168 Hours

After reading this story about a father dealing with his daughter’s middle school homework I decided to do a blog post about homework and the amount of time students have. It’s a really good article but quite long. But give it a read and think about your homework or your children’s homework load.

Lately I’ve been absolutely swamped with homework. I’m a senior in college so I accept this as fact. However, as I’ve been more and more swamped I’ve been thinking about homework, it’s purpose and why teachers insist on adding more and more homework that seems just like busy work for high level college students. I’ve told my parents what exactly my course load entails. My father, who didn’t finish college, thinks it’s normal. College is supposed to hard, he says. I agree. However it should be challenging. Not mind melting. My mother, who did finish college, says that my course load sounds a lot harder than what she did.

So after that conversation and a particularly harrowing weekend of tears and homework, I did the math on homework in college. This math included what all ‘experts’ say you should do. So get eight hours of sleep, work out, etc. This also assumes you are working at some sort of part time job. If you’re not working then those hours can be added to the ending total. I’m using my experience and school schedule so keep that in mind too, I’m taking 18 credit hours. Some people take more some people take less. So let’s begin.

Weekly hours: 168

So there are 168 hours in a week. Sounds like a lot I suppose. So lets start breaking the categories down:

Class: 18 hours

Now not only am I in class for 18 hours a week but these hours are spread out all over the place. For example I have class on Monday from 12-2 then an hour break then a three hour class from 3-6, Tuesday I have class at 9:30-10:45, then a three hour break, then class from 2-5, Wednesday I have class from 12-3:15, Thursdays are the same as Tuesdays, then Friday I have class from 12-2.

Confused yet?

Here’s picture that will help:

Keep in mind that this is just my classes. The calender shows from about 9am to 8pm. So now I’m going to add in my work schedule. I work about 13-15 hours a week.
My work is really awesome and I don’t have to work every weekend. However this means that this semester I am going to have a lot of trouble paying rent. Think about that for a moment. Let’s round down and say I get paid 7 dollars an hour after taxes. 13 hours a week a 7/hr = 91 dollars a week. So I get paid a little less than 400 dollars a month. I would round even further down to roughly 350 a month. My rent is 280 a month. So after paying rent I would have 70 dollars left over. After paying for bills I have no money. So in order to make ends meet I would have to not spend any money on anything else and always make it to work. If I’m  sick for one day it could really mess up my whole month. I also have no money left over for groceries!
I know that my job wants me to survive. They know I’m struggling but they simply can’t give me more hours. I don’t blame them. I understand they simply don’t have the need nor do I have the available hours because of my schedule.
So back to the weekly hours, we started with 168 and now have 18 hours of classes and 13 hours of work. We are down to 137 hours. Still seems like a lot left over.
Now we get to the homework. 
Oh lord the homework. According to my university students are expected to spend roughly 2-3 hours on homework per hour of classtime. So 18 x 3 = 54.
Fifty. Four. Hours. Of homework. That’s more than a full time job. Not to mention I already have a job and classes. 
It’s insanity to expect that of people.
So now we have 137 – 54 = 83
Still feeling fairly good, 83 is a lot of hours left over. 
You haven’t slept yet. ‘Experts’ tell college students all the time that we should get eight hours of sleep a night. And we laugh and make more coffee.
8 x 7 =56. 
83 – 56 = 27
Woah. Not so many hours left now. Now we still have to go to the gym because ‘experts’ tell us that we need to work out about an hour a day, sometimes more sometimes less depending on the person. So let’s just round up and say about 10 hours a week.
So now we’re down to 17 hours a week.
None of this includes extracurricular activities, if you belong to a fraternity or sorority, are you an athlete, do you need to go get groceries, do you work more than 13 hours a week, do you commute to your work or school? 
All of these things are expected of students both before college and during college. Everyone is telling us that we need to do all of these things but we simply don’t have the time. You can’t get milk from a stone. Universities and high schools and even middle schools need to reevaluate what they expect of their students. It’s been proven in many studies that the way schools operate is just not as productive as they could be. 
I’m not trying to start an argument about No Child Left Behind or anything. All I’m saying is that the research proves that despite everyone’s efforts the United States is lagging behind other countries. Research also proves that we need to change something, I don’t know what it is but I don’t want my kids to be going through this type of schooling. There is no room for kids to be kids any more. 
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