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Bookworms and Slackers: Study Finds Women Better College Students Than Men

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According to a timely back-to-school study released today by market research firm Student Monitor, college women are 35% more likely than men to study daily, 21% more likely to study 15 or more hours weekly, 23% more likely to read their textbook thoroughly, and more likely to get “A”s than their male counterparts.

This doesn’t suprprise me at all, based on personal experience. When I was in college, it took a studious, organized, demanding girlfriend to whip my distracted, disorganized dead ass into shape. Appalled by my study habits when we met in a class, she began studying with me, mapped out a plan and a schedule, and turned me into something resembling a “student.” Of course, after we broke up I reverted, but try as I might, I could not erase her steely strictures or their benefits from my addled brain.

In comparing men to women, the “study” study also found that nearly half of all women study daily compared to a third of men, 26% of men wind up studying after midnight compared to 19% of women, and men party 20% more often than women (prior to studying after midnight, one might presume).

Looking at study habits, Monitor found students who study daily are 40% more likely to earn an “A” than those who do not study daily: 41% of students study every day, while 18% study only once or twice a week. On average, students study 14 hours a week.

Overall, students who read their textbooks thoroughly rather than skimming, study daily, and study for 15 or more hours each week are far more likely to earn “A”s than those with less scrupulous habits.

I might add, “duh.”

Interestingly, students who attend two-year schools — who are more likely to work full time — were found to be 23% more likely to study efficiently.

“We’ve generally taken for granted that hitting the books translates to better grades and a more successful college experience. This research confirms that hard work matters, and quantifies the difference between those students with a set of solid study habits and those without,” said Eric Weil, managing partner, of Student Monitor.

The study of four-year and two-year students was commissioned by the Association of American Publishers trade organizations to help publishers and educators understand students’ study habits, and better determine what impact they have on academic achievement.

“Currently, only one-half of all public four-year college and university students are graduating in four years or less, increasing their debt and putting a strain on campus resources,” said Bruce Hildebrand, executive director for higher education at the AAP. “As a result, colleges and universities are under increasing pressure to improve student engagement and to help students graduate more quickly. We wanted to find out what more publishers could do to make their products better meet the needs of students,” he added.

I would sugget a national program to hook up all slacker male students with studious and bossy girlfriends.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/blog/ Mark Sahm

    Captain EO: I doubt that the colleges and universities themselves are concerned about people taking the 5 or 6-year plan to get finished with their bachelors, despite the AAP listing it as “putting a strain on campus resources”.

    In my experience, the colleges actually recommended it, and I know many people who took the bait. Lots of campus counselors advise taking less than 15 credits a semester (the amount you need to graduate in 4 years at most places), because you could “focus more”.

    But the more semesters you take, the more the college can add on ridiculous campus fees, or get you to buy a campus food card, or stay in an overpriced dormitory. It goes on and on.

    In essence, stupid students who don’t flunk out make colleges more revenue.

  • JR

    So why aren’t they flocking to technical careers? Science needs women, damnit.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    All the stats make sense from my own experience and observation of others.

    For me, I studied less as I went through college life. Combination of knowing the minimum I could do to get away with and increased party-attendance, I suppose.

    Lots of late nights either studying and/or partying for me. The late-night habit has certainly stuck on through to my current life!

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    “Captain EO” — damn, that’s good!

    I coulda tole you this stuff, too, Eric — I had to almost flunk out before I got serious. Lost my scholarship, had to go to work for tuition money (spent 20 hours a week crouched over a drafting table to do it), and “cut back” to 20 credit hours until I had the study habit in place.

    That shock and reorganization turned me around. One year later, I was teaching assistant in a computer lab and three lecture classes – the only undergraduate that year who was hired to do it.

    I credit two things. One was the focus achieved by doing nothing but work and study. The other was that my spouse was working in a different state for 8 of the 9 months of that school year — I had no sweet distractions to entice me away from the books!

  • Nancy

    I think maybe the difference is the old, vaunted ‘maturity’ difference between girls & boys: that girls have a more mature attitude for quite a few years before boys do, & at college age, for most guys it still hasn’t kicked in. When I was in school, guys had far more of a ‘let’s party – my folks can’t see me’ attitude, & most I knew didn’t seem to make the connection that this would show up in their grades, for some reason. Maybe it was the dining commons food…?

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    same thing happened to me. so many great books out there to read (not my textbooks) and music to listen to…it all sorta got in the way.

    and a girlfriend did straighten me out.

    unfortunately, i married her.

  • Nancy

    And are you still ‘straightened’? :D

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    no. i divorced said ‘straightener’ many years ago.

    wife #2 (known as ‘The Wife’) isn’t all that interested in that version of me.

  • Eric Olsen

    great responsess, thanks! Just got back from the 5 year-old’s kindergarten orientation. That was very disorienting: her teacher didn’t look much older than my other daughter.

  • Eric Olsen

    re my undergrad career: I don’t think it’s a coincidence I got all “A”s the two years I was seeing Miss Academic, and definitely did NOT the other two years

  • Eric Olsen

    oh, and I agree about the maturity factor: I was young AND immature

  • Duane

    Based on my own vast experiences with edjucashen, this is precisely why I think it’s a good idea for some people to take a few years post high-school and do the following:

    Move out of the folks’ house.
    Get a full-time job.
    Open a bank account.
    Buy your own groceries.
    Pay your own rent. Get roommates if necessary.
    Buy a car and make payments including insurance.
    Pay your own utilities.
    Buy your own clothes.
    Date but don’t get married.
    Read. Don’t watch too much TV.
    Think about what you want to be doing in your 30s.
    After you have a pretty good idea, go back to school and kick ass.

    I have nothing against blue collars, but the fear this experience instilled in me was plenty of motivation to study my ass off. I started college when I was 21.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Duane — That’s sound, sound reason right there. Vast majority of undergrads have no idea why they’re in school except that that’s the expectation. The future’s a ball of fuzz, there’s no pressure to pay bills (in many cases), little supervision, and little to no hand holding to study, thus the impulse to party-Party-PARTY…

  • JR

    Hey kids, sick of listening to your parents and teachers nag? Move out now, while you still know everything.

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/blog/ Mark Sahm

    I suggest a halfway point between college and Duane’s suggestion.

    Parents should make their kids get at least a part-time job while at school, a checking account, a limited credit card, and not give any stipends to spend on anything other than food and housing.

    And there’s always a plethora of campus jobs: in 4 years, I worked as a RA, an A/V assistant, campus security, and telemarketer.

    The jobs paid for all of my beerly needs, and I also learned the value of work for the future.

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/blog/ Mark Sahm

    P.S. I rarely studied and got a 3.4 GPA. But as my college friends will tell you, it was because I was a creative writing and fine art dual major.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Mark, you make a ton of sense as well.

    That said, I was an RA, delivered pizza, worked at the dining hall, and at the crappiest music store on the planet (Tape World) during school.

    And yet I still found oodles of time to veg out, party, and *not* study.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/cmpwrite/ Connie Phillips

    Very interesting facts and comments. I’m watching my niece who just started her freshman year at college this week and find myself saying “If only I could go back and do it right.”

    Hmmm, maybe I should. (As I again revisit thoughts of finishing my abandonded degree before sending my kids to college)

  • Eric Olsen

    my older daughter, who is will a junior in college this year, took a year off between high school and college for Americorps, which worked out brilliantly: she learned to be both self-sufficient and to work in a team, she earned some college money, and became quite focused. She has done very well so far in college after an (in my opinion) underachieving high school career.

    My son is going straight in, though, he just graduated from HS and is joining his sister at the university

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    I would bet that people who do some kind of service at the age of 18-20 or so and then enter college do phenomenally better than your average 18-22/23 four/five-year grad.

  • Duane

    That’s good advice there, Mark. You’re suggesting some actions that might apply to all kids just entering college. My advice was just for those who have no idea what they want to do.

    When I was 17, my only interest was rock/pop guitar, which my parents actually supported, once I started getting paid for it anyway. I moved out of the house so I could live with my girlfriend. I also had a day job as a shipping clerk loading trucks. Between these two jobs, I got a pretty fair taste of what it means to be “the help.” Through my reading, I got excited about an entirely different career, quit the day job, kept the night job, and went back to school. As school began to dominate my time and interest I gave up the band biz at age 23, which I still don’t regret (it’s an ugly business). I lived off student loans and part-time work until grad school, where I got a teaching assistant job, which paid all the bills.

    Well, everyone has their own story. The people I ended up with in grad school had mostly suffered very little in the way of indecision in choosing their careers. I just know that had I gone straight to college, my attention would have been divided to the point of becoming a mediocre student, leading eventually to who knows what kind of job. I think that choosing a major with no real experience in or knowledge of the outside world can, in many cases, lead to middle-aged job dissatisfaction.

    My son is going into 6th grade, and I have no rules for his future. I intend to provide as much leeway as possible, in the same way that I was provided a lot of freedom by my parents. We’ll just wait and see what develops. Right now he’s torn between paleoarchaeology and professional Halo stud.

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/blog/ Mark Sahm

    Duane: I know exactly what you mean by being the “help”.

    After my freshman year of college, I came home and worked for my hometown’s water department for the summer. Every so often, the foreman of the crew would make me use the jackhammer to open a hole in the street.

    This mass of metal weighed about 70 pounds (at the time, I weighed 150), and you lift it up and down while holding down the pressure switch, do a dotted line pattern in the shape of a 4′ square in 95 degree heat in full sun…

    And suddenly, I realized the value of my education was that I would never ever do hard labor again. Good motivation.

  • Eric Olsen

    good workout, though

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/blog/ Mark Sahm

    No kidding. Using a jackhammer in the summer definitely gives you perspective about complaining about your desk job making you tired. My arms felt like they were going to fall off after 20 minutes, and I was in great shape at the time.

  • Eric Olsen

    we should all push away from the computer and go jackhammer for a while

  • http://www.myspace.com/destructiontheory Brandon Deel

    well i think that women make better students due to the lack of testosterone men on the other hand are just not meant to sit at a desk we have to much energy for that. thats why manual labor exists

  • Steve

    Well, this comment is not about colleges or universities but I think it relates to some of your comments about the sexes in school environments at least…

    I remember watching a show a year or two ago called “That’ll Teach Them” made by British TV’s Channel 4 which was about 16 year old British students who had to go to a school for the summer that had classes organised like they were in the 1950’s.

    Long story short, the boys were more disciplined in the 1950’s school than they were in their 21st century school because there were more classes involving physical activities (mechanics, brick wall building, learning to drive cars, etc.).

    Apparently, in the UK, high school is alot more knowledge and theory oriented now and less practical than in the 50’s, which favors girls over boys generally.