Suzane Nazir uses a Princeton Review SAT Preparation book to study for the test on March 6, 2014 in Pembroke Pines. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A recent study may be putting the “you should study three hours per credit hour” motto to rest.
According to the National Survey of Student Engagement’s findings, the average student spends about 17 hours each week preparing for classes. Preparation for classes includes homework, reading and any other assignments.
“There’s the reality of how much students study,” says Roger Mancastroppa, associate director at the Academic Skills Center at the University of Richmond.
He says the classes a student is passionate about may not require as much time as others, but the reality is that students are not necessarily studying 45 hours a week. Mancastroppa says this is because coming out of high school, students have been taught that memorization is the best way to achieve success.
Mancastroppa’s helps students start thinking and studying using more of a critical thinking model rather than memorization.
Zayna Williams, a sophomore pre-nursing major at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, says that she studies at least 15 hours every week at this point, which is just below the average of 17 hours for health majors, according to the NSSE’s study.
“Coming from high school studying was memorization,” Williams says. “In college you sit and memorize things, but you realize that memorization won’t help.”
She says she realized she needed to learn the material long-term, rather than just learning it to pass an exam.
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Carl Thum, director of the Academic Skills Program at Dartmouth College, disagrees with the general rule of thumb of studying three hours per credit hour.
“You shouldn’t be paying attention to ‘If I put in this much time then I’ll do well,’” Thum says. “A much better question is ‘What are you doing before and after class to prepare for class?’”
The study also included how students spent the rest of their time outside of studying through extracurricular activities, jobs or service in the community.
Seana Mohr, a senior social work major at the University of Central Florida, says she spends about 12 hours per week doing work outside of the classroom, below the average of 14.4 hours. She says most of that is writing papers, not traditional studying. She disagrees with the study’s findings that those majoring in social services “spend less time doing volunteer work than you might expect.”
Mohr says that some of her classes require a set amount of volunteer hours for the semester. This past spring, she spent her time outside of the classroom working 30 hours and volunteering 20 hours each week.
Both Thum and Mancastroppa agree that extracurricular activities and organizations outside of school are essential to the college experience.
“College isn’t a preparation for life,” Thum says. “College is life.”
Thum says learning how to study, deal with roommates and navigate campus are all important aspects of being a college student. He says maximizing the experience includes learning to work with other people, whether it’s athletically or artistically is important.
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“For many students, learning how to balance your time and your commitments is part of growing up,” Thum says.
Amanda Baughan, a junior at the University of Miami majoring in Spanish and computer science, says she spends about two hours studying and doing work for each of her classes, falling under the average of 18.2 hours per week for computer science majors.
“I spend more time on computer science because I find myself getting tutors and going to study groups because it’s challenging material,” Baughan says.
She has managed to find a balance with her schoolwork and extracurricular activities. She says she spends between four and five hours doing her activities and her sorority takes up more time because of its requirements.
“I wouldn’t say that taking computer science classes mean that I have no life outside of studying,” she says. “I definitely feel like I have a very good study-life balance.”
Mancastroppa says that it all comes down to time management and being able to schedule whatever needs to be done so that you can be present in whatever the current activity is.
Thum suggests that students do their work earlier in the day and review material every day to make sure that they are really learning and applying the material.
“We all know things well not because we did them once. It’s because we did them repeatedly.”
Kathy Pierre is a rising senior at University of Florida
academics, Kathy Pierre, study, study skills, VOICES FROM CAMPUS
Did you know that roughly 40% of college students in America are non-traditional students? Many college students now may be working full time, have family/military obligations, and many other obligations that make finding time to study difficult. While in school, you need to ensure that it is a top priority, but we understand that it can be difficult. To help you successfully manage your coursework, remember these tips.
Study Tips for Busy College Students
1. Always Prep For Tomorrow
By preparing for tomorrow, you will be able to make the most efficient use of your time to complete your homework. Create a checklist (see #10) of what you need to accomplish the next day so you can jump right into the work and save time.
2. Create Study Groups
This may seem like a thing of the past, but there are still major benefits to creating a study group. Advances in technology, like Google+’s Hangout feature, allow you to video chat with up to nine people at a time, so you can hold study groups regardless of your classmate’s location.
3. Establish a Routine
Setting specific time for school work will ensure that you stay on top of assignments. Make sure those around you understand when your study time is so they can allow you to focus on earning your college degree without distractions.
4. Find a Quiet Space
Preferably you should separate yourself from any distraction at home so you can focus on your school work. If needed, find an alternate location such as a local library or coffee shop, in order to give your homework the full attention that it deserves.
5. Have a Backup Plan
Computers always seem to crash at the most inopportune moments. Your backup plan should include saving a copy of your files on an external drive, in addition to knowing where you can go get onto another computer in order to hand in your assignments.
6. Maintain a Master Calendar
For many classes in college, you will be assigned major projects that may be due later on in the quarter. Using a calendar to stay on top of these projects is the easiest way to not fall behind. Many online students can utilize a course calendar in the virtual classroom to plan ahead in order to complete these projects on time.
7. Stay Organized
Staying organized is something that many college students struggle with. Organize your class materials and homework by using folders both on your computer and for any printed materials. This way you can best utilize your study time by avoiding a long search for your documents.
8. Stay Positive
Learning is an activity that pushes us beyond our comfort zone. This can be frustrating, so do your best to stay positive and remember why earning your degree is worth all the hard work.
9. Take a Break
For those times when you are stuck on a problem or have been studying for a big test, remember that it’s okay to take a short break. Step away from your computer to take a walk or get some fresh air to clear your head; this will allow you to come back refocused.
10. Use Checklists
Many college courses have weekly or sometimes even daily assignments that you need to complete. Use checklists to ensure that you are staying on top of completing those assignments on time. As you complete each one, feel the satisfaction of checking off each assignment from the list.
What other homework tips for college students do you know about? Share them in the comments below.