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"homework" in college.

Close up of student holding a piece of paper

Since coming to Harvard, I don’t recall even once hearing the word “homework”—which is a pretty strange thing considering the role it played for the first 12 years of my education (spoiler alert: this doesn’t mean that we don’t have assignments and work to do).

However, the type of work that’s assigned in college is different from what I was used to in high school, so I’m here to break it down for you.

Problem Sets

Problem sets, or “psets”, are typically packets of questions that are assigned and due on a regular basis. Most of my pset classes have been math and science courses, although they don’t necessarily have to be. I think the biggest difference between psets in college compared to similar assignments in high school is that they can be really challenging, and many courses expect and encourage students to work together on them—I made some of my best friends while struggling through organic chemistry psets lasts year!

Completed homework with comments and a congratulatory sticker featuring a monkey

Sometimes you even get stickers.

Rather than lots of shorter assignments, many classes opt for a few essays spaced throughout the semester. Humanities classes (English, history, etc.) are typically essay classes, although many science classes also have you practice scientific writing through grant proposal or review-style papers. If you’re not super comfortable writing academic papers coming into college, not to worry! All freshmen take a writing course (Expos) during the first year to make sure that everyone is on the same foot. There’s a ton of individual feedback, so it can be really beneficial no matter what your level of writing is coming in.

Discussion Posts

Particularly if it’s an essay class, you might be assigned additional questions to respond to on an online forum for the course. It’s a nice way to keep people on track with the reading, and the responses are often used to start discussion in section.

*Most larger courses have weekly “sections” with 12-15 students and a teaching fellow leading discussion—it’s an opportunity to review the material and go more in-depth with the readings.

Reading (sometimes a lot of reading)

One of the bigger adjustments for some students is learning how to get through hundreds of pages of reading per week. Granted, this depends on what type of classes you’re taking—it is possible to tailor your schedule to an amount of reading that’s appropriate for you. I’ve found that my humanities classes have a much higher volume of reading, but that my science courses have denser reading—sometimes a seven page primary lit paper from a science journal takes me the same amount of time to read as forty pages in a novel. If you are struggling to get through all of your assigned reading, or just want to use your time more efficiently, the Bureau of Study Counsel offers “speed reading” courses during the year which are said to be really helpful!

Author with book over her face

I was found very diligently reading my book.

I have to say, I’ve had some pretty cool project assignments in college. In my multivariable calc class, our final project was to use Mathematica (a math tool) to come up with equations that would form a 3D object, so I made and printed a 3D minion. In a genetics class, we spent the semester analyzing our own DNA in lab, looking for markers that might indicate lactose intolerance, ancestral history, etc. (I wasn’t lactose intolerant, thankfully.) One of my friends is in a Folklore and Mythology class on quilt making, and her final project is to make a quilt. Pretty cool, huh?

Photograph of author holding a toy "minion" from the film "Despicable Me"

My minion!!

Ah yes, not one to forget. On the plus side, there tend to be fewer exams in college than in high school—for classes that do have exams, you would likely only have 1-2 midterms and a final. Studying is often more effective in a group, so it’s another chance to meet people in your class!

Whew! While this is not a complete list, hopefully it gives a sense of the type of work you might be asked to do here. You can choose a schedule of classes that’s a good fit for you—while some people really like taking four essay classes or four pset classes at once, for example, I always try to strike a balance halfway in between. Particularly if you’re taking classes that you’re really interested in, the work doesn’t even seem so bad. :)

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what college homework like

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College Homework: What You Need to Know

  • April 1, 2020

Samantha "Sam" Sparks

  • Future of Education

Despite what Hollywood shows us, most of college life actually involves studying, burying yourself in mountains of books, writing mountains of reports, and, of course, doing a whole lot of homework.

Wait, homework? That’s right, homework doesn’t end just because high school did: part of parcel of any college course will be homework. So if you thought college is harder than high school , then you’re right, because in between hours and hours of lectures and term papers and exams, you’re still going to have to take home a lot of schoolwork to do in the comfort of your dorm.

College life is demanding, it’s difficult, but at the end of the day, it’s fulfilling. You might have had this idealized version of what your college life is going to be like, but we’re here to tell you: it’s not all parties and cardigans.

