April
4th 2011
And now, from the department of the bloody obvious. . .

Posted under: American history, childhood, students, the body, unhappy endings

Via The Daily Beast:

A study presented this week found that, next to time spent studying outside the classroom, time spent drinking was the most reliable predictor of a student’s grade point average. Todd Wyatt, a doctoral candidate at George Mason University, looked at how today’s busy college students allocate their time between different activities. The research surveyed about 13,900 incoming freshman at 167 schools, and found that certain activities could reliably predict academic success. He performed the study along with his colleague Bill DeJong and presented it this week at the American College Personnel Association conference.

Wyatt found that, after time spent studying, the amount of time a student spent drinking was the strongest predictor of that student’s GPA – even more so than time spent in the classroom. “The more time spent partying with alcohol, there’s a significant decrease in GPA,” said Wyatt. This was true even though various other non-studious activities, like wiling away hours on Facebook, had virtually no effect on grades.

The study’s findings hold true even when narrowed to include only elite schools – big-name universities where students are famous for studying hard and partying hard. The researchers replicated the overall population investigation at specific schools where students have an above-average GPAs and also reported above-average alcohol consumption. The result: drinking affects these kids’ grades, too. “These students might not be reaching their full potential as a result of the alcohol consumption,” says Wyatt. “Their grades are high, but they could be even higher.”

Although my headline is snarky, I actually think this research is very valuable, and Todd Wyatt is to be congratulated for undertaking this study.  Quantifying common wisdom is a way of pushing it to the fore.  The more our students understand this, and the more they get that their college grades are in fact part of a their permanent record, the better.

Does anyone look back on their college years and wish they had engaged in more drinking?  For more than a decade, I’ve heard from current college students that the reason they “party hard” now is that they think that after graduation, their access to friendship and alcohol will suddenly dry up, and they’ll never have fun again.  (I’ve written here about what an impoverished view of adulthood this is, and how it saddens me.  Is it just the narciscissm of youth and the students’ inability to more creatively imagine what they might be like as adults, or is evidence of the absence of meaningful inner lives among most American adults?)

What are your post-collegiate regrets, and what role (if any) does alcohol play in them?

40 Comments »

40 Responses to “And now, from the department of the bloody obvious. . .”

  1. token undergrad on 04 Apr 2011 at 9:19 am #

    As a current undergraduate, I regret that the height of the U.S. legal drinking age, and cultural patterns that follow, have significantly curtailed my ability to develop healthy drinking habits that sit somewhere between the binary of total abstinence and the irresponsible behavior that would obviously have a negative effect on my studies. I just turned 21, but with very little practice of drinking in a normal, “grown-up” social setting, and still very few opportunities in my small college town (where, of course, more than half the students are underage all the time) to drink without drinking to excess.

    I don’t know about the actual study, but I find it interesting that the Daily Beast article doesn’t differentiate between “drinking” full-stop and “drinking to excess” or “high-risk drinking.” Surely having a beer at the end of the day–as many responsible, hardworking adults do–doesn’t correlate with lower academic achievement, but I’m not necessarily surprised if the study didn’t make that distinction: for many college students doing so is an impossibility, and the primary way to ingest alcohol is by going to other people’s parties, where inordinate quantities of cheap vodka are consumed.

    The good news is that in my experience university administrators/student life deans/etc. are realizing this in increasing numbers. Even in the past three years I’ve seen more discussion on the internet and in my university about the need to move away from a prohibitionist stance, to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy consumption of alcohol, and to lend support/sponsorship to spaces on campus (e.g. student-run campus pubs, wine-tasting clubs, etc.) in which over-21 students can practice healthy consumption and model it for younger students.

  2. jgolden08 on 04 Apr 2011 at 9:31 am #

    Here’s a reason to drop out of college and drink a lot:

    http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/noquarter/119159584.html

  3. shaz on 04 Apr 2011 at 9:35 am #

    I wonder the extent to which alcohol use is self-medication for some students.

    As mental health issues increase for college students (who are also in the age range where serious mental illness often strikes), to what extent does alcohol abuse relate to untreated mental health concerns? Students with depression, anxiety, etc., also may be likely to have academic trouble, potentially creating a significant overlap, and suggesting that University efforts that are focused on alcohol, rather than the issues behind them, might not be all that’s needed.

