How Do College Students Spend Their Time?

A common question asked by parents, student, faculty and staff is “how do college students spend their time?” Because a lot of them do not seem to be spending all the time needed in classrooms or on their school work.

…it is recommended that students spend 5.14 – 10.29 hours on education activities each day.

Heading off to college is one of the most exciting experiences in a young person’s life. The idea of furthering their education, gaining independence and making new friends all make college life appealing. Naturally, there is some stress and anxiety involved as well. Students wonder how they will manage the course workload and how they will support themselves financially. Whether you are a future student or a parent, you may be interested to know how many hours college students study per week – is study really as all-encompassing as you think? Read on to find out more.

How Do College Students Spend Their Time

Of course the focus of college is gain a quality education that will set students up for a successful future. Classes, focus groups, exams and assignments all play a significant part in the educational experience, so it may surprise you to discover that this isn’t where most students spend most of their time. A study by the Bureau of Labour Statistics found that in a 24-hour period, students only spent 3.5 hours on educational-related activities (1). It is important to note that this figure includes classes as well as extra time spent on assignments, homework and exam preparation. The University of Michigan – Flint recommends that students spend 2-3 hours of study for every credit hour each week (2). So let’s do some math.

1 course = 3 credit hours = 6-9 hours of study each week. Approximately.

Full time students undertake 12-18 credit hours each semester, therefore the expectation of time spent on extra homework and study is anywhere between 24 and 54 hours each week. Seems like a lot. And remember, this is recommended homework and study time, you have to factor in the actual 12-18 hours that students spend in the classroom. This brings the weekly total to somewhere between 36 and 72 hours! The Bureau of Labour Statistics released their findings based on a 24-hour period, so if we alter the guidelines from a weekly figure to a daily one, it is recommended that students spend 5.14 – 10.29 hours on education activities each day. These results make it a fair assumption that students are not as time-laden with their educational responsibilities as they make out to be. So where do college students spend the majority of their time? And can they find more time to focus on their studies. Keep reading.

How Long Should I Study – Where is Time Spent?

It will come as no surprise that the majority of time in a 24-hour period is spent sleeping, around 8.8 hours. Sleep is important so it is probably worth leaving that time as it is. So are there other areas that students could decrease the time spent in order to optimize their study time?

The chart below highlights the results from the BLS Time Use Survey, showing that the other two sizeable chunks of time are spent on sport and leisure, and work related activities. The former probably comes as no surprise, after all, isn’t college also about having fun? The work factor adds a great discussion point. Many students need to work to support themselves financially, even full time students, so quite often it will take priority. To ask students to cut their work hours may not always be possible. Likewise sport commitments may also be difficult to decrease. Sure, it is probably safe to say that time spent watching television could be less, but realistically, with only 24 hours in a day, there is only so much a college student can get done.

How Much Time Do College Students Spend on Social Media?

While the BLS results included an ‘other’ section, it is not clear what type of activities this may include. It is reasonable to consider the use of mobile phones and social media in this category (although it may also fall under leisure activities). Either way, it is no doubt a large part of a college student’s life. With mobile phones often acting as an extra appendage in the hands of young people, the results of an online survey conducted by Baylor University offers the following information;

“The students reported spending the most time texting, with an average of 94.6 minutes a day. That was followed by sending emails (48.5 minutes), checking Facebook (38.6 minutes), surfing the Internet (34.4 minutes), and listening to music (26.9 minutes).” (3)

This same study concluded that women use their phone a hugely time consuming ten hours each day!! Their male counterparts spend almost eight hours. This is a lot of time. Of course people need to use phones to maintain communication lines and relationships, and emails may often be school-related, but it certainly gives some good for thought when it comes to effective time management.

Average Time College Students Spend Studying

Naturally some subjects are more time consuming than others. Equally, there may also be a difference between first year students and seniors. Results from the National Survey of Student Engagement shows that various course majors spend different amounts of time on extra homework and study.

