Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa

2. Social and Academic Learning in College

  • For most, college is the first time away from home without direct parental oversight. The social life they face is often associated with tailgating at sporting events or the excessive drinking and initiation practices of Greek like. Colleges also provide a wide variety of other diversions via clubs, activities, and just hanging out in dorms or student unions. It’s the centrality of the social sphere naturally raises questions about academics.
  • A big piece of the social process is learning how to get along with others. College is different in that classes are populated with people from all over who don’t all resemble the students from high school. Students report that they feel more globally connected and come to understand different people and cultures. They feel like they have become more complete individuals and more open to different things. They also feel that their social experiences are a benefit for subsequent labor market pursuits. The people skills they gain help them at work and when they have to manage others.
  • As for academics, seniors in the sample spent an average of fourteen hours in class and twelve hours studying outside of class. This is only 15% of their total time. Social time, meanwhile, occupied 46%, more than the 26% devoted to sleep. These time allocations where about the same as previous years. The academic time is less than in all but one European countries. In spite of the low amount of academic time, the average GPA was 3.33. As for CLA results, the average gain was only 18%tile points, yet they generally reported that they had learned a lot academically and socially. This is no surprise as people generally over estimate their own competence. The students who did gain the most tended to have higher SATs and selected more difficult majors. The big gainers were also more likely to go to graduate school. When asked if their education was worth the average $25,000 debt, most thought not, and they usually said that their degrees did not adequately prepare them well for the labor market.
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