'Academically Adrift' Argues College Students Have Plenty of Time to Work

Academically Adrift, a new book written by a pair of sociology professors, is generating quite a bit of controversy. Richard Arum and Josipa Roska found that most students aren't learning much of anything in college -- and they're not studying nearly as much as they once did.

Their survey of more than 2,300 students, at a wide variety of four-year colleges, found college students spend 51% of each week on socializing and recreation. 24% of that week is devoted to sleeping, and 9% goes to working and student clubs and volunteering. Time in class and time spent studying outside of class, combined, account for just 16% of the average college student's week.

Here's the conclusion I draw from this study: If you think your kid shouldn't get a job because he or she needs that time to study, you're an idiot. If you want to argue that your kid shouldn't work because he or she needs time to play beer bong, that's much closer to the reality.

Working Towards a Debt-Free Degree

I've written at some length about the benefits of working during college -- students who work actually graduate with, on average, slightly higher GPAs than students who don't work -- but I am always hearing from parents, who complain about the academic dangers of having students work during college.

What is interesting is you never hear the "students who work during college won't have time to study" argument from anyone who's in college or is a recent graduate. We know that's a bunch of garbage. You always hear that argument from well-intentioned liberals (not that there's anything wrong with being a liberal; they're just the ones who tend to make this argument) who have no idea what's actually going on at college campuses. Hopefully, this new research will stifle that argument.

The average college student who borrows money for school graduates with about $24,000 in debt -- or $6,000 per year, assuming your kid graduates in four years. But If your child works enough to earn $115.38 per week (after-tax), that's enough to reduce that $6,000 per year in borrowing to 0 -- a debt-free college grad.

In summary: shut up and get a job.

Zac Bissonnette'
s Debt-Free U: How I Paid For An Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, Or Mooching Off My Parents was called the "best and most troubling book ever about the college admissions process" by The Washington Post.

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The writer's school obviously is not as academically challenging as the school my daughters attend. They have more homework than it is physically possible to do in a 24 hour day, take 17 hours per semester, and have internships (which DO NOT pay). I do not know of a single adult who would live like this. There is NO free time to do things they would simply enjoy. They are stressed out and sleep deprived all the time. They are academically gifted, but there is never enough time in the day to do all the work they are given.
So, do not tell me about the easy college life where kids have time to play, take jobs, and spend 75% of their week on sleeping, socializing and recreation.
That is an ignorant fairy tale you are promoting and you should be ashamed!

February 11 2011 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to voyagerdjc248's comment

As a former college instructor, and father of two young women who worked their way through school (just as I did) and who both have emerged from college prepared for the world of work I could not possibly agree with this article more. I have counseled many students (whose expenses were being fully funded by Mom and Dad) the notion that students cannot possibly have time to work is hogwash. And as professional of more than 40 years standing give me an applicant any day who knows the value of work and is ready to get to it. Not some pampered kid who expects to be hired. Interdstiingly enough I consider myself one of those "well intentioned liberals" but I also live in the real world. If your kids can't handle 17 hours tell them to take fewer classes.

March 08 2011 at 3:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

2300 college students spend an average of 16% of their time on school?? What a complete joke, that's like 25 hours a week, Obama said last night the future of the nation depends on college education, if that is true we have no future. This half ass education isn't going to cut it in a competeitive market. America cannot continue to thrive on Real estate scams, selling goods for china, mowing each others grass & cooking each others food and government scams which is all that these kids are learning.

January 26 2011 at 10:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All those Roth Education funds keep a college student and the colleges rich, wow how they brained washed people into higher tution money - they know the monies there, u have your own apartment go to beach or a cruise, weekend parties, this studing stuff sucks. LOL

January 26 2011 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to acpward69's comment

oh yeah, now there are no jobs for grads, the College loan bubble will be one of the next to pop.

January 26 2011 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply