Recommended study hours may be unmanageable for some students

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Photo Credit: Lillian Michel, Lindsay Rojas, and Iliana Storch | Daily Texan Staff

Nearly every student is familiar with the mantra that professors repeat during syllabus week, “For every one hour you are in class, students should spend two hours studying,” — but this may not be practical for the average student.

The saying is a known campus guideline, and can even be found on the website for the UT course catalog. UT students averaging 15 hours of class a week should be accumulating 30 hours of preparation and work outside of class, creating a 45-hour work week. This could potentially mean nine hour days Monday through Friday, leaving little time for other activities. 

Biology fifth-year senior Jake Greenfield, who said his schedule doesn’t allow for that amount of time, started in community college at 29 and began attending UT at the age of 31.

“It is pretty tough for me to manage those kinds of hours,” Greenfield said. “I’m involved with jobs and studying for the GRE. It is a challenge to juggle that kind of school workload if I am not just a student.” 

Greenfield said the course surveys used to evaluate professors at the end of the semester should question how many hours outside of class students spent on a particular course to get a more realistic view of the topic. 

“I think that statement is very general,” Greenfield said. “Every semester I have some classes where I can study 15 minutes for a class and others that I need to devote nine to 10 hours a week to.”

Between meetings, classes and waiting tables, Greenfield, who usually leaves his apartment by 7 a.m. doesn’t return until 11 p.m.

“I never thought I would be this busy,” Greenfield said. “My philosophy professor told us we should expect to read our textbook 10 times that semester, which was pretty unrealistic.”

Marketing lecturer Steven Brister said doing two hours of work for every one hour of class is a good guideline for an average week when students are planning time to study and prepare. His 90-minute class, which meets twice a week, has weekly reading assignments that require about 1.5 hours of work outside of class, as well as other projects and exams that will take up additional study time. 

“Most students who don’t do well on the exams have too many constraints in their time,” Brister said. “There wasn’t enough time for them to learn it all or keep up on the readings.” 

Brister said two hours for every one hour of class is manageable for the average student, but he acknowledged that many students are involved in things outside of school, making it difficult to accomplish the recommended hours.

“Most students are heavily involved on and off campus, which results in trade-offs,” Brister said. “Compared to when I was a student, life was a lot simpler with easier classes and less to do. The bar has been raised.”  

Religious studies sophomore Patrick Golden said he does not follow the “rule.” He said that for certain courses at UT, students have to put in the practice every night to do the work, but for other classes he has found a way around the suggested two-hour requirement.

“This isn’t manageable,” Golden said. “Especially for students who come from families where they have to work or for students that want to be involved in student organizations or internships.” 

Golden typically stays busy with his five-hour-a-week internship, membership in two student organizations, volunteering at the Liberal Arts Honors office and hanging out with friends. 

“I am taking Arabic right now, which is my first opportunity to put the two-hour rule into place,” Golden said. “Most of the time I find a roundabout way to cheat the system. Homework becomes the backdrop of my day, everyday, since I live an 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. life.”