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Friends, School, Sleep. Pick Two

It was 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, time to sit through another "History of the Andean Countries of South America" class. I don’t think that the professor even cared about this stuff. I hadn’t slept much the previous night thanks to preparing for an upcoming exam, and listening to him drone on and on was painful. I was just about to fall into a daze when my eyes fell upon a backpack pin.

"Friends, School, Sleep: Pick Two", it read.

Never had I read words more true. There are so many hours and, somehow, so little time. Listening in on a few college conversations will make sleep deprivation and time management complaints sound banal. So where does all this time go? You might say that this is just a sign of the times. Job competition is fierce and you have to excel at school to make it.

But are we really spending that much time studying? In 2004, the National Survey of Student Engagement surveyed 620,000 students at 850 four-year universities to find out how college students really spent their days. Surprisingly, the study found that the average full-time college freshman only studied an average of 13 hours a week. Yes, freshman classes are usually easier, but hours spent on schoolwork weren’t much different for older students. By senior year, students reported studying only an hour more per week. In fact, only 11 percent of surveyed students reported studying for more than 25 hours.

According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the average college student gets six hours of sleep a night. Once you combine time spent on sleep with that spent on studying, the top 11 percent are still left with 101 free hours. One hundred fourteen free hours are still available for the average student. If you factor in the 15 average in-class hours, you have 86 and 99 spare hours, respectively. That’s a lot of time. So why do we always feel rushed? Let’s break down where all this time goes:

Student Time Usage: Hours Spent Per Week

  First-Year Students Seniors
  Part-time Full-time Part-time Full-time
Studying 9 13 10 14
Working on-campus 2 3 3 4
Working off-campus 18 5 20 10
Participating in co-curricular activities 1 5 2 5
Relaxing and socializing 10 12 10 11
Caring for dependants 13 2 12 4
Commuting to class 5 4 5 5

That takes care of many daily activities. When you take into account time spent on eating, exercising, phone conversations, showering, changing, styling hair, e-mailing, washing dishes, cleaning the home, shopping, paying bills, and sitting on your bed for 10 minutes before stepping out, your free time shrinks considerably. Before you know it, it’s late again. And even without an all-nighter in the cards, you know you’ll be tired.

Unless…nevermind. No, I really think we should. Grab your eye masks everyone: We’re skipping class and sleeping in tomorrow. It’s about time we made some time.

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