Students grapple with heavy workload that has negative effects on mental health – The Buchtelite
Many students, including myself, felt let down by the weight and effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the campus reopening this fall, some students are struggling to maintain sustainable and realistic lifestyles.
Some students are affected by the current US labor shortage, leading them to feel obliged to work longer hours, take more shifts, and put schoolwork aside to help organizations stay afloat. Others feel the wrath of soaring inflation in the economy, which is driving up the cost of everything from housing to food.
And yet some are struggling with COVID-19 themselves. From contacting the actual illness to missing work and classes to losing loved ones due to the illness or the need to become a caretaker.
College students are working in multiple jobs this semester to keep up with the cost of living while balancing heavy course loads, internships, organizational obligations, and more. While the dark cloud of COVID-19 is still in the air over us, many have found that their mental health is struggling.
Senior Kara Devola
Graphic Design Major / Illustration Minor (Image via Kara Devol)
Abigail Stopka, a senior public relations major, has worked long days and nights, juggling three jobs, and a full course load.
“This semester, I work about 30 hours a week for Spectrum technical support from 1:00 pm to midnight, and usually stay up until about 4:00 am to catch up on my homework after work,” said Stopka.
She also has classes all day Monday and Wednesday until 6:30 p.m. and on the weekends she works as a DJ at WQMX in the mornings while she finds time to do the underwriting work for WZIP.
“Fridays are my only days off, but I’m usually so busy that I often play catch-up or sleep all day instead of enjoying myself,” said Stopka.
When asked about her mental state, she said she was doing better than last semester.
“Before the semester begins, I really have to prepare myself mentally for what’s coming. Sleepless nights, stressful appointments, trying to keep information … it’s hard. My mental health is a roller coaster ride during the semester. I can easily fall into depression in busy weeks, but I’m pretty good at picking myself up. “
Stopka also shared that there isn’t a lot of room for decompression sickness in this lifestyle, as their short free time is often spent catching up on errands like grocery shopping, cleaning, and doctor’s appointments. Last semester, she found her grades had suffered, and while her days seem to be full this semester, this fall she took fewer classes and a few hours off on one of her jobs.
She has been hit hardest by the current economic climate, so she worries about turning on her heating this winter.
Stopka struggles the most with gas, groceries, and utilities, as her gas bill has already doubled and she has yet to turn on the heat in her small one-bedroom apartment.
It also addresses the labor shortage in the community.
“I like going to cafes to do homework and a lot of them close early or even completely,” she said.
As a glimmer of hope, Stopka shared what she’s most looking forward to when things have calmed down and she has less on her plate.
“I can’t wait to just live and be alone. I think the hardest thing about this lifestyle is that my time is committed to everyone but me. I can’t wait to wake up one day and have absolutely nothing to do, ”she said.
Junior Isabelle Nutt
Studio Art Major / Psychology Minor (Isabelle Nutt)
For most college students, graduation means they’ll take on more, but for Stopka, the thought of just having one job will be a breath of fresh air.
Her advice to students who are in a similar situation this semester is to just keep going.
“As difficult as it is, it’s all temporary. Every semester and every class is one step closer to the goal. “
John Albrecht, a senior electrical engineer who is taking 15 credit hours this fall, is excited to see people on campus again this semester.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has resulted in most of my courses staying online this semester, but being on campus for a bit has really helped my mental health. It’s so nice to see so many people on campus again. “
While Albrecht is currently not working, he is actively looking for jobs for his upcoming graduation date. On the weekends, he finds time to relax, watch YouTube videos, or work on projects he enjoys and has nothing to do with school.
Due to his heavy course load, the few hours of extracurricular activities are not enough for him, so that he only has about 12 hours a week to concentrate on himself.
Albrecht is most looking forward to the next phase of life after graduation and concentrates on finding an ideal job. He encourages students who juggle a heavy workload so that their time counts.
“Make sure you are invested in everything you do,” he said. “Whether studying, relaxing or hanging out with a friend. Distractions take away the moment. “
Laney Miller, a senior third year public relations student, has juggled more than most this semester.
As a member of the dance team and two student organizations, with a minor in marketing, a job and internship, full-time studies and an ambassador for the university, her fear went through the roof.
“My mental health is never good during school,” Miller said. “I could spend hours studying and still feel unprepared or forget something. In addition, the senior year is even more stressful, with the constant thought, what do I do after graduation? She said.
She feels that COVID-19 has affected the college experience the most for her this semester in particular.
“I’m happy to see that they are running some events rather than none, but with the university’s reduced budget, they have gotten rid of some of the things that need to be done Save money and I have the feeling that students do it for us, ”she said.
As for her grades, Miller shares that she would rather be sleep deprived than get a bad one.
“This year I submitted a paper too late and was disappointed with myself,” she said. “It was 4 in the morning and I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, I just fell asleep. I usually stay at the top of my grades, but my mental health doesn’t benefit. “
To relax, she likes to journal and put all her thoughts into words, especially when she is feeling excited.
“Sometimes I have total nervous breakdowns, cry on the bathroom floor, but honestly, sometimes it really helps me to get it all out,” Miller said. “I also try to treat myself to a day for myself once a week when I don’t have to worry about work or school. But in some weeks there is simply not enough time. “
When things settle down for Miller, she can’t wait to just hang out with her family for a day. Your best advice for students in their shoes? A planner.
“You need a planner,” said Miller. “You have to write things down, otherwise you will forget things. A planner will keep you organized and help you meet all of your deadlines. “
Second Marc Smith
Painting & drawing major
Minor in illustration
The work of art is called
Representation by two artists
face their emotions and
Doubt that someday
they consume. (Image via Marc Smith)
Personally, this reporter takes 13 credits this semester including a 6 credit internship where I work about 21-25 hours a week. I also work part-time for a bank 20-25 hours a week and work as a reporter and social media editor for The Buchtelite.
The inflation of things like gasoline and food is having a serious impact on me this semester and I would work more if I had the time. The increased cost of everything is starting to affect my budget.
My mental health is fluctuating, but I’ve found that my depression and anxiety are currently at all-time highs as I try to juggle my workload – especially as I near my graduation date in December. I know that I am not alone with my anxiety after graduation and that I am constantly worried about what to expect next.
Like Stopka, I look forward to some “me-time” the most. When I have downtime during the week, I’m constantly scared of forgetting something or feeling guilty for watching Netflix instead of preparing for the week ahead.
I think the most important thing for anyone else who is having problems right now, regardless of your situation, is that this too will pass.
The University of Akron provides free and confidential personal, career, group, and educational counseling to current students, both in person and online.
There are also other 24-hour community services available to everyone including, but not limited to, the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK), the Crisis Text Line (text START at 741-741) , Portage Path Psychiatric Emergency Services (330-762-6110), Portage Path Psychiatric Assistance Hotline (330-434-9144), and more.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health problems, there are ways they can get help.
Remember, you are not alone, and I think I am speaking on behalf of everyone here at Akron University when I say your persistence and resilience are exceptional. We are so proud of you, please keep it up.