A recent study of 3,000 college students revealed that 45 percent of undergrads showed no significant gains in learning after two years. After four years, the number improved to 36 percent. Researchers also found that undergrads spend half their time socializing and just 16 percent in class or studying. The List ventured to the campus of George Washington University, where tuition, room and board tip the scales at $52,000, to ask students to evaluate the findings in light of their own learning and study habits.
Bio major rejects study, except for business majors
Ben Lin, a sophomore, says he’s learned a lot and spends 40 percent of his “waking hours” studying. Lin points out that some students, like business majors, aren’t required to study as much. “They take, like, introductory classes that are easy A classes,” he says. He adds diplomatically, “That’s just one outsider’s opinion.”
Freshman admits to “aimlessly hanging out” instead of studying
Max Steininger calls the study’s findings “fairly accurate” based on his experience. “Everyone’s supposed to be studying, but we’re all just sitting around,” he says. A potential American studies major, Steininger gets to class “for the most part,” though he admits “the early morning ones are difficult.” He has no plans to increase his 10-12 hours of studying a week. “I think it’s working out for now,” he says.
Freshman logs low hours studying but gives the first-year experience high marks
Chelsea Weldon, who is interested in management and marketing, says the hours she spends studying vary, but “right now, it’s probably close to those” in the study. Asked what she has learned in her first semester at GW, Weldon replies, “I can’t really name a fact off the top of my head,” but adds that “I guess, like, the whole experience of coming to school has been cool.”
Study really concerns a biology/psychology major
Though sophomore Lauren Byrne finds the study “really concerning,” she thinks it might not be giving enough weight to learning that happens outside of the classroom. Living in D.C. has been an education for Byrne. “I was never really exposed to politics growing up,” she says, but as part of her job, “I got to deliver invitations to Congress once.”
Triple major says she’s learned at lot at GW, like the importance of sleep
Sophomore Kelsey Nyland, who is studying geography, environmental studies, and geographic information systems, says her freshman psych class taught her that sleep is important. Her sleep patterns are “much better now,” she says. “I think I get eight hours a night, which is good.”
Student defends coursework, points to changed views on Israeli-Palestinian conflict
“I took a couple of classes that really changed my perspective,” says sophomore Tania Hashem, who has dual U.S.-Palestinian citizenship and was exposed to views on Israel that aren’t popular in Palestine. “I think I’ve grown because of those classes.”
First-year invests time in the classroom of D.C.
Lisa Fisher says she puts in two or three hours a day studying but much more when the topic interests her, like in her art history class. “I’d read the textbook for fun,” she says. Fisher spent the weekend enjoying D.C.’s museums. “I had a three-day weekend,” she says, “and I went to a new museum every day. And it was free!”
International affairs major credits college with helping him grow as a thinker
“I feel like I was so naïve in high school,” says sophomore Julio Ortiz, 19. His classes have changed “the way I think and the way I approach things.” As for studying, Ortiz puts in a modest 5-10 hours a week but is headed back to the library presently. Is it full of young scholars? “Well, right now it’s empty,” he says.