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  • Joanne Jacobs

College students don't study, say classes are too hard

Most four-year college students don't spend much time studying, yet complain that classes are too hard, according to a recent survey by Intelligent.com.


"The vast majority of students (87%) say they have felt at least one of their college classes was too challenging and should have been made easier by the professor," the site reports. Math was the hardest class, followed by science.


Photo: cottonbro studio/Pexels

Most said they responded to adversity by studying more or asking the professor or a classmate for help, but "8% say they filed a complaint against the professor, and 17% dropped the class."


In addition, 28 percent have asked a professor to raise their grade, and 31 percent say they've cheated to get a better grade.

Students have lofty ambitions: 81 percent plan to pursue a graduate degree.


But of the 64 percent who say they put "a lot of effort" into school, one-third spend less than five hours a week studying or doing homework. Another 37 percent spend six to 10 hours a week on schoolwork, 16 percent spend 11 to 15 hours, 8 percent 15 to 20 hours, and 5 percent more than 20 hours.

"We’ve normalized a college culture where students imagine that studying 10 hours a week constitutes a full week's academic work," writes Rick Hess, who directs Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.


He points to NYU's decision to fire a professor after some of his organic chemistry students "signed a petition saying the course was too hard and their grades too low." The professor said many of the students didn't study enough.


The problem isn't new, writes Hess.

A decade ago, in “Academically Adrift,” NYU sociologist Richard Arum and University of Virginia sociologist Josipa Roksa raised concerns when they reported how little work many college students were actually doing. They found that students were spending, on average, only about 12 to 14 hours a week studying, a decline of about 50% from a few decades earlier. . . . a third didn’t take a single course in a given semester that included more than 40 pages of reading per week.

"Treating college as an expensive multiyear holiday isn’t good for students, colleges or the taxpayers who subsidize much of this activity," Hess writes.


College graduates with wobbly math skills, a weak work ethic and a tendency to complain are an employer's nightmare.


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