How the GLP helped me rebuild after burnout

By Emily Kopp, Bachelor of Psychology (Honours)

As students, we are busy, there is no denying that. The fact that the rate of burnout in students is among the highest, along with the likes of health professionals, confirms it. Often times we put ourselves under the expectation that we need to get through university as quickly as possible, have a full-time (or part-time) job in our field by our second year, be a social butterfly, and engage in every extra-curricular we can get our hands on. Unfortunately, this is a lot of demand and if we are not getting enough out of these areas in terms of value, meaning, satisfaction, pay or connections, the chance of burnout is extremely high. This is what I experienced very early on in my university life, and it took me three years to regain a sense of control and meaning again. But I can only imagine how much longer it would have taken if I did not have the GLP.

I joined the GLP, like many other extracurricular activities, with the main purpose of fleshing out my resume and attempting to keep up with a cohort that seemed to do it all. But by the end of 2019, I was severely burnt out resulting in a withdrawal from my semester (in Week 12 nonetheless), isolating myself from others, and eventually changing my degree and career trajectory entirely. The only thing I did not change was the GLP and I could not be more grateful for that decision.

While the initial 'untouching' of my GLP membership was because I had forgotten it was there (partially because I had achieved minimal in terms of progress with 1 Colloquium and 10 Experiential Credit points to my name). Over the next 3 years it became a consistent motivator and resource that allowed me to get back on track. Watching the progress meter increase on Thrive each time I completed an activity was like a warm hug and it was giving me back something that I had been missing in my career and previous degree – recognition of the hard work that I was doing.

Prior to 2019, I struggled to find time for the GLP between everything else, as I can imagine many others have dealt with. One of the biggest reasons for this was because I only looked at the big Experiential Credit point codes - the exchange, the internships, being an executive and so on. These obviously all require a large amount of time and commitment, both of which I was severely lacking at that stage. Post my ‘quarter life crisis’ (as I have termed it), I re-evaluated the GLP and realised instead of a chore, it was an opportunity for continuous achievement. I spent hours on the Experiential Credit Guide looking for realistic activities that fit in with the life I already had. To my surprise, I had achieved 30 points without my awareness – being a participant in a charity event and doing a GLP-focused unit (with an international, cross-cultural, innovation or entrepreneurial focus). This trend continued and I began finding points that I could gain from doing things that genuinely interested me and would not take me more than a maximum of 1 hour a week. In addition to this, every time I completed an activity, it not only added to my progress in the GLP, but it was, more times than not, something that could add value to my resume or degree.

The GLP is designed to be done in conjunction with university and not just for those that are already doing 14 extra-curricular activities and are social butterflies (which is also great and ideal for the GLP). But take it from a socially anxious, takes 3-4 business days to reply to messages, and has been through her quarter life crisis at 19 years old – anyone is able to do the GLP and gain something worthwhile. It builds confidence, it provides so much in return in an environment where reward is often a long-term goal (i.e., graduation or a full-time career in your desired field), and it allows you a pretty great addition to your resume by itself and also with all the activities you do for it.

In terms of where I am now, since 2019, I am 10 Experiential Credit points away from completing the GLP - all of which is made up from activities that were worth no more than 20 points - and I am hoping to go for With Merit. In addition, I am now in a degree that I love with a whole lot of extra skills gained by doing activities for the GLP (e.g., a machine learning course, a coding course and so many Colloquiua that were relevant), and I am undertaking two internships with one having been advertised by the GLP.

My main message from all of this is, in a life that is most likely hectic and stressful, finding something that is rewarding is so important. For me, that was the GLP and once I stopped treating it as another thing on my to-do list and instead fit it into the life I already had, it began helping me to rebuild the academic and social life I wanted.