Zoom fatigue: College students face yet another threat to mental health

Courtesy of Unsplash | A new study from Stanford confirms that Zoom fatigue is both very real and costly.


Alyse Kaminski | Staff Columnist

I’ll be honest — it’s been hard to start the month of March without thinking of the way things were this time last year. Last year, at the end of February, I went on a little spring break trip to Washington, D.C. with two of my sorority sisters and COVID-19 was something we didn’t think would send us home from school when we got back.

I wish I was still galavanting around D.C. with my friends, excited to go back to school and live on the sorority wing and finish out the semester. Instead, for the last year most of us have been at home, learning through Zoom.

For this school year it was a no brainer whether or not I was going to come back in person. I personally wasn’t comfortable with the idea of living in a dorm amongst many other people. My mom has underlying health issues and my dad is a little bit older. No way was I sacrificing being able to see them to have a communal bathroom.

Participating in class via Zoom has its pros and cons. I can tune into class from the comfort of my own bed, with my two cats snuggling by my side and a snack nearby at all times. But in the age of hybrid classrooms, there is no doubt that the online learners have it harder.

Sometimes I can’t hear my professor because the microphone, for a reason unbeknownst to me, is settled in the back of the class instead of the front. Sometimes I find myself looking at myself on the camera more than I am paying attention to the lecture. Not to mention, the general feeling of being disconnected from my classmates and friends.

I know choosing Zoom University was my choice, but I miss how things were. I am sick of Zoom meetings.

At least I know I am not alone in this. A new study from Stanford shows that Zoom fatigue is real. People are sick of living like this. And rightfully so a year in. One thing the study found is that looking at yourself in the camera constantly has fatiguing effects, as well as having to work harder to send and receive communicative signals.

That, combined with the stress of being a college senior right now, is tough. Between worrying about the pandemic job market and aching to do work in person, I am quite nervous. I don’t know that I would succeed in a position that is remote.

My Zoom fatigue manifests itself into what could come off as laziness, but in reality, I’m just kind of depressed. It’s hard to get yourself to be productive when your bed is suddenly the same as what used to be the library for you. Seniors like me are worrying that this will be what the workforce is like.

Instead of meetings in person, getting to know new coworkers by going to the bar after work and being out of the house, those entering the real world this year might be doing so through Zoom. It’s just not the same.

Throughout all of this, I’m trying to stay optimistic, but obviously it can be hard. For any seniors, or anyone in general struggling to deal with the stress of all this, I think it’s important to remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true, especially with the vaccine being out.

There will be a day when we can learn all together in the classroom again and you can do something that used to be simple, like giving a loved one a hug. We will graduate from Zoom University at some point.