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College Freshmen Spent Less Time Studying and More Time Surfing the Net, UCLA Study Reveals

College Freshmen Spent Less Time Studying and More Time Surfing the Net, UCLA Study Reveals


Freshmen are spending less time studying or doing homework and more time using the Internet in the year prior to entering college, according to the results of UCLA’s annual survey of the nation’s students entering undergraduate classes at four-year colleges and universities. Additionally, the survey shows that despite the continued decline in time devoted to schoolwork, students’ high school grade point averages continue to climb.

The fall 2002 survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies finds that a record-low number (33.4 percent) of today’s entering freshmen reports studying or doing homework six or more hours per week during their senior year in high school. This figure is down from last year’s previous low of 34.9 percent and a high of 47 percent in 1987, when the question was first asked. The percentage of students studying less than one hour per week has nearly doubled (from 8.5 to 15.9 percent) over the past 15 years.

“One factor that may contribute to these marked declines in homework and study time is the increasing use of computers, and the Internet in particular,” says Linda Sax, UCLA education professor and director of the survey.

Frequent use of personal computers hit a record 83.9 percent in 2002, compared to 82 percent last year. The percentage of freshmen indicating that they used the Internet for research or homework during their last year in high school also has increased (from 74.5 percent in 2001 to 78.4 percent in 2002).

“It is unclear if computer and Internet use has enabled students to complete their homework in less time, or whether the time students spend using the computer simply takes away from the time that they could be spending on their studies,” Sax says. The percentage of students surfing the Internet for “other” uses (excluding studying or research for homework) increased from 52.2 percent in 2000 to 61.6 percent in 2002.

Now in its 37th year, the UCLA Survey is the nation’s longest-standing and most comprehensive assessment of student attitudes and plans. Conducted in association with the American Council on Education, the survey serves as a resource for higher education researchers throughout the world.

The 2002 freshman norms are based on the responses of 282,549 students at 437 of the nation’s baccalaureate colleges and universities. The data have been statistically adjusted to reflect the responses of the 1.2 million first-time, full-time students entering four-year colleges and universities as freshmen in 2002.

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