Experience with Academic Burnout [Column]


Credit to Violet N

Illustration by Violet Newton

Exhausted. That is the word I would use to describe the way I feel about the last four years of my life. And the biggest contributor, school. Honestly, school makes me feel like my brain is on fire half of the time, I can’t even go to sleep without thinking about all the homework I have looming over me or the fact that I have to get up in the morning and run on only about six hours of sleep. All of this has been rinse and repeat every weekday for nine months for the last four years of my life. 

I really started to notice my feelings of exhaustion from school during my junior year. I was so stressed with the workload of all of my classes on top of going to work almost every other day. School started to become my most dreaded part of the day, and even with my four classes, I still dread coming to school. I don’t fear not being able to do the work in front of me but I loathe the fact that I have to do it. Even now that I like all of my classes, it’s still hard for me to want to be in them. The worst part of it all is I still feel like I haven’t done enough to get into the colleges I want to get into. 

The biggest fear I have is that I’ve done all of this work and it’s still not enough. I know that I’ve done the work and I’ve done my best to have good grades and have something to show for it, but that shouldn’t be the point of school. Students shouldn’t have to feel like they have to burn themselves out just to go to college. Going to school is important and worth it but it feels like I’m not going to school to learn, I’m going to school to get into a “good” college and only memorizing what I need to for a good grade. 

Sometimes I feel like I’ve only learned how to cram and how to guess well. I rush until the last minute to do everything because I’m so overwhelmed and exhausted. Only taking four classes this year is probably the only way I would have been able to work, do homework, and apply to colleges. 

But the problem is, not everyone can have a lighter workload like this and I think the best way to make students feel less exhausted and more enthusiastic about coming to school is to allow for more flexibility. If we are able to have more time to work and actually understand the work put in front of us, it would make school feel less like a chore and more like something we actually look forward to. I love learning but being under constant pressure and moving from topic to topic in the span of two weeks makes it feel like I’m not really learning and I’m just trying to survive.