The table below compares various courses and how much time students spend preparing for class. A large proportion of engineering students spend more than 20 hours each week, while most business or finance students fail to hit the 20 hour mark (4). The differences in course material and faculty expectations could account for these differences, but it shows that regardless of the course, students don’t seem to be doing enough outside the classroom to gain the academic results that they are truly capable of.

Based on the results of the time use survey and how many study hours are recommended, it will come as no surprise that 22% of engineer majors who spend more than 20 hours each week preparing for class, still feel unprepared (4).

Perhaps There is too Much Partying…

There is the common thought that college students spend countless hours in a day hanging out at parties and spend far too much time hanging out with their friends instead of focusing on the fact that they have come to college to gain an educational qualification. A study by UCLA shows that this is, in fact, not necessarily the case. The amount of time freshman students spend socializing and drinking have both declined over recent years (5). But, how much time do college students spend on social media? Students clearly aren’t spending their newfound time on studying, so perhaps phones and social media have a lot to answer for?

What Does All of This Mean?

Whichever way you look at it, college students are not spending as much time on their actual education as they could or should be spending, that much is clear. However, with the large gap between what is recommended and what students are doing in reality, one has to wonder if the educational expectations are too high.

Equally, college students are still graduating successfully, so they must be doing something right. Socializing and drinking have decreased, but the use of mobile phones and social media is on the rise and soaring. Students still work to support themselves and there will always be time spent on sleeping, eating, “life stuff” and travel. Overall, students are attending college in an ever-changing world – one where internet use is becoming more and more essential, and social networking may have just as much of an impact on future employment as do their educational results. There should always be more time spent for educational activities, but perhaps it is just not as essential as once thought. And that’s our review of how college students spend their time!

  1. https://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/students.htm
  2. https://www.umflint.edu/advising/surviving_college
  3. https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=145864
  4. http://nsse.indiana.edu/NSSE_2011_Results/pdf/NSSE_2011_AnnualResults.pdf#page=16
  5. https://www.heri.ucla.edu/monographs/TheAmericanFreshman2014.pdf

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SAT Math Topics: 5 Tips on What You Need to Know Before You Go

Want to know what are the new SAT math topics? The math section of the SAT is designed to test your knowledge on problem solving, critical thinking, modeling, algebraic functions and using tools strategically. Seems like pretty broad concepts doesn’t it? Don’t worry, this is your definitive guide on the exact SAT math review topics that are currently being covered. By the end of this article you will know what math is on the new SAT, and how to review for it effectively!

SAT Math Review

The SAT math topics are about getting real. The good news is that the SAT doesn’t test you on every single math topic you have ever had studied. Feel free to breathe a sight of relief. Instead, it selects areas deemed the most relevant in college courses and careers.

The SAT Math test focuses on areas that play a large role in colleges and a variety of careers, therefore applying real world math. These focus areas are:

  • Heart of Algebra – create, manipulate and solve algebraic equations. These questions center around linear equations – equations that involve two variables that change as stated by a consistent pattern.
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis – is all about being quantitatively literate. These questions require you to create and use a model, as well as understanding the difference between the model predictions and actual data collected.
  • Passport to Advance Math – includes questions that require the manipulation of complex equations and functions that are typically needed in STEM-based careers.

On top of these areas, the test also covers additional key concepts that don’t fall into any of the above categories. These include coordinate geometry, basic trigonometry, area and volume.

5 Ways to Review the SAT Math Topics

1. Know how to complete grid in questions

Students are often given advice to learn the style of questions and the format of the test. But what does this mean when it comes to the SAT?  In the SAT math section there are multiple choice questions and grid-in questions. Answering multiple choice questions are fairly straightforward – simply select the answer you think is correct.

Grid-in questions are different. These are questions where you are going to have to come up with the correct answer on your own.  Don’t ask me why “grid in” is the terms used, I don’t have that answer! 20% of the questions on the SAT math test are grid-in questions so it’s definitely worth your while to understand how they are answered. You are given the instructions for the grid-in answers, but reading them can waste a lot of time. Instead, familiarize yourself with the instructions on practice tests – the instructions are the same. This allows you to spend more time thinking about your answers on test day.

