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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Big Q Blog

College students at a party

College students at a party


Balancing good times with studying proves difficult.

Starting the first week of Will's freshman year at a large state university, there was always a party going on. There were frat parties, tailgates, theme parties, and dances. Even within Will's dorm, some group was always having a good time--playing poker, watching movies, or just hanging out.

At first, Will enjoyed the social scene and getting to know people; he didn't see a problem with adjusting to the social atmosphere before really getting into the academics. But two months into college, he found himself behind in a couple of classes, and handing in work that he wasn't very proud of. He would promise himself to study, but then get sidetracked when one of his buddies dropped by his room and asked him to go out.

Will had come to college to prepare himself for a career in law, and he knew he needed to perform reasonably well to get into law school. But he also figured that college was supposed to the best time in his life, which it certainly wasn't going to be if all he did was study. What was the right balance? What difference would it make either way?

Facts and Resources

About 29 percent of incoming students chose their colleges based on the reputation of their "social activities." - Chronicle of Higher Education, 2003

Most guides recommend about 2 hours of study a week for each hour in the classroom. Generally this will work out to between 30 and 45 hours. But the National Survey of Student Engagement found that many students try to get by on far less. Of freshmen at four-year residential colleges, only 12 percent spent 26 hours or more preparing for class.

"A" students average 3.1 drinks per week
"B" students average 4.4 drinks per week
"C" students averages 5.6 drinks per week
"D" and "F" students average 9.5 drinks per week The Bacchus Network

A Framework for Ethical Decision Making


Photo by mel_rowling available under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.