2010 October 10 Sunday
College Students Study Less Than They Used To

40 hours per week going to class and studying was just too hard. 27 hours per week opens up more time for sports, video games, parties, and of course seduction.

Using multiple datasets from different time periods, we document declines in academic time investment by full-time college students in the United States between 1961 and 2003. Full-time students allocated 40 hours per week toward class and studying in 1961, whereas by 2003 they were investing about 27 hours per week. Declines were extremely broad-based, and are not easily accounted for by framing effects, work or major choices, or compositional changes in students or schools. We conclude that there have been substantial changes over time in the quantity or manner of human capital production on college campuses.

WTF? I'd like to see these results adjusted for IQ or quality of college (mostly the same thing). Is the decline in hours studying due to more students of lower quality going to college? Certainly the percentage of the population going to college in 1961 was a lot lower than it is today.

On the bright side, few majors really teach job skills. So if students do not study as much there's little long term economic harm. I wonder whether students in economically important majors still study as much.

Check out how students spend their time. Has the percentage of time spent working gone up?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 October 10 10:56 AM  Education


Comments
GP said at October 10, 2010 7:03 PM:

I'm surprised its even 27 hours per week. I probably averaged 10 hours a week including classes I attended and I did fine.

Dave in Seattle said at October 10, 2010 7:38 PM:

Make K-12 school year-round, with no pay increase for educators, and you don't need college.

Engineer-Poet said at October 11, 2010 6:38 PM:

That assumes that K-12 teaching staff is able to teach a college-level curriculum.  All signs are that their ability to teach a K-12 curriculum is not consistent.

kurt9 said at October 12, 2010 3:43 PM:

I went to college in the 80's and the only people who studied 40 hours or more per week were the enginering, pre-med, and pre-law students. Everyone else studied significantly less than 40 hours per week.

Randall Parker said at October 12, 2010 5:37 PM:

Dave in Seattle,

K-12 year round doesn't address the tendency of schools to teach very slowly for the dumber students. The smarter students need a fast track no matter where they are. For that we need technology.

We can use recorded lectures and online study material and practice tests. The high schools could help by offering proctored tests for college-level courses a few times a year. Anyone who sits for the tests and passes them could get college credit.

no i don't said at October 13, 2010 2:18 PM:

"College Students Study Less Than They Used To"

Of course, many students now have to work full time to start paying that "financial aid" now grown into an endless debt that will go on for another 20 years.

Public higher education in the U.S. should be free, -as it is in most countries in Europe and Latin America, where it is considered a constitutional right-

Oh, but I forgot that it is just to "socialist", right? So... never mind.

Mike said at October 13, 2010 4:04 PM:

No I don't

I partially agree with you. I doubt students are any lazier than they were 20 years ago, it's mostly that they are doing more part-time work.

However, there still far too many people getting expensive degrees which don't benefit them or society financially.

Arguably what's needed in the modern west is a more focused three-tier tertiary education system: academic/professional universities with high standards for the top 10 percent, no frills technical colleges providing practical skills for the majority, and inexpensive community colleges for the academically curious interested in personal development (there's plenty of surplus graduates who could run these dirt cheap from vacant office buildings).

The community colleges could thus serve as primers for going to college, or simply as inexpensive ways for those interested in broadening their horizons to do so without getting into debt. Basically these could revolve around college tutorial style lessons, where you do the reading in your own time and you have the option of doing assignments or tests which you pay to get marked. If you only want to turn up for the tutorials and socialise then all you need to pay for is the reading material. All the government would pay for is the building rental and basic operating costs. Sending people to university who aren't going to be able to pay back their loans is bad for both the students and for society.


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