Ask the Dean


Ask the Dean is a weekly column by MTU’s Dean of Students, Dr. Wallace Southerland III, where students can submit questions for him to answer. To submit a question, email [email protected]


Q:”What advice do you have for MTU students dealing with burnout?” 


October is mental health awareness month, so this is timely. Burnout is real! The dictionary defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Burnout can happen to any student: those struggling and not struggling, the best and the brightest, undergraduate and graduate, full-time and part-time, residential and commuter, traditional-age and contemporary-age, the minority and the majority, and others.


What can cause students to burnout? A lot of things such as poor time management, family, relationships, workplace, volunteering, raising children, taking care of loved ones, juggling competing academic and non-academic responsibilities, travelling, etc. – and I have seen it all. But you know what else can cause burnout?: trying to please people, worrying about making others happy, or trying to be something or someone you are not.


Huskies, you DO NOT have to suffer from burnout unless you have health conditions beyond your control. I believe that burnout is often the result of the choices we make. My best advice for MTU students dealing with burnout is to STAND…IN…YOUR…TRUTH! As you stand in your truth, “HuskyUP!©” and DO the following:


  1. Accept your limitations as a human being. You do not NEED an “A” in everything. You do not need to be perfect at everything. You cannot please everybody.


  1. Embrace your faith or spiritual practices that keep you grounded and healthy.


  1. Terminate relationships that no longer add value to your life.


  1. Listen to music that inspires you and speaks to your soul.


  1. Do things that make YOU happy and STOP apologizing for it.


  1. Manage and structure your time so you complete essential tasks first.


  1. Manage your medication if you take any.


  1. Meditate.


  1. Embrace saying “no.”


  1. Live well. Recharge well. Connect well. Play well.


Tech’s and society’s current realities are such that students can no longer rely solely on clinical therapy to deal with burnout. You will need to become more resilient, self-reliant, and creative as you make your health a priority. Embracing these lessons now will help you in the future.




Dr. S.


Dean of Huskies