College Student Study Habits

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), a new report on university and college student study habits, measures the number of hours that students spend a week in their studies and other activities.  The results provide some indication of the relative difficulties of disciplines, based on the amount of time students engage in studies.

The survey shows that Engineering students study the most, while Business students study the least.  Approximately 31 percent of Arts and Humanities seniors study more than 20 hours a week, according to the survey.

A 12 credit hour schedule per semester schedule is based on the assumption that students would study approximately 2 hours per hour spent in class hour.  Thus, a 12 credit hour schedule is considered a “full time” course load, since students are expected to spend 24 hours studying and 12 hours in classes, for a total of 36 hours of coursework (roughly the equivalent of a full-time work schedule of 40 hours).

Undergraduate students today have many competing demands on their time, however.  Many of my own students at Northern Illinois University work part-time (and some of them, full-time) jobs.  The NSSE study’s data clearly bears this out.  Arts and Humanities students (including History majors) spend an average of 17 hours preparing for classes, 12 hours working, 11 hours socializing, 5 hours commuting, 5 participating in co-curricular activities, 4 hours caring for dependents.

The NSSE study is available at the NSSE website.  The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the NSSE survey and on criticisms of the survey’s methodologies.

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