In a rather intriguing exposé, the New York Times outlines studies which reveal the rise in the tendency for present day college students to consider cheating as the means to getting good grades, rather than setting the time aside to study. Strangely, this trait was not limited to average students, as even high-performing students embrace taking such a detour, rather than the higher road, when seeking to maximize their grades potential.
Among several reasons given in the study, the most glaring culprit for this occurrence is the difficulty most college students experience studying, when engaged in academic work.
A discussion on the news aggregator and social media platform, Reddit, point to the difference between the modern day college life in comparison to 30 years prior. Differences like the ease in getting lucrative jobs are noted, the importance of college courses to getting employment after school; responses also show that the amount of courses required to complete college credits were fewer back then.
Taking all these into consideration, we look at other reasons modern day students might be showing a disinterest in college studies.
Increase in skills and knowledge required to make the grade
In a largely industrial work environment, college courses were straightforward and were included in students’ curriculum to meet the demand in the workforce. Plant operators, engineers, data processors, etc., on conclusion of the academic duration, undergraduates turned graduates found it easier to identify their role in the work sector and seamlessly fit into these roles.
However, presently, with the progress in development and technology, students are required to have knowledge of new skills to fit into employment bracket. In the 1980s, computer literacy stood as a field on its own. In the present day, one of the fundamental skills every grad must possess is proficiency in computer applications.
In addition to this, other skills like communication, data mining and processing, sales and presentation are gradually becoming must-haves for graduates.
This has led to more courses and larger curricula for college students. Students now have to spend 16 to 18 hour stretches in the library or in the study room, planning to meet the demand and ease the work load of their college courses.
Availability of more choices and more college options
Presently, not only do students have more college courses to study for; within the school system, they have more courses available, as majors. As new courses are introduced, students can have a wider range of options to select from.
The selection of traditional courses i.e. in the medical sector, Engineering, Law, the social sciences and Art etc. are now giving way to newer and more inventive courses like Data Engineering, Machine learning, Data Processing, Landscape Design, Materials Technology, Artificial Intelligence and others.
In the past, Data processing was a new industry or largely non-existent. Presently, as more data from different industries become available to mine and create useful patterns, experts in this field are being sought after. Artificial Intelligence, formerly a reserved field, with ICT, video games and evaluating and predicting consumer behavior, is gradually gaining momentum into mainstream skill requirements.
Newly created courses create a conflict in students’ choices as viable and more exciting alternatives from students’ perceptions. One of the reasons for interest in these courses could be passion. However, as new industries and thus new opportunities are being created, another could be the access to more value and better financial compensation packages.
The availability of options creates a fog, with students thinking there could be dire circumstances of life-threatening proportion, if changes are not made.
The distraction of technology
In the commencement speech given to outgoing students of Dillard University, actor and Academy award winner, Denzel Washington, makes a case for the twit, text, and twerk features of the current environment. This statement accurately depicts the distraction prevalent in the use of technology.
The evolution in technology has come at the price of the provision of several options of communication and access to information for the modern student. With instant access to friends, chat mates around the world, games, movies and entertainment etc. within the reach of every student, blocking out time to study seem herculean by comparison.
A 2015 study from the Pew Research Center reveal that as much as 90% of students and young adults are actively engaged in social media. Facebook, Instagram, Yik Yak, Snap Chat are among those which head the list for the most intuitive platforms. Notably, though the interests vary continually, the research reports, at least one social media platform tend to hold attention at any given time, and have become an integral part of student life.
The new development in technology has not come without its benefits though. With the demand on students’ time, different services have been created to enable present students work smart, to meet the workload of college education. For example, with a simple search like “write my research paper for me” online, students now have access to experts who provide constructive input to their college writing requirements. The efficacy of the internet has also helped to ensure students can communicate with counterparts from colleges in other parts of the world, and get suggestions or answers to burning questions.
Also, students now have quicker access to happenings in the work industry, new developments, and anything that can help the student be more productive in the workplace.
College – Work – Life Balance
The search for jobs during college years, in the past, was aimed at gaining meaningful skills and experience in the work environment, prior to graduation. However, presently, as college tuition costs escalates and student loans rise higher, seeking part-time employment while at college could be more of necessity rather than luxury.
With more and more students having to manage non-college activities in addition to college requirements, studying for courses thus present a difficult objective, on a regular basis.
However, as it is important to prepare long term toward the desirable future, productive management of day-to-day commitments should be every student’s priority, placing in descending order, the important activities first.
Harvard educator, David Perkins, suggests that despite the difference between the past and the present, students would do well to still achieve what he classified as the education – life balance. This is because the possession of premium education as the evaluative measure of expertise might not be going anytime soon. He asserts that, it isn’t because the model isn’t flawed; it is in the lieu of a more credible alternative.
So in the absence of a more streamlined method, college students in the adventure of trying several options, would do great to keep the education option open. This, he suggests, could help the student gain several grounded experiences, generate excitement for daily activities, and connect the dots; experiences that might most likely be missing in the workplace.