Dockter is a sophomore public relations and politics double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I generally like to keep in trend with my fellow college students and try to convince anyone who will listen how close I am to a nervous breakdown. My schedule is filled to the brim with classes, two jobs, extra-curricular responsibilities, volunteer work, and the occasional meal and nap. When I find some down time in my week, I like to waste (sorry, spend) time — where else — on the Internet. Whilst perusing various social media, I like to imagine my life if I wasn’t constantly in a state of near-hysteria … a sentiment commonly expressed in popular memes:
“Look at all the (expletives) I give! Nope, no (expletives) in here.”
“There goes my last (expletive!)”
… and so on.
It might put a smile on my face at the time, but these common messages students are being exposed to actually link to a bigger, and very real, problem on college campuses: academic apathy.
Recent research by the Collegiate Learning Assessment shows that contrary to popular belief, undergraduates do not actually learn much at all once they are in college. In fact, 45 percent of the students studied showed no improvement in cognitive thinking, complex reasoning or creative writing in their first two years. Even more surprising, 36 percent of students showed no significant improvement at all during their four years. The scholars who conducted the study argue that the reason students gain so little during their years is a lack of motivation.
At this point, I imagine cries of outrage from students all across campus. “How can this be?” you ask. “I already have no time to do anything! How can I try any harder?” I’m not contesting your stress levels dear students, but I will challenge your priorities. In the 1920s, the average student spent 40 hours a week on academic studies. Today, that number has dropped to as little as 13, the reason being that students now spend more time on social engagements and extra-curricular activities.
I understand the culture has changed since the 1920s and that we should not be expected to live the same lives that our grandparents did. However, the statistics on our academic improvement in college are discouraging, and a change is needed in our motivations. After all, what we learn in college can only help us in our future professions. Furthermore, I am sure many of us do not want to be thousands of dollars in debt in our mid-twenties for nothing, and neither do our parents.
To combat apathy, students need to make a conscious decision to focus on schoolwork. If I study, I can get As; but better yet, I will be increasing my knowledge. If I go to class every day, I will gain valuable experience. If I pass on going out on the weekend because an assignment is looming over me, threatening my very existence, I can only benefit myself. Becoming less apathetic about schoolwork is about making college an active — not passive — experience, so please care about how much you care.