How Many Hours Does College Homework Require?

Stress from homework

Here’s the thing about college homework: it’s vastly different from the type of takehome school activities you might have had in high school.

See, high school students are given homework to augment what they’ve learned in the classroom. For high school students, a majority of their learning happens in school, with their teachers guiding them along the way.

In college, however, your professors will encourage you to learn on your own. Yes, you will be attending hours and hours of lectures and seminars, but most of your learning is going to take place in the library, with your professors taking a more backseat approach to your learning process. This independent learning structure teaches prospective students to hone their critical thinking skills, perfect their research abilities, and encourage them to come up with original thoughts and ideas.

Sure, your professors will still step in every now and then to help with anything you’re struggling with and to correct certain mistakes, but by and large, the learning process in college is entirely up to how you develop your skills.

This is the reason why college homework is voluminous: it’s designed to teach you how to basically learn on your own. While there is no set standard on how much time you should spend doing homework in college, a good rule-of-thumb practiced by model students is 3 hours a week per college credit . It doesn’t seem like a lot, until you factor in that the average college student takes on about 15 units per semester. With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that a single, 3-unit college class would usually require 9 hours of homework per week.

But don’t worry, college homework is also different from high school homework in how it’s structured. High school homework usually involves a take-home activity of some kind, where students answer certain questions posed to them. College homework, on the other hand, is more on reading texts that you’ll discuss in your next lecture, studying for exams, and, of course, take-home activities.

Take these averages with a grain of salt, however, as the average number of hours required to do college homework will also depend on your professor, the type of class you’re attending, what you’re majoring in, and whether or not you have other activities (like laboratory work or field work) that would compensate for homework.

Do Students Do College Homework On the Weekends?

Again, based on the average number we provided above, and again, depending on numerous other factors, it’s safe to say that, yes, you would have to complete a lot of college homework on the weekends.

Using the average given above, let’s say that a student does 9 hours of homework per week per class. A typical semester would involve 5 different classes (each with 3 units), which means that a student would be doing an average of 45 hours of homework per week. That would equal to around 6 hours of homework a day, including weekends.

That might seem overwhelming, but again: college homework is different from high school homework in that it doesn’t always involve take-home activities. In fact, most of your college homework (but again, depending on your professor, your major, and other mitigating factors) will probably involve doing readings and writing essays. Some types of college homework might not even feel like homework, as some professors encourage inter-personal learning by requiring their students to form groups and discuss certain topics instead of doing take-home activities or writing papers. Again, lab work and field work (depending on your major) might also make up for homework.


Remember: this is all relative. Some people read fast and will find that 3 hours per unit per week is much too much time considering they can finish a reading in under an hour.The faster you learn how to read, the less amount of time you’ll need to devote to homework.

College homework is difficult, but it’s also manageable. This is why you see a lot of study groups in college, where your peers will establish a way for everyone to learn on a collective basis, as this would help lighten the mental load you might face during your college life. There are also different strategies you can develop to master your time management skills, all of which will help you become a more holistic person once you leave college.

So, yes, your weekends will probably be chock-full of schoolwork, but you’ll need to learn how to manage your time in such a way that you’ll be able to do your homework and socialize, but also have time to develop your other skills and/or talk to family and friends.

College Homework Isn’t All That Bad, Though


Sure, you’ll probably have time for parties and joining a fraternity/sorority, even attend those mythical college keggers (something that the person who invented college probably didn’t have in mind). But I hate to break it to you: those are going to be few and far in between. But here’s a consolation, however: you’re going to be studying something you’re actually interested in.

All of those hours spent in the library, writing down papers, doing college homework? It’s going to feel like a minute because you’re doing something you actually love doing. And if you fear that you’ll be missing out, don’t worry: all those people that you think are attending those parties aren’t actually there because they, too, will be busy studying!

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AHHH! What's college homework like?

