There are two very distinct images of college life: Creating beer-soaked memories (you may not remember) with friends you won’t forget, and on the opposite end of the fun spectrum, holing yourself up in the school library studyinga and cramming until the wee hours of the morning. Both couldn’t be more different, but like socializing, sitting in the stacks with a highlighter unholstered and at the ready is an experience quintessential to the college. Studying should be our primary responsibility at school, right? Um, not according to new research on the topic.
Students are studying less and less, according to University of California Santa Barbara professors Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks. The professors’ research shows that the amount of hours a college student hits the books has progressively decreased over the past 50 years.
In 1961, the average student at a four-year institution studied roughly 24 hours a week. Students today get in 14 hours of study time a week. Regardless of the school size, school reputation, or the student’s ability level (determined by SAT scores), gender, race or major, students everywhere are studying less than generations past, according to Babcock and Marks.
Are students over studying? Or is the decrease just the result of the advanced tools at our disposal? Studying has become more efficient with the advent of so much technology in the past 50 years. Unlike our parents had to do back in the day, we don’t need to search card catalogs for books, get lost in the library on the hunt for elusive texts, or spent hours handwriting notes or pounding out essays on typewriters.
Perhaps students today have more on their plates outside of academia. Many college students have jobs outside of school and participate in a plethora of activities. In this day and age, it’s not good enough just to go to class and get good grades; our generation has been told we’re capable of great things and that we need to set ourselves apart. Students take on internships, leadership opportunities, and are involved with campus organizations. We’re busy! Students may put in fewer hours of textbook highlighting, but that doesn’t mean they’re are any less prepared or educated. Perhaps it’s just a sign of our times?
— By Ali Straka, University of Missouri