  4. Historiann on 04 Apr 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Shaz, that’s a really good point. I hadn’t thought about that.

    Token undergrad makes a good point about functional versus pathological drinking. I think ze’s right that in the college drinking environment, students don’t get a chance to engage in the former because the latter is always pushed by the peer group.

    jgolden08: Awesome!!! He probably makes more money than many professors at UW. (At least he makes about 30% more than *I* make.)

  5. GayProf on 04 Apr 2011 at 10:04 am #

    This comes on the heels of Rutgers University paying Snookie $32,000 (out of student fees) to tell students, “Study Hard, but party harder.”

    I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

  6. Notorious Ph.D. on 04 Apr 2011 at 10:08 am #

    GayProf, I think that just made me feel better about my own university. Perhaps the Rutgers events planners have been spending a bit of time drinking as well?

  7. Janice on 04 Apr 2011 at 10:18 am #

    I think this is interesting because it’s correlating time spent drinking with GPA decline. I wish the article had given us a sense of how much time this might be (what are the averages? what is the range for the outliers?). But drinking enough that it really clocks up as hours of activity a week? That can in no way be a good thing for your GPA, they’re right.

    And an average of 7.25 hours studying? Less than the average time spent working (which was still under eight hours)? Yowza! This explains why asking many students to respond to assigned readings is often a resounding failure. How can they get all those done in just over seven hours a week? (And let’s not forget the underachievers who help to bring the average down from the many more hours that our best students spend.)

  8. ej on 04 Apr 2011 at 10:42 am #

    I drink way more now than I ever did in college. I attribute this to the fact that I have two children under 4.

  9. On Wisconsin on 04 Apr 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Token undergrad, as someone who went to college when my state’s drinking age was 18, let me assure you that healthy drinking habits are hard to pick up regardless of the “height” of the drinking age. You think it’s tough figuring it out at 21 in college? It’s no easier at 18, when you’re still in high school.

    jgolden08, when are you all going to recall that idiot governor?

  10. Leslie on 04 Apr 2011 at 11:27 am #

    “What are your post-collegiate regrets, and what role (if any) does alcohol play in them?”

    I regret selling my oboe, because now that I want to take it up again, I don’t even have a cheap plastic instrument to get started with.

    I don’t have alcohol based regrets.

    My college roommate in my first year was the kind of person who responded to freedom from parental oversight with binge-drinking on a fake ID. Another student from hir exact background might have responded to that freedom in an entirely different way. My point being that legal drinking age doesn’t have a whole lot to do with whether and how much college students drink.

  11. Notorious Ph.D. on 04 Apr 2011 at 11:44 am #

    @ Janice: Remember that it’s not just the time spent at the bars. Other time costs of regular over-drinking include time spent sleeping it off, fuzzy-attention time from being hungover and/or ill-rested, and time lost to illness because all of the above will trash even a robust early-twenties immune system.

    I’m not going all after-school special here and saying that having a few beers now and then or even going on the occasional collegiate bender will result in all of the above. But over a long period of time, it will take its toll.

  12. Dr. Crazy on 04 Apr 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Am I the only person who attended a grad program where it was totally normal to drink *every single day* and then to get annihilated on the weekends? Because, seriously, that was the culture of my program and of other programs with which I’m familiar. (Maybe it’s an English thing?) At any rate, the point is, the vast majority of us ended up finishing our dissertations and getting academic jobs. So I’m not sure that drinking in itself correlates with low performance, given the fact that all of my cohort were high academic achievers, and somehow managed to do their work even with hangovers and all the other things that go along with drinking. I’d be inclined to think that Shazz’s suggestion about the undergrad drinking relates to other issues that crop up during that age range is likely something very important to consider.

    (For what it’s worth, I’d say my drinking was moderate in undergrad for the most part, but also I didn’t really make close friends during that time. Maybe if I’d gone out more I’d have more friends from college? Who knows.)

  13. Historiann on 04 Apr 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Dr. Crazy–that sounds like a completely dysfunctional level of drinking. Even aside from the toll it takes on your mental and intellectual abilities–how did you ever afford it? (I don’t mean you personally–but rather, “you all” grad students!)

