The Urban Review

, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 677–698 | Cite as

Understanding College “Burnout” from a Social Perspective: Reigniting the Agency of Low-Income Racial Minority Strivers Towards Achievement

  • Anindya KunduEmail author


Research indicates that health problems are becoming increasingly complex and prevalent among college students, while largely going without recognition or treatment. Low-income racial minority students may have additional personal and academic issues associated with demonstrating grit and overcoming barriers to entry (i.e. institutional racism) over the course of their lives. When the campus environment is not socially or culturally supportive of racial minority and first-generation college students, there is an added risk of mental health deterioration stemming from isolation for these students. The struggle to persist in college, and do so alone, can lead many to experience symptoms of impending “burnout,” or disengagement from academic settings. Drawing from a sample of interviews with low-income racial minority strivers—students who were once highly engaged—this paper offers insight into both causes and solutions for college burnout. Findings suggest that it is important to understand how experiences of isolation manifest to better support minority student populations and foster their academic reengagement to achieve at high levels. This paper outlines recommendations for improving the college experiences of racial minority and first-generation students, including examples of resources and recommendations to improve the higher education landscape towards more inclusivity and equity.


Mental health College persistence Grit Agency Cultural competency Burnout 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Administration, Leadership, and TechnologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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