College Students Who Study the Least

What students are the biggest slackers?
A report released on Thursday by the National Survey for Student Engagement suggests that business majors may have earned that title.
In the survey, which polled college students at hundreds of colleges and universities earlier this year, concluded that business majors and social science majors spend the least amount of time studying.  The typical business student devoted 14 hours a week to homework versus 19 hours for engineering students, who were the hardest workers. Frankly, it is hard to be impressed with the average number of hours spent studying among any of the following groups, which are clustered by majors:

Weekly time spent studying

  • Business majors 14 hours
  • Social sciences 14 hours
  • Education 15 hours
  • Arts & humanities 17 hours
  • Biological sciences 17 hours
  • Physical sciences 18 hours
  • Engineering 19 hours

While social sciences majors also spent an average of 14 hours a week on homework,  a slightly greater percentage of them (23%) studied more than 20 hours a week. Just 19% of business majors studied that hard.

Seniors spending more than 20 hrs. a week on homework

  • Business 19%
  • Social sciences 23%
  • Education 26%
  • Arts & humanities 31%
  • Biological sciences 36%
  • Engineering 42%

Are College Students Learning Much?

Earlier this year a couple of academics released blockbuster research, which was turned into a book, Academically Adrift, that concluded that business majors learned the least in college. Specifically, the business majors performed the poorest on national exams that tested the college students’ writing and reasoning skills. Does anybody else find it ironic that despite the poor showing, business is the most popular major? Twenty one percent of undergrads earn a bachelor’s degree.
Academically Adrift concluded that 45% of college sophomores did not show any significant improvement in writing or critical reading and thinking after two years years in college and that the same thing could be said for 36% of college graduates!

Lowered Expectations

One reason for these dismal numbers is because too many professors have low expectations for their students. And certainly those lowered expectations only encourage student not to study enough.  According to Academically Adrift, more than a third of students spent less than five hours a week on homework and the average was just nine hours! That’s beyond depressing.
I just texted my son, a college sophomore, to ask how much he studies and haven’t heard back. He told me this week that he’s ready to declare his majors and that he intends to double major in math and art while minoring in physics. It’s hard to imagine selecting more work intensive majors.

Read More on The College Solution:

Expecting More Out of College Students
8 Reasons Not to Get a Business Degree
Why Look Down on a Business Degree
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and Shrinking the Cost of College, a financial workbook. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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  1. I love this post! I am a new blogger and only began for a communications class I am taking this semester at Ohio State. I found this post particularly interesting. I just wrote a post on major stereotypes that are associated with different major. If only I had included business I would have definitely referenced this post and given them a hard time. I am a social science so I can’t be too mean but it’s fun to see stats like this (especially when I can use them to my advantage!).

  2. I just want to say while I enjoy reading your blog, your constant criticism of Business degrees is quite frustrating. I graduated with a business degree (well, a Human Resources degree–related to business) and actually feel that I got a lot out of the experience. I learned a lot of practical knowledge that I was able to use on-the-job (regarding compensation, recruitment, occupational health and safety, etc.) I’ll agree that business majors may not have the communication skills liberal arts majors will have, but foundation courses in math and economics are certainly useful. Also, I was able to take a lot of psychology and sociology courses (which counted toward my major) which really helped me get even more out of my college experience.
    Psychology is one of the most popular majors, yet has one of the highest unemployment rates–still, it seems you prefer to only minimize business degrees. Ultimately, I believe your degree is worth whatever value you place upon it. A business major who is passionate about business will be more successful than one who isn’t.