On the first day back from Christmas break, I started my senior year of college. My first class was a general education course that I had been putting off – American Government. As the students started trickling in, the professor scanned the room while settling in, himself. He began the class with a social experiment – one I wasn’t unfamiliar with.
He asked the class to think of the grade they want to leave with at the end of the semester. Undoubtedly, mostly everyone will say they will leave with an A. Then he asked the second question, “How many hours do you plan on studying for my class weekly?” The “overachievers,” as the many students would classify them, usually say eight hours or more, but the better part of the class says two to three hours.
When the results from the two questions are compared, it is easy to see that the majority of the class wants to walk out with an A at the end of the semester. They expect to achieve it, for lack of better words, but with minimal effort.
The point professors want to make is a student has to work hard and actually has to make time to study. Not just any amount of time, though, a lot of time.
The rule of thumb is to study two to three hours outside class for every unit a student is enrolled in. If a class is three units, students should be spending no less than six hours a week focusing on that class outside the classroom.
This is the average amount of time, so for those wanting an A, six hours is not going to cut it.
Students should not expect to get an extraordinary grade when they put below average effort into their work. It just does not work that way. Having that mindset will damage and limit the amount of success a student will have while in school and can be carried into the workplace.
Students must take ownership of the grade they receive in class. It is not fair to hold professors to a standard without holding ourselves to the same level of capability.
As bad as this is, I hold others to a standard that will benefit me in some way, but often lack the self-accountability to do things on my own that in the end is what defines my success.
What I mean by this is that I’m part of a generation living in the U.S. that for the most part has had things handed to us. A lot of what I have, I didn’t have to work for. It was given to me by parents because they were the ones striving for better and best.
It is both a blessing and a curse. I’m better off than most of the people living in the world, but I expect achievement to be handed to me, or at the very least be made easy for me to obtain at the expense of those above me doing all the hard work.
Although I generally try very hard in all my classes, and put significant effort in, I get lazy and slack off from time to time. I put things off until the last minute and expect to get an A. Most of the time I end up getting the A, but it cost me an entire night of sleep and an over-caffeinated body.
I’ve always been the type of person who did not have to try very hard to succeed academically. It wasn’t until I got to college that all of that changed. I now have to try very hard to achieve the As that once came naturally.
There have been those cases where I’m not where I want to be academically. I will get my grade report on BlackBoard and be stunned to see that C or B. I automatically think it is the professor’s fault and that surely he or she made a mistake. I scan through my graded assignments and see some zeroes and others that I didn’t get full credit on.
While still in the mindset of wanting to confront my professor about his or her so-called mistakes, I stop and reflect about each assignment. I think to myself, “Oh, yes, I didn’t turn that assignment in because I was at the concert that night, and yeah, I didn’t put that much effort into that paper because I put it off and was tired from work the night I wrote it.”
The grades I get are reflective of the amount of time and effort I put into it. Mind blown, right? Probably, but it shouldn’t be. That is common sense, but too common that students often completely overlook it.
Hard work over an amount of time brings forth success and triumph. Hard work over all-nighters doesn’t.