    One of the things that kept me from drinking much in grad school was the cost. Buying a 6-pack of beer was a splurge for me. I remember a number of pitchers shared with other grad students, but I don’t recall us drinking all that much simply because drinking in bars added up, even in the dive bars we frequented.

  14. Perpetua on 04 Apr 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    Dear undergrads: I did so much more drinking after college! Seriously. 1) I lived in a city rather than a tiny town on the edge of a godforsaken abyss; 2) I had money because I had a job; and 3) I discovered happy hour after work with my friends. While there are many sad aspects to twentysomething bar culture, it always felt more fun and more sociable to me than alcohol fueled undergrad parties, which always seemed kind of desperate and a wee bit scary to me. (And were in fact dangerous, if one looks at the relationship between binge drinking and rape.)

    You know, H’ann, thinking about your argument (and our previous discussion) about the impoverished view of adulthood makes me think about these discussions about the future of higher ed in a slightly different way. That is, it seems like the rhetoric of college as an “experience” that should represent “the best year’s of your life” rather than, say, an educational curriculum, are connected. It’s easier to disparage university culture when you don’t actually associate it with *learning*. Binge drinking doesn’t just take a physical toll that leads to missed classes and difficulty concentrating on school work – there’s a culture here that says College is For Partying, not College is For Learning. I would advance a hypothesis that the more binge drinking an undergrad does, the lower the GPA, and the less likely that student is to think of the purpose of college as being anything associated with an education.

  15. Historiann on 04 Apr 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Perpetua, I think that’s a really good point. What “college” triggers in most people’s minds is probably different than what most of us here mean when we evoke the experience!

    This is another argument for rigor in our classrooms. How can anyone get any kind of a passing GPA with just 7.25 hours of coursework outside of class?

  16. Dr. Crazy on 04 Apr 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    H’Ann – Oh, it was dysfunctional, and I would say that the people I knew who ended up dropping out of the program definitely were among those with the biggest “issues” surrounding alcohol. As for how to afford it, the university-wide grad student association had a keg every friday, we drank at people’s houses – there wasn’t actually a ton of bar-hopping – the department sponsored events with alcohol, professors had end-of-semester parties for their seminars that included alcohol…. it was not difficult to find ways to drink, if one was so inclined.

    And then, well, if we did go out, we knew bartenders, etc., and somehow it all worked out without all of us going broke.

    And it’s my sense that this is not unusual in English grad programs. Basically, there’s a whole “work hard, play hard” thing, and this sort of romanticized version of the professor with a glass of scotch or gin or some other hardcore drink after a day of writing and thinking deep thoughts.

    It’s also worth noting, though, that most of the people i know who did finish all checked out of that culture in order to get the dissertation done – whether doing as I did, and leaving residency, or just not going around the department anymore.

  17. LadyProf on 04 Apr 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Put me down tentatively in the regret column: drinking in college always struck me as fun. Except I don’t know whether my non-drinking was a choice. I had to work my way through college; money was tight and I believed I didn’t have spare cash for alcohol. Not even cheap beer. Then as now, young women could drink for free if they paid the non-monetary price, but I didn’t.

    My college life was deferred gratification. Can’t recommend it and wouldn’t wish it on anyone else, even though I’m pretty happy with the outcome. Oh, and I drink pretty heavily now.

  18. Canuck Down South on 04 Apr 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Okay, this is pretty anecdotal, but here goes: I was an undergraduate in Canada, where legal age was 19, and have been a graduate student in both Canada and the US. Since moving down here, I’ve certainly found that the difference in drinking culture are much bigger than I expected. In Canada, people seem to start to drink more moderately within a few weeks of their 19th birthday, as they realize they can do it in nicer places (such as bars and restaurants), instead of hiding it in dorms. By the time I graduated, most of the drinking done by the people I knew included a few drinks at a public establishment, which rarely meant getting seriously drunk. This is not to say that there wasn’t a lot of heavier drinking on weekends or at house parties, but serious binge drinking seemed to be less common and to stop at a younger age…which was bourne out by my experience in a Canadian grad school, where most of the drinking was in bars.