<p>I’ve wondered just how hard the homework assignments are, or if there’s even any… I’ve hear stories about getting used to writing 10 paged to 30 paged research papers regularly to doing absolutely in class. What’s the average homework load like? How does homework differ if you’re going for a BS instead of a BA? Do certain classes have reputations for giving out unending amounts of homework? Any of those ridiculously easy fill-in-the-blank worksheets?</p>

<p>AHHH! There is none. Almost nothing is required of you except for taking tests. Everything is voluntary… keep in mind it is practice for the class material.</p>

<p>Free will rulez!!!11</p>

<p>I do all practice just because I can.</p>

<p>I’m a liberal arts student on the quarter system. College doesn’t really have “homework” as you’re thinking about it. Generally, you’ll be responsible for preparing (reading and studying) on average, I’d guess, a few hundred pages per week per class. Your grade will probably be based on a few tests and sometimes quizzes and a few papers. Some classes are entirely based on these papers. The longer ones have approached 20 pages rather than 30, but many are in the 3-10 page range. Some classes are all test-based. It’s really dependent on the teacher.</p>

<p>Many of my classes have been at least mildly writing based, though. I did have a surprising amount of homework in a math class I took, which was typical problem set-work.</p>

<p>I’ve only had anything close to “fill-in-the-blank worksheets” for language classes (to help practice a difficult sort of verb conjugation, for example.)</p>

<p>Obviously it depends on what classes you take. In engineering classes (after first year) you get about 5 weekly assignments that take around 3-5 hours each. In math (after first year) you also get 5 weekly assignments that take about the same amount of time. Physics is again the same deal. First year assignments never took me that long to complete, though.</p>

<p>Other science majors aren’t as hardcore with assigning homework. My chemistry and biology classes didn’t even have assignments.</p>

<p>Oh yes. My friends in the engineering and sciences seemed to have weekly homework of some sort. No idea what the engineers were up to, but the sciencey people had labs to work on.</p>

<p>I’m not sure how your high school works, but at mine, science classes gave out nightly assignments. In college, you do problem sets which are generally due once a week, the idea being that you work on them throughout the week. In college you have to take a more active role managing your time. When it’s the night before a problem set is due and you haven’t started, you’ll wish you did. We’ve all been there. I’m a math major, and my weekly problem sets for math typically take 10-12 hours. I only took two writing-based courses my first year, but the papers I wrote were of the following lengths: [ul][<em>]3 pages (two papers) [</em>]5 pages (two papers) [<em>]8 pages (one paper) [</em>]12 papes (two papers)[/ul]</p>

<p>You get assigned 50 difficult problems per week in science classes, and 1 book + 2 essays a week in humanities classes.</p>

<p>If you fail to complete any assignment, you fail the class. You may redeem yourself in most classes by completing an optional 100-page-single-spaced thesis for extra credit.</p>

<p>I don’t get homework assignments… i make up my own or I fail.</p>

<p>This is definitely true for many classes. I have taken several that didn’t assign homework. But, I wouldn’t have earned As in them had I not done homework on my own.</p>

<p>My engineering/science classes typically had problem sets every week that took 8-12 hours to do. Humanities classes typically had reading and maybe a small writing assignment now and then.</p>

<p>Engineering generally has problem sets/HW every week and some of them take a hella long time…I remember last Fall when I took Analog Electronics the HW took me a whole week to do and sometimes I didn’t even finish…</p>

<p>homework is easy. any major projects/essay require 5 times more research than highschool.</p>

<p>homework is optional for most of my classes. of course, if you don’t do it, you won’t understand anything that is going on and fail all the in-class quizzes and fail your finals beautifully, but yes. it’s OPTIONAL :D</p>

<p>Whoaa! Homework is an option? Now it really isn’t like high school anymore but yeah I guess you really would need to do it so you can better understand the material and thus pass the quizzes/finals beautifully. This is why cheating is heavily condemned. Not so much because its unfair to those who worked their butte off for the grade but because you aren’t learning anything and you will eventually lose when you need that knowledge for the world outside of college.</p>

<p>I wish homework was optional for my classes. I do worse in homework than tests because I hate homework</p>

<p>Sometimes stuyding just isn’t enough. You need to do some practice problems (if math related) or some reading & writing for memoraization (if english related) just so it can stick in your head. But I guess that depends on what kind of a learner you are.</p>

