Friday, January 28, 2011
Working Less, Feeling Worse
Since I just reported on a survey that says college freshmen and sophomores doe 10 hours less studying per week than they did 40 years ago, I feel compelled to post this survey that shows doing less work is not making students any happier. The same survey finds that 75 percent of students think they are working harder than average.
The declining emotional health of undergraduates is a great puzzle to me. Part of my problem is that I loved college and have never been happier, so I have trouble understanding why other people find it so miserable. College is a time to revel in being young, and to imagine great things for the future. So why are so many students sad?
From talking to other professors I get a sense that many students these days are very bound up in their home lives; professors tell me they regularly get excuses like, "My sister was sick so I had to go home to be with my family." Perhaps a generation of people so wrapped up in family life find it traumatic to leave home. The other thing that occurs to me is the thing I harp on all the time, how the freedom young people now have to shape their own lives is experienced mainly as anxiety about how to find work, love, and home.
I am pleased to report that my eldest son is helping to keep down the number of boys who feel "overwhelmed" during their senior year of high school.