
Ella Schulte, a first-year at Drake, said her semester has been “a little chaotic” and has been hard with not having much downtime. With all virtual classes, Schulte said she struggles to find downtime even with meeting-free days and wishes the days weren’t optional for professors.
“It’s hard not having much downtime besides weekends,” Schulte said. “I often find myself having a hard time finding a balance.”
Many students have said they wish the meeting-free days were on Mondays or Fridays, rather than in the middle of the week, so students can have a long weekend.
Molly Mullen, a sophomore at Drake, said she has started to feel unmotivated and unproductive at this point in the semester and feels the university needs to give students a break.
Mullen said only a few professors have utilized meeting-free days and still assign work those days leaving her feeling overworked and unmotivated.
The decision to move spring break was made so students don’t travel throughout the semester, decreasing the spread of COVID-19.
“I know they don’t want people to go back and forth, but we need a break even if it’s just one Monday off,” Mullen said. “It would make a huge difference and people would be able to recover from working for so long.”
With few in-person classes and the safety protocols of COVID-19, students have had a hard time distinguishing when they are completing schoolwork and when they are living their own lives.
Kyle Tekautz, a junior at Drake, said students are pushing themselves with no break and no time for themselves. Between virtual learning and the stress of the pandemic, students have difficulty separating a healthy school life and regular life balance.
“Sometimes, with no break, it can feel as though we students are constantly stressed and need to be continually working on something and it can be a vicious and toxic cycle,” Tekautz said.
Tekautz said he also feels deadlines for schoolwork and student organizations are “slipping through the cracks” because students don’t have any time to “recharge.”
Even students that are all virtual and living off-campus or at home have been feeling burned-out. Rebekka Rantanen, a sophomore at Drake living at home and completing her semester online, said she thinks working academically for a long period of time can “easily result in burn-out in students” no matter the major.
“Without some kind of academic break, students are overworking their brains and are receiving material overload from their classes,” Rantanen said. “This can ultimately result in burn-out, mental health issues, and worsened grades.”
As the semester continues with only meeting-free days, students continue to push through the challenges of virtual learning and COVID life on campus.