These days, according to a study that’s starting to freak out some education officials, college students just don’t study. And it’s not just those enrolled at state colleges, party schools, and diploma mills. It’s students at some of the most elite universities in the country.
Critics are asking whether college students actually learn anything despite the high grades they may be getting for little effort. Some universities are even instituting honors colleges and research initiatives to create a more challenging environment. What? Shouldn’t all of college be challenging?
Traditionally, educators have estimated that college students should do two hours of homework for every one hour of class. On average, one would expect 24 hours of study each week. But students are falling far short of that. In some major, architecture, for instance, students average 21 hours a week — not too far from the goal. But biology majors? They’re averaging 17 hours a week. Communications majors are clocking only about 14.
Five-year-olds enrolled in full-day Kindergarten tend to spend the same amount of time on academics as the average college student, according to a Washington Post article about this decline in studying in higher education:
By contrast, the typical student today spends 27 hours a week in study and class time, roughly the same time commitment expected of students in a modern full-day kindergarten.
The highest rate of studying happens at remote, liberal arts colleges in the Midwest.
Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and Centre College in Danville, Ky., all report more than 20 hours of average weekly study for freshmen, seniors or both.
A book published last year concluded that, on average, students at four-year colleges, including elite ones, were making few gains in terms of critical thinking. Their conclusion was that little reading and writing were expected of students, especially in the first two years of seeking a degree.
So what does all this mean? Is college too easy? Are students too lazy? Folks in higher education aren’t sure. But one thing is certain — students are paying an awful lot of money to be engaged on such a shallow level.