It’s advising season, and with scheduling classes comes scheduling time to study for them. But how much study time are we talking?
Professors recommend for every hour spent in class, you spend three additional hours outside of class for homework and studying. To do the math: if you’re taking 12 credits, you should expect 36 hours per week outside of class. If you’re taking 15, prepare to spend 45 hours per week.
That sounds like a lot, right? For some classes, it is. UM offers gen eds that require the recommended amount of weekly study time for the whole semester. I took Anthro 101 my freshman year and I probably spent 10 hours total thinking about it, including the time I actually spent in class.
Most upper-division courses (and some unnecessarily hard gen eds — what are you trying to prove, intro-level professors?) will cost you anywhere from 10 to 20 hours per week, depending on your major, and that’s if you’re being responsible. If you don’t spend the time you need to each week, you may find yourself trying to fit 88 hours’ worth of study time into two days.
If classes vary so much in terms of time commitment, how are we supposed to budget our schedules when registering for next semester? A lot of students have jobs, families and lives in general to plan around, and that’s made no easier when you don’t know if Intro to Humanities will take nine hours or 90 minutes of your weekly effort.
If you think you can eyeball the effort required in a class based on the brief descriptions offered — good luck with that. I once took an art history class because it sounded like a fun, easy edition to an otherwise math-heavy semester. It kicked my ass. I barely escaped with a B, and wound up turning to Probability and Linear Equations for an intellectual break. Seriously kids, if you take away nothing else from my rant, let it be this: Art of World Civilization II is NOT an easy-A.
We could try asking professors to provide an estimate of required time spent outside of class in their course descriptions, but let’s face it: a lot of professors are disconnected with how easy or hard their classes actually are. Those (few) insufferably haughty professors — you know, the ones who brag about how few people pass their classes — will probably suggest you quit your job altogether, forego your hobbies, abandon your family. Your life belongs to Geology 101 now.
So, if we can’t trust our professors, and we can’t trust our own instincts, who can we trust?
Former students, that’s who. I propose we use the average response from our course evaluations. What else is that info for, anyway, other than for the aforementioned asshole professors to use as bragging rights. “My class takes 34 hours of study-time a week.” “Oh yeah? Well, my class broke a student’s psyche entirely. They had to move back home with their parents.”
Students deserve to know as much as possible about their prospective classes, including what kind of work load can be expected, and we might as well use the data we’re already collecting.