<p>When I first got to college, I was expected to do papers about the same length as the ones I did in high school (5 - 15 pages), but where I’d be held to a higher standard. As I progressed, the papers got longer and the standards got higher. I was also expected to be able to manage with the guidance “It should be as long as you need to answer this question,” which basically meant I didn’t have the “training wheels” of information about how long the professor thought it should take to answer the question. I would suggest that for each class in which you are expected to write a paper, you would google “how to write a ____ paper” with the name of the discipline in the blank. You’ll learn that different fields have different expectations, and if you’ve been very successful writing English papers you may still need to learn something to write a good hisory paper.</p>

<p>I had problem sets. I only had them in math, linguistics and logic classes, where they were fairly easy. If you’re in a different kind of major than I was (and if you need to learn different things than I need to learn even today), you’re probably going to get tougher sets. </p>

<p>The biggest difference for me was the reading. There is a lot of it. You can google “how to read in college” or something and turn up guides for getting the most out of the books you read while going fast. I had one professor who routinely expected you to read 3 or 4 books a week, many of them out of print and only brought up for the first time in the class period in which they were assigned. He was pretty atypical, though. 5 or 6 books per class per semester was more common for me.</p>

<p>When I was in high school, I could just read small chunks of the textbook every day and then not pay attention to what happened in class, and get As. In college, there’s a lot more reading, and not all of it is going to be gone over in class. You’re going to be expected to learn more and more on your own through the assigned reading as you go through – there will be times when none of the reading and none of the subjects covered in the reading are discussed in class, and you’ll have to figure out how it relates.</p>

<p>You may be interested in reading Patrick Allitt’s book “I’m the Teacher, You’re the Student.” Allitt teaches history at Emory, and in the book he discusses one class from beginning to end. I believe it’s out of print, but your library may have it.</p>

<p>You may also be interested in the book “My Freshman Year” by Rebekah Nathan (a pseudonym for Cathy Small at Northern Arizona University). Small, an anthropologist, took a sabbatical, registered as a student at her school, and moved into a dorm to study student life as a participant-observer. There’s a certain amount of controversy about whether this was ethical, etc., and at least some students say she didn’t get things right, but you may find it useful.</p>

<p>Keep in mind that there are a lot of students in the same situation as you and administrators put a lot of pressure on faculty to find some justification for giving almost all of you passing grades. The firing of Steven D. Aird may have driven the point home, but it was hardly the first hint anybody who teaches got.</p>

<p>Of course homework is optional.</p>

<p>Quizzes are optional.</p>

<p>Papers are optional.</p>

<p>Exams are optional.</p>

<p>As one of my teachers used to point out, in college, everything is optional.</p>

<p>But if you make certain choices, then you’re also choosing to get an F.</p>

<p>It depends on the class and the school. </p>

<p>In my math class, we had assignments due 2-3x a week (mondays assignment was due wednesday, wednesday’s was due friday, friday was a quiz or an assignment due monday). It was done online and consisted of 10-15 problems. We then had an optional practice problems, which I wish I would have done because they would have helped me a ton even though we never turned them in! Lesson=do optional practice problems.</p>

<p>In my chemistry class, we had optional practice problems. They were never turned in, but it was stupid of you if you didn’t do them. We also were supposed to read the chapters in the book. It was like 1-2 chapters a week.</p>

<p>In other classes, we had reading assignments in the textbook that went along with our lesson. You could get by class if you didn’t read them, but you still should.</p>

<p>In my English classes, we had to read the chapters in the textbook (I never did because I already know how to write papers and all that stuff) and then we had to read stories. The stories were important because we had discussions, quizzes, and essays based off of them.</p>

<p>The length of papers is generally never a good measure of their ‘difficulty’. Often a 2 page paper is much harder to write than a 10 page paper… it depends on what the assignment is</p>


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How to Get Your Homework Done in College

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  • M.Ed., Higher Education Administration, Harvard University
  • B.A., English and Comparative Literary Studies, Occidental College

In contrast to the academic requirements of high school, college courses present a much heavier, more consistent workload. And with everything else that college students have to manage -- jobs, personal life, relationships, physical health, cocurricular obligations -- it can sometimes seem like getting your homework done is an impossible feat. At the same time, however,  not  getting your work done is a recipe for disaster. So, what tips and tricks can you use to get your homework done in college?