    When I moved down here, I was startled to see how much of the binge drinking culture was still alive among grad students. I’ve asked people about it, and they all say the same thing–they never really learned how to drink like adults, and 3+ years of illegal binge drinking as undergrads formed habits that are hard to break. Only now in their late 20s are some of them learning how to only have 3 or 4 drinks at a time…of course, most of these are also English students, and as Dr. Crazy notes above, they’re known for hard drinking. 3-4 times a week is not uncommon, and oddly, those who drink the most tend to be the most successful and productive as both researchers and teachers (though I don’t dare think how often freshman comp has been taught by hungover graduate students).

    I hardly drank as a student (there was no way I could afford it, for starters…meaning I had a perhaps remarkably well-spent youth). I do occasionally think, though, that to survive in this profession I ought to learn to drink a lot more (see above re: English students and drinking)!

  19. Western Dave on 04 Apr 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    At the SLAC I attended in the 80s, the beer was free and no ID was necessary; we had, on average, one case of alcohol poisoning a semester (often a townie teenager who snuck into the party). Then I graduated and the lawyers told the college to stop buying alcohol for students, especially underage students, and various shenanigans resulted in no funding for alcohol. Then I came back and taught there, the result – one case of alcohol poisoning a weekend. (Caveat: back in the 80s the SLAC had very firmly enforced rules about alcohol serving at parties. Those being, there had to be alternative beverages that were equally desirable to the alcohol offerings (soda, virgin drinks etc. not tap water, and substantive food (beyond a bowl of chips) and if either ran out, alcohol had to stop being served. These rules worked remarkably well towards moderating alcohol consumption, even though you had a bunch of underage kids drinking).

  20. FrauTech on 04 Apr 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    I didn’t drink in college and my GPA was still crap. I think Shaz hits it that the drinking is a symptom not a precursor. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure a bunch of undergrads going away to college and drinking a lot is a staunchly middle class problem.

    Janice- I think I’d kill myself if I had to spend more than 7 hours a week studying. I guess when I was in the humanities I spent a lot of time reading (plus the hours in lecture) because that was enjoyable to me. But when I was working full time and doing my engineering degree there’s no way I got in 7 solid hours a week, maybe only when doing hands on work for my senior projects. But 7 hours a week of homework? Admittedly I was half-time but still. Not every student is running off to party every week, and I always felt like my profs assumed I had a lot more time than I really did. I admit though that affected my GPA as someone who didn’t have time to go over homework problems I couldn’t get the first time through.

    I still think this whole lazy/drinking/party issue is a middle class problem. Plus everyone complains about GPA inflation, maybe drinking is the solution to keep that down.

  21. truffula on 04 Apr 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    regrets

    Sigh. Most of my mistakes have been of philosophy, not so much of action. It would have perhaps been better to have drunk less in my first few years as an undergrad but I would have had the same confused ideas about adultness and femaleness whether I was sober or not. By the time I graduated I didn’t drink at all and remained pretty temperate through graduate school, though I did become a homebrewer during that time.

  22. Bardiac on 04 Apr 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    I learned to drink with my parents, who would give me a tiny glass of wine when they had wine (it was an apertif glass or something, REALLY tiny). And I was allowed to sip a cocktail when those were served and had the occasional weak hot toddy when I had a cold.

    At college, I drank, but pretty moderately. But that was a result of the crowd I hung out with. I remember one guy getting drunk socially in my crowd, once or twice, but no one encouraged it, and he wasn’t allowed to drive himself home. Otherwise, the crowd just expected everyone to drink or not, but not to be too drunk to do what we were doing (gaming, softball, whatever).

    I regret not learning to study better earlier. It was my senior year before I really got the hang of it, and that’s MANY years too late. That’s my only regret through college.

    My grad school crowd didn’t drink much, or hang out in bars, but again, I think that was my crowd, and not everyone. We did have alcohol at department functions, and a drunk faculty member who would station himself by the alcohol and harass women students. That meant if you wanted a drink and were female, you had to get someone else to go with you. Every new female student was warned, too.

    I sound incredibly boring, but I tend to find being with folks who are drunk boring, so I guess I’m okay being my kind of boring.

  23. Bardiac on 04 Apr 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    ps. In my state, adult binge drinking is a big problem. I wonder how many of our students learn to binge drink from their parents, on some level?

