Work Hard, Play Hard

After reading the many statistics in “Academically Adrift”, it is not hard to see why students are not getting their money’s worth in higher education.  The fact that students are studying much less than they did forty years ago and that their coursework generally requires less reading than it did in the past is a result of gaming the system.  Both faculty and students can shoulder the blame for this.  The students are not innocent because many (not all, of course) try to do the least amount of work that will earn them a degree.  This kind of thinking comes from the idea that getting a degree is measured on a pass/fail basis.  To many students, an A average requires much more work and results in the same degree that a C average can offer.  From the faculty perspective, the trend towards giving the students less rigorous work (and therefore higher grades) comes from the professors’ desire to do well on student evaluations and receive tenure (Arum Chapter 1).  Now that I have spent over a semester in college, I have somewhat of an idea of why students may have the pass/fail attitude.  First of all, the social aspect of college seems to have grown tremendously in the last half century.  Students seem just as (if not more) concerned with their social lives than their academic lives.  Personally, I believe that a balance can be achieved and that students can have fun while focusing on the reason they’re in college.  Secondly, students generally do not schedule their days very well.  My favorite student author, Cal Newport, explains that students will not retain information very well at 11pm, so it is best to wake up earlier to do work and focus on the social aspect later in the evening.  I believe in the “work hard, play hard” model of balancing academic and social lives.  The challenge in this is deciding what ratio of work:play is necessary to do well and learn while having a good time.  


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