Tips for Successfully Doing College Homework

Use these tips to create a process that works for you and your personal study style.

Use a Time Management System

Put all major assignments and their due dates in your time management system . A key part of staying on top of your homework is knowing what's coming; no one, after all, wants to realize on Tuesday that they have a major midterm on Thursday. To avoid surprising yourself, make sure all of your major homework assignments and their due dates are documented in your calendar. That way, you won't inadvertently sabotage your own success simply because you've mismanaged your time.

Schedule Homework Time

Schedule times to do homework each week, and keep those appointments. Without designated time for addressing your to-dos, you're more likely to cram at the last minute, which adds to your anxiety levels.

By putting homework on your calendar, you'll have the time allocated in your already-too-busy schedule, you'll reduce your stress by knowing when, exactly, your homework will be done, and you'll be better able to enjoy whatever else you have planned since you'll know your homework is already taken care of.

Sneak in Your Homework

Use small increments of time whenever possible. You know that 20-minute bus ride you have to and from campus every day? Well, that's 40 minutes a day, 5 days a week which means that if you did some reading during the ride, you'd get more than 3 hours of homework done during your commute.

Those little increments can add up: 30 minutes between classes here, 10 minutes waiting for a friend there. Be smart about sneaking in small bits of homework so that you can conquer the bigger assignments piece by piece.

You Can't Always Get It All Done

Understand that you can't always get all your homework done. One of the biggest skills to learn in college is how to gauge what you  can't  get done. Because sometimes, there really is only so many hours in a day, and the basic laws of physics mean you can't accomplish everything on your to-do list.

If you just can't get all your homework done, make some smart decisions about how to choose what to do and what to leave behind. Are you doing great in one of your classes, and skipping the reading one week shouldn't hurt too much? Are you failing another and definitely need to focus your efforts there?

Hit the Reset Button

Don't get caught up in the get-caught-up trap. If you fall behind on your homework , it's easy to think -- and hope -- that you'll be able to catch up. So you'll set a plan to catch up, but the more you try to catch up, the more you fall behind. If you're falling behind on your reading and are feeling overwhelmed, give yourself permission to start anew.

Figure out what you need to get done for your next assignment or class, and get it done. It's easier to cover the material you missed when you're studying for an exam in the future than it is to fall further and further behind right now.

Use Your Resources

Use class and other resources to help make doing your homework more productive and efficient. You might, for example, think that you don't need to go to class because the professor only covers what's already been addressed in the reading. Not true.

You should always go to class -- for a variety of reasons -- and doing so can make your homework load lighter. You'll better understand the material, be better able to absorb the work you do out of class, be better prepared for upcoming exams (thereby saving you studying time and improving your academic performance), and overall just have a better mastery of the material. Additionally, use your professor's office hours or time in an academic support center to reinforce what you've learned through your homework assignments. Doing homework shouldn't just be a to-do item on your list; it should be an essential part of your college academic experience.

  • Is Homework Good or Bad for Students?
  • What to Do When You're Behind in Your College Classes
  • How are College Academics Different from High School?
  • 17 Things to Do on a College Campus When You're Bored
  • Tips for Preparing for the New School Year
  • Top Tips for Succeeding in Statistics Class
  • Time Management Tips for Graduate Students
  • What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed in College
  • How to Be Successful in College
  • How to Stay Organized in College
  • 4 Tips for Completing Your Homework On Time
  • How to Stay Motivated at the End of the Semester
  • How to Find Time to Exercise in College
  • How to Keep up With College Reading
  • Study Tips for Middle School Students
  • 5 Steps to Get Organized in College

College Info Geek

40+ Study Tips to Help You Work Smarter This Semester

what college homework like

C.I.G. is supported in part by its readers. If you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more here.

what college homework like

Though you’ve likely been studying since at least kindergarten, how often do you stop to think about why you study the way you do?

With a bit of examination, you’ll realize that you could probably improve the way you study.