  24. rustonite on 04 Apr 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    not only it is bloody obvious, but it’s an ancient complaint.

    “…for every lecture attended or question disputed there were probably as many or more, missed for sleeping or gaming or drinking or idling.”- Gordon Leff, Paris and Oxford Universities in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, 11.

    This is how university students are and have been, literally forever. You can go back seven or eight hundred years and find complaints about excessive partying, working too much, caring only about the vocational aspects of their studies, etc. If you want some real fun, read Leff, or the first few chapters of Charles Homer Haskins’s Studies in Mediaeval Culture. Some of the complaints are culture-specific (I don’t think we have a lot of problems with mendicants at the moment), but the issues with students are shockingly familiar, and current problems with administrators and town-gown issues are echos of what happened then.

    When the lord said, the poor you will always have with you, he should have added, and the drunk frat boy and the asshole administrator and the obnoxious townie.

  25. koshem Bos on 04 Apr 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Until the study discussed is carefully studied, I would wait with any conclusions. Furthermore, if one watches announcements of medical finds where in combination it’s clear that the only safe food is none, one would not rush to conclude anything.

    I’ll drink to that.

  26. Indyanna on 04 Apr 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    We only drank on Friday and Saturday nights, and we DID drink then. I “trained” on a “parachute” brew, beer with 3.2 % alcohol content, which you could do at 18 in the Buckeye state, and which buffered the impact. It allowed you to get a sort of a buzz on, but even with a teenager’s mechanical parts, you could hardly hold enough of it in long enough to get truly destroyed. That regimen got you back in the library by the time it opened on Sunday afternoon, and hello, 7.5 hours?!? I think I packed that much time in before the first class on Monday. I can’t comprehend what the culture of studying is today, which our younger students call “homework” as if they were still in high school.

    At grad school the same regime pretty much pertained; weekend nights from after dinner until midnight, sitting at tables in some college bar in groups of 4-8, which I think effectively constrained consumption levels. Except that I’m remembering that about a week after I got to BFU my department threw a reception for grad students in a Museum atrium, where you drank for free until blind under the baleful gaze of fifty foot high Aegyptian marble monuments and the occasional mummy! I can still remember stumbling out of there into the mid- September late sunlight, cutting through the library to pee (and the title of a book I saw on the shelves while trying to find the restroom) then deciding to go to a baseball game. I plead temporary insanity!

  27. Janice on 04 Apr 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    FrauTech, when I started my undergrad, I was a science and engineering student. I sure had to study more than seven hours a week for that and I felt like an underachiever next to my Chem Eng roommate who was a year further along and part of an awesome study group that met five nights a week! That said, I know I couldn’t sustain some of that work for the stretches I did in straightforward reading or analysis. Long bouts of coding or problem sets? Wearisome!

    As you say, in the humanities and social sciences, it’s more about reading, which may not seem so onerous if you love reading (I do). Clearly many of my students don’t from their blank responses and sheepish admissions when I ask them about the day’s assigned readings.

    I did some social drinking in grad school but I could generally nurse a beer for at least an hour or two. The worst thing about going to bars in the eighties was the smoke: I’d come home after closing and have to shower or I couldn’t sleep with myself stinking of tobacco. Urgh!

  28. Comrade PhysioProf on 04 Apr 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    I regret not having fired up more fatties in college.

  29. Susan on 04 Apr 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    I regret all the courses I didn’t take. Not sure what I would have given up, but I’m always astonished by what I don’t know.

    I went to college when the drinking age was 18, and we had a pub on campus. So you could (and I occasionally did) study till 10 or 11, then go to the pub for a pitcher of beer with friends. I don’t think I ever got drunk in college till I went abroad for my junior year. It was much more one drink at a time type of thing. But then, I was pretty geeky.

    I do tell my students that for a 4 credit class with 3 hours or meetings, they are expected to do 9 hours out of class. They look at me like I’m crazy.

