American college students study less than they used to. According to an NPR piece by Jacob Goldstein:

The amount of time college students spent studying fell from 40 hours per week in 1960 to 27 hours per week in 2003, a new study found.

There are lots of non-slacker reasons for this to be the case: More students work now, students pursue different majors, more students go to school part-time.

But none of these explanations account for the decline.

It turns out that everyone, across majors, financial backgrounds, ethnic groups, and current employment status, spends less time studying than in the last 50 years.

Why is this? Well it might be slacking off. But it might have something to do with what the report defines as “studying.” It’s not just about the time with flashcards, learning and memorizing French verb declensions and organic chemistry reactions. Studying here actually includes all school work.

It appears the advent of the computer alone can explain virtually of this. Consider the amount of time it took to write and research a term paper in 1960. It takes undergraduate students a lot less time now. That’s not because students are lazier; that’s just because it’s actually much faster to find and verify information.

Never mind how much easier it is just to type the paper. Sometimes those time saving devices actually do help people save time.Though one wonders what students do with those extra thirteen hours a week. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer