Strength, stamina, and study — a “must”

collegesmartkidsThe truth is that far too many high school students are studying no more than they did in middle school. Ask them how many hours each week they really study, and the response is often, “It all depends.” And that means it all depends on whether or not a test is coming up. Or they might say “It depends on how much homework I have.”

It’s a telltale sign that when the student’s homework is done, “study time” ends.

Students feel that, as is often the case in grade school, simply doing homework is “enough.”  They are completing their assignments. Then, if they don’t do well on tests, they say “I’m just not good at that” —“that” being history, math, foreign language, or whatever the subject may be. Students don’t really see the relationship between not studying and getting lower grades.

A reality check

The American Council on Education found that 65.6% of college-bound high school seniors study, at most, 5 hours a week.

As a student now, you may not believe that the “it-all-depends” and the “just-do-the-homework” patterns of studying are going to get you in trouble when you go to college. For you, as well as a large number of students, “cramming” earns high grades. But the price of cramming is short-term knowledge. You must understand two basic truths. First, you have to gain long-term knowledge — not just “do homework.” Second, acquiring long-term knowledge takes time, and you must make the time for it in your busy days. How bad is it? Take a look at the chart:

College-bound High School Seniors Study Times
Hours Spent on Study/Homework Percentage of Students
None   2.4%
Less than 1 hour 12.1%
1-2 hours 22.0%
3-5 hours 29.1%
6-10 hours 19.0%
11-15   8.4%
16-20 hours   4.1%
Over 20   2.8%

 

With each year of school, you should increase the number of hours spent learning per day and per week. And that also means studying even longer for those subjects that you feel are more difficult for you. Learning means keeping knowledge, carrying it with you, not only to college, but also beyond your education into life.

How does a one-mile runner become a long-distance runner, perhaps a marathon runner? By gradually running longer and longer distances, building up strength and stamina. If you want to succeed in college, increasing learning time changes in the same way — gradually throughout middle and high school.

If you really go about the business of learning, you’ll find plenty to do to fill your newly expanded study hours: rereading chapters, taking notes on chapters, reviewing your highlights, rewriting/reorganizing your class notes and adding remembered details, plus preparing for the next class.How does a one-mile runner become a long-distance runner, perhaps a marathon runner? By gradually running longer and longer distances, building up strength and stamina. If you want to succeed in college, increasing learning time changes in the same way — gradually throughout middle and high school.

The list goes on.

Colleges normally expect freshmen to study at least 30 hours each week. The American Council on Education found that only 2.8% of college-bound high school seniors spend 20 or more hours studying.

Dismaying results

  • If you arrive at college with an “it-all-depends” attitude, you won’t succeed. The statistics bear this out. 25% of college freshman do not return to the college, often because they can’t handle the work load.
  • Only about 37% of college students graduate in the “typical” four years.
  • Researchers have now declared that four-year graduations are no longer typical.
  • Nearly 40% of students take seven or more years or never graduate.

These numbers grow out of the fact that the majority of students have not developed study habits, patterns, or skills, which should have been improving year by year as they progressed through their education. The one skill they have honed to a fine edge is cramming because these students cannot manage their workload or their time. (Cramming won’t work in college. There’s too much to learn.) They have no experience in independent learning, and succeeding in college is grounded in being able to learn independently.

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