  30. BJ on 05 Apr 2011 at 1:38 am #

    As an undergrad with a number of friends who have recently entered the job market or are working on entering the job market, I can tell you a bit about the impoverished view of adult life. It’s because work, even for well paid, well educated “professionals,” is frequently an almost hellish experience, particularly for the 20 and 30 somethings who are still considered to be “paying their dues,” whatever that means. I have friends with mountains of debt and unable to find jobs, living with their parents. Many other friends are working jobs they don’t like, but can’t quit (debt, again…not to mention, oh rent, food, etc.). And the hours are horrible. For some ridiculous reason, I thought this country had an eight hour workday…don’t know where I picked up that idea, but it certainly isn’t true. College is perceived as the last chance for “freedom” because in many ways it is. The luxury of being able to plan your own days, structure your own time, decide when to start that paper and when to go out and drink, is not a luxury extended to the average American worker, at least not from the perspective of the average undergrad. And in the experience of many of my friends out of college, it’s wickedly difficult to make friends in the workforce, outside of the generally soul-less experience of going to bars with your co-workers. Perhaps you make time for yoga, or a painting class, or whatever it is, but what makes friendship in college so deep is that after your yoga class you can go back to your dorm with a new friend and talk for hours and hours. Working full time makes those kinds of connections extremely difficult to foster. Are college students drinking constantly actually taking advantage of the freedom college offers them in a fulfilling way…I’d say they aren’t. But I can see where they are coming from: the future looks bleak, particularly in the current historical moment.

  31. Dr. Crazy on 05 Apr 2011 at 3:16 am #

    Something occurred to me as I was thinking more about this post: to what extent is the way college is treated now just a postponement of what people used to think about with high school – that high school are the “best years of your life” and that it’s during high school that you will make your life-long friends, be free of responsibility, etc.? In other words: I don’t buy that “these kids today” have a particularly or uniquely impoverished view of adulthood, but rather they may have just postponed expressing that view later than previous generations have done.

    Going along with that, I don’t think that it’s actually that odd that I’m aware of many grad programs in my field in which this is extended further. I mean, grad school is actually a time of comparative joy and freedom compared with the future most English grad students see before them: adjuncting 4 or 5 courses a semester without benefits at two or three institutions for, frankly, about the same amount of money as most decent stipends these days.

  32. -k- on 05 Apr 2011 at 5:20 am #

    I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol until I was 20, and even then it was wine. This had everything to do with the cultural model for what drinking was: getting sloppy and obnoxious. I didn’t really start to enjoy alcohol until I left the U.S. and saw that outside of this country it’s more common than not to get one’s drink on (even for hours at a time) without entirely losing one’s composure.

    That said, what we should really be training these kids to do is drink *and* work! As we all know, a little liquor can go a long way in mitigating against the tedium of some tasks.

  33. Perpetua on 05 Apr 2011 at 5:42 am #

    I think @BJ raises some really important points. I made a comparison between the US and Europe, and that’s worth considering if we’re going to take into account what creates views or experiences of adulthood in the US. We have soul-crushing work weeks in this country, cycles of overspending and debt, highly restricted vacation/paid leave, terrible benefits (generally speaking), and almost no social safety net. And of course add that to the recession, and we have a fair miserable environment for workers in this country. My (oversimplistic) response is for everyone who feels miserable about their lives or future to join the labor movement, or to start one. It’s only thanks to the labor unions that we have weekends and the 40 hour work week (theoretical though it may be) in the first place. Strong workers’ voices demanding rights is the only way we are going to start treating workers with respect and dignity (respect and dignity = concrete rights and benefits). People in other parts of the world are happier where their lives and selves are not defined by their productivity and salary, where they have access to affordable health care and other services, and lots of vacation (lots = 3-5 weeks).

    (I also think as some posters have commented up thread that alcohol abuse as self-medication is a very important and overlooked factor. Kids transitioning to adulthood don’t have their parents to look after their therapy/ medication any more, and might be developing new mental health issues. . . Also and lastly, while people have always complained about students being wild or drinking too much, I do think one can trace an appreciable rise in the phenomenon of binge drinking at US universities over the past 30 years.)

  34. Historiann on 05 Apr 2011 at 5:58 am #

    But but but: our awesome new Heath Care Reform bill from 2010 says that children can stay on their parents’ health plans to age 27 or something! Of course, most of it doesn’t go into effect until 2014, so I can understand why some of you aren’t feeling the awesomeness of it all.