2. Become familiar with the provided formula sheet

Many students breathe a sigh of relief when they hear they don’t have to learn every single formula. But that doesn’t mean you can rest easy. You still need to know when to use each formula. Even knowing where the formulas are located on the sheet will save you valuable time. Have the sheet available during every single revision session and refer to it regularly. Pin it somewhere for you to study on a regular basis – a mirror, the refrigerator, or on the back of the bathroom door!

3. Work backwards

Sometimes it’s easier to start by looking at the multiple choice answers available. You may be lucky enough to rule out a couple of options straight away, but if not, try putting the various options into the equation. This tactic has potential to actually be more time consuming, so may not be ideal for every question, but it’s certainly a good one to have in your bag of tricks.

4. Use the daily practice app

The College Board not only provides official practice tests, but also an app to help track your progress. You will receive a question each day with hints and explanations. It’s a great way to maintain your math skills and to remind you to keep preparing for your math SAT!

5. Make the most of other subjects

It may come as no surprise that you use math skills in a variety of subjects. Because the SAT math section has such a focus on real world math, subjects such as science and social science are incredibly relevant. Apply your math knowledge in these subjects and you are unknowingly preparing yourself for the SAT math test. Any questions that involve data analysis, graphs, percentages, ratios and tables are useful in preparation for the SAT.

Topics Covered in the New Math SAT

As you have already learned, the math SAT covers three main topics, with anything leftover categorized under additional math. This section will give you a SAT math topics breakdown, providing you with a thorough understanding of exactly what math is on the SAT.

Heart of Algebra

In this section, questions are focused around equations based on real-world topics such as distance, speed, mass, volume or everyday financial topics.
Questions may ask you to;

  • Solve linear equations and linear inequalities
  • Interpret linear functions
  • Answer equation word problems
  • Graph linear equations
  • Solve linear function word problems
  • Solve systems of linear equations
  • Answering these questions may require you to;
    • Use multiple steps to simplify an expression or equation
    • Select a graph that shows an algebraic equation that you saw in Algebra 1 course or Algebra 2. or choose the equation that describes a graph
    • Indicate how a graph would be affected by a change in its equation

You Might Also Be Interested in: How to Study Math: 35 Math Tips You Should Know

Problem Solving and Data Analysis

In this section, questions revolve around the application of ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning. We’ve come up with a collection of more topics and what might be asked of you below:

  • Ratios, rates, percentages, units, and proportions – solve multi-step problems with a given ratio, rate, percentage or unit. You will also need to know how to calculate ratios, rates, percentages and units using the information provided.
  • Table data and data inferences– analyze the data presented on a table and use it to answer questions
  • Scatterplots – select the best equation to fit various scatterplots.
  • Graphs and tables – understand and identify key features, as well as summarizing and evaluating the data presented in them
  • Data collection and conclusions – determine whether data collection methods are accurate and reliable
  • Statistics – determine mean, median, mode, range, and/or standard deviation

Passport to Advanced Math

Students who are interested in STEM-based careers will need to pay particular attention to these type of questions. They involve complex equations and functions, and focus on the following areas;

  • Solving quadratic equations
  • Interpreting nonlinear expressions
  • Quadratic and exponential word problems
  • Radicals and rational exponents
  • Operations with rational expressions and polynomials
  • Polynomial factors and graphs
  • Nonlinear equation graphs
  • Linear and quadratic systems
  • Structure in expressions
  • Isolating quantities
  • Functions

Now that you are familiar with the new SAT math topics you can go ahead and prepare easily and aim to get the results that you need for schools! Always remember that the SAT math exam is only covering information that you’ve already learned.  So prepping and taking some time to review the material will help to refresh your memory and remember how to quickly and accurately complete problems in these areas. Remember to work hard and apply yourself, the rest is easy!

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