How many hours do you study a week? No more than five hours? Around 10 hours? Over 20 hours? If you are in the last category, you are part of a small and dwindling group of college students, according to the latest results from the National Survey of Student Engagement.
Although some professors suggest that students spend two hours of class preparation for every hour spent in the classroom – 24 to 36 hours of studying per week for a full-time student – the survey found that only 23 percent of freshmen at four-year residential colleges spend 21 or more hours per week studying.
An atrophy of study motivation is apparent as a striking 45 percent of seniors only spend 10 or fewer hours on their academic work weekly. The same survey found only 36 percent of seniors were spending that little time on their studies two years ago, indicating an atrophy of study motivation.
Some students said the complexity of college life is the main reason for the decline in study time.
“I can understand why some people aren’t studying as much because they may feel that they need to spend more time on socializing and to feel more accustomed to the university environment,” LSA junior Amar Daswani said.
LSA freshman Brad Smith said he would rather spend more time with friends and on other activities than study.
“I don’t try to know about every single little thing. … I am not looking for perfection by any stretch of imagination,” Smith said.
He added that he spends five hours or less per week preparing for class. According to the survey, 19 percent of freshmen are studying as little as he does.
“There’s a lot to do on this campus. You have extra-curricular activities and there are many different organizations and programs you can join,” LSA sophomore Chibuzo Okafo said. He added that the responsibilities stemming from extra-curricular activities cost students time that could be spent on class preparation.
Okafo’s view is shared by LSA senior Stephanie Vachirasudlekha, who is a soprano singer, business manager and publicity manager of the campus a cappella group, Amazin’ Blue. The busy schedule has left her with only five to 10 hours of studying per week, but she said the satisfaction of singing and making great friends has made up for the sacrifices.
“For me, college is not just what I get from my classes, but also from my extra-curricular activities,” Vachirasudlekha said.
To promote longer study hours and improved study habits among students, Constance Cook, director of the University’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, said professors could use “surprise quizzes” and “extra credit points” to give their students more incentive to learn on their own.
“The best motivation is to provide interesting and thoughtful assignments on the subject matter being taught,” she said.
Ultimately, no one but the students will be hurt by insufficient study time because “if students work less, they are short-changing themselves and are not learning as much as they could learn,” Cook said.
She added that with the University’s high tuition costs, “it makes sense for students to take full advantage of the learning available to them.”
The survey was conduct by the University of Indiana and was based on responses from 135,000 freshman and seniors from 613 universities.