What gives when it all piles up?

By Zach Broeren

Time management problems are no stranger to Denison students. Four classes already provide enough work for one week, but then you start to become more involved with clubs that eat up your time on weekdays. Social events start to take priority on the weekends as you realize it’s your best (if not only) time to see your friends. Before you know it, there isn’t any time left in the week to do the crucial studying you need for your next class. So what do you do?

You start skipping things. You start triaging certain events in your life into categories of “I should definitely do that” and “Will it really matter if I skip?” This is a situation Denison Students find themselves in all too often and constantly find themselves making those decisions. In the March 2021 survey, Denison students were asked “Have you ever skipped any of the following in order to have more time for studying/homework?” and were told to check as many as apply from the choices shown in the figure below:

Unsurprisingly, Denison students skip activities that have the least negative effect first to find more study time, which are hanging out and sleeping (what is the difference between 8 hours and 5 hours of sleep anyways?). On the opposite side of the spectrum, skipping a class had the lowest skip rate due to the negative effects of an unexcused absence. However, this should not take away from the fact that a significant portion of Denison students were skipping their activities in order to make more time to study.

This data could seem somewhat alarming to the average reader who believes that just about everyone is constantly skipping activities to make more time for studying. But, so far, the data says little about the kinds of students that are skipping their activities. There is at least one subset of students who seem to be more susceptible to skipping: those who are involved.

As students become more involved with organizations and keep piling them on, they report skipping a wider range of activities. Is it any wonder that those involved in more than 6 types of activities would also need to skip the widest range of activities in order to study? Fortunately, the average is a relatively sane 2.5 activities, which is linked to somewhat less skipping.

If Denison students are sacrificing certain activities on campus to free up more time for studying, was it all in vain? Does skipping class, a meal, or seeing your friends actually translate into tangible results that will help you at Denison? Yes and No. When looking at whether or not skipping actually equates to more time spent studying, one may be inclined to actually say no. It is possible that those who have to skip activities are poor managers of time and they are skipping activities to study more in the present because they did not set aside enough time to study beforehand.

The data says otherwise, however. While not a staggeringly large difference, there is a clear rise in the number of hours spent studying per day and skipping activities, where those who have skipped all 6 activities study about an hour more everyday than those who have never skipped. It would appear that the preconceived notion that those who skip activities are lazy may be false. While more studying is always perceived to be a good outcome, does skipping more actually equate to a higher GPA?

The answer is not really. Most students have skipped something and they have about the same average GPA. The one group that stands out is the few people who have not sacrificed anything for their studies. Their GPA is about 0.15 points lower. It’s not wildly different, but suggests that they may not be prioritizing their studies.

Beyond the hours studying and the GPA achieved, there is another important factor facing students who have skipped and who may skip: how did it affect their mental health? Does skipping allow for a short mental breather that improves one’s mental well being or does it do the opposite?

Those who skipped are clearly under more stress. Asked on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being “as chill as a cucumber” and 100 being “stressed to full capacity”, there is a clear and sudden rise in between the amount of things a student had skipped and an increase in their stress levels, where those who have never skipped report a stress level of 50 versus those who have skipped all 6 activities reporting stress levels of about 65, a 15 point increase. This makes a lot of sense, as students who are skipping activities to study/do homework are generally doing the work closer to deadlines since they have run out of time and are starting to feel the pressure of the clock.

Skipping is an unfortunate situation that most Denisonians will find themselves in at some point while on the Hill. We can try to avoid it all we want but sometimes our schedules get the best of us and sacrifices must be made. For those who wish to employ skipping as a tactic to help generate more time to study, is it worth it? While those who are doing it may feel like they are doing better academically because they are studying more, ultimately there is little outward sign of gain. We could not find a correlation between GPA and skipping any amount greater than 0 in regards to your GPA, while our data would suggest that those who skip more are more stressed. The solution for Denisonians may lie in better organizational habits to prevent skipping out on life’s daily necessities.

Zach Broeren, a Junior at Denison University currently majoring in Political Science, is now starting to figure out too late he probably should have majored in Data Analytics.

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