    BJ does raise some very good points, and the rest of you too vis-a-vis the quality and standard of living in Europe. But, I will play the old crank who will point out that long hours in low-status jobs are hardly some new oppression for people in their 20s, even for those with college degrees. My students seem to work an awful lot of hours even while in college–so for a lot of students the world of college and the world of work are hardly segregated.

    (I don’t necessarily approve of all the hours my students work, BTW. I think most of them would be better off if they lived more simply–no cars, no apartments–and spent more time studying. But there’s been an extreme inflation in what many middle-class students expect in their “student lifestyle” years, especially at large public unis with low tuition. I maintain that most of my students could afford out-of-state or even private tuition somewhere if they scaled back their “student lifestyles” a bit.)

  35. Historiann on 05 Apr 2011 at 5:59 am #

    My regrets: too much time spent with boyfriends, not enough spent with Art History or with friends who still mean something to me 20 years later.

  36. Shelley on 05 Apr 2011 at 9:24 am #

    This dovetails with other recent research that “character” predicts academic success as much as skills do.

    Being a responsible person is no joke.

  37. FrauTech on 05 Apr 2011 at 9:38 am #

    Janice- there’s no way I could get in that kind of time. I probably averaged 3-5 hours total a week (like I said before, part time). Sometimes less, and had about a C+ B- average through the whole thing. I’ve always wondered whether that was me being smarter than I thought I was and not needing the time, or just being lazy and benefitting from the curve.

    Thanks to everyone who pointed out the problems with “kids these days” are problems all along. And I’d like to re-iterate I think this is a middle class problem, and maybe that’s what’s changed the attitude. Indyanna- homework/problem sets, not sure the difference. At any rate during my humanities experience I was working part time and living at home with my parents, so indeed the work I took home to do was homework! I just wonder if more kids living at home or working or trying to start their own businesses or be in clubs or have hobbies and internships so that they can get their first job is what’s reall changing things. Yeah the party crowd is there and will always be there, but maybe as a degree shifts from an enjoyable few years taken off to study and becomes instead a pre-requisite to an entry-level job while juggling retail/fast food jobs, we just don’t have the same kind of students we did in a prosperous but mostly male, mostly white, and mostly middle class post-WWII era. I don’t think that’s a bad thing either, except that clearly we’re not enabling the non-middle class college students to enjoy and be fulfilled by the experience.

  38. Matt_L on 05 Apr 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    great post Historiann, enriched by an outstanding comment thread. It is indeed a vast subject.

    I have two solid regrets from undergrad:

    I wish I had taken surfing as one of my PE electives.

    I regret not staying for the full year as an exchange student at the Karl Marx University of Economics in the People’s Democratic Republic of Megalomania in 1990-91. I only enrolled for a semester and that was a mistake in hindsight.

  39. Sara on 05 Apr 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    I share your experience Dr Crazy, with the grad school drinking. In college I spent way too much time with my older boyfriend, who was out of college, and missed out on really getting to know and spend time with my peers. That was a mistake. But in grad school I started drinking a lot – not binge drinking, just a steady steady drip of 2-3 drinks a night 3-5 nights a week, with some periods of temperance in between. We partied pretty hard first year… We have a joke in my program that from the moment you have your morning coffee you look forward to the hour when you can have your first drink…BECAUSE between you and that coffee is a full day’s worth of work! So unlike those 7.25 hour a week of work undergrads, I think my grad school drinking is very deserved!

  40. Bronwyn on 13 Apr 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    I kind of wish that I had done more drinking — not for the alcohol, but for making more and better friends out of my classmates, since drinking was the, or one of the big social activities. I didn’t drink at all during my first degree, and very little during this second one. It didn’t even occur to me to try most of the time, because most kinds of alcohol taste nasty to me. The few exceptions are things not commonly found in bars, or that might look pretentious. Being broke and asthmatic were problems for my social life too.

    Historiann, I see your point about scaling back student lifestyles, but I have a somewhat different perspective. Moving out, I think, is a valuable experience, as is travel. The mature, interesting, and talented people in my current program tend to be the ones who live on their own, have more education, or travel. Meanwhile, many of the ones living with their parents seem shallow and childish, talking about partying, boys, and TV. I think it would do them some good to move out and get some life experience of something other than well-off surburbs.