However, you’re busy enough as it is without adding a class called “study skills.” To save you time, we’ve put together a list of our most useful study tips.

While you’ve likely heard some of them before, there are probably at least a few you haven’t considered. And even if you have heard a study tip before, you could likely do a better job of applying it (we all could).

So without further ado, here are the very best study tips out there. We hope they make your studies more efficient, effective, and even enjoyable.

Put your classes on your calendar

Have you ever missed an important lecture, presentation, or class discussion because you forgot class was happening? It’s easier to do than most of us would like to admit, especially with all the other demands college can place on your time.

To make sure you never forget a class again, put each class on your calendar as a recurring event. If you’re not sure how to do this, check out our guide to efficient calendar use . Also, be watch for any changes to the class schedule and update your calendar accordingly.

Put your homework on a to-do list

Your calendar is a great tool for keeping track of your busy schedule, but what about specific, day-to-day assignments? For this, I recommend using a task management app such as Todoist .

When you put your homework assignments on a to-do list, you’re much less likely to forget them. Plus, you get the satisfaction of crossing off each assignment after it’s done.

For more advice on setting up a task management system, check out our guide to staying organized in college .

Have a study space

Where do you study? Your dorm room? The library? Lying in your bed? The place you study matters more than you think. Having a dedicated study space will help you avoid distractions and signal to your brain that it’s time to learn.

We have an entire guide on creating a study space (including examples from real students). But, in general, find a space that will let you focus for long periods of time, has all the supplies you need, and is free of interruptions.

The details will vary based on your preferences. I need quiet and isolation to do my best work, so in college I usually opted for a secluded place in the library basement.

But some people prefer working with background noise or activity, meaning a coffee shop or the student center common area might be a better choice.

More than anything, think about the conditions that help you study best and find a space that fits them.

Schedule time for homework

Let’s face it: there are dozens of things you’d rather be doing than homework. But homework is key to truly learning and retaining the material, especially for subjects with too much content for the professor to cover in class.

With most assignments, the biggest challenge is often getting started. Instead of leaving this up to your willpower, schedule time to do your homework.

You’ll have to experiment with how much time to plan for each class. But the act of putting homework time on your calendar and “showing up” the same way you would to an appointment will make it easier to get started.

Plus, it can remove some of the dread that comes from not knowing how long an assignment will take to complete.

Use the Pomodoro technique to avoid procrastination

While scheduling time to do homework will help with general procrastination, sometimes you’ll come across an assignment that feels like a slog. For some people, it will be research papers; for others, reading assignments or problem sets.

Whatever it is for you, the Pomodoro technique can help you overcome your resistance and power through the hard work.

We discuss the Pomodoro technique at length here , but the gist of it is this:

  • Pick one assignment to complete
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes
  • Work on only that assignment until the timer is up
  • Take short breaks in between sessions (usually 5 or 10 minutes)
  • Repeat the process until you’ve finished the assignment

With a proper productivity system, nothing ever slips through the cracks. In just one hour, you'll learn how to set up your to-do list, calendar, note-taking system, file management, and more — the smart way.

Productivity Essentials: Create a System That Works

Remember Parkinson’s law

Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time allotted. This is somewhat unintuitive, as we tend to assume that an assignment will take “as long as it takes.”

But with Parkinson’s law, we realize that we can (somewhat) influence how long a task takes by adjusting the amount of time we schedule to complete it.

You’ve likely experienced Parkinson’s law in practice when you’re finishing an assignment at the last minute. You write that 10-page essay a few hours before it’s due because you have no choice, even if it would normally take you twice that amount of time.

While I don’t recommend waiting until the last minute to finish assignments, you can still use Parkinson’s law to spend less time on work.

If you think it will take you 2 hours to complete a set of problems, see if you can do it in an hour. Even if it ends up taking you longer than that, the very act of attempting to finish it faster will likely reduce the amount of time it takes.

Keep a distraction log

Do you struggle with distracting random thoughts or ideas while you’re working?

Maybe, in the midst of your calculus homework, you remember that you need to schedule a meeting for a club you’re part of. Or, while doing your philosophy reading, you recall that one of your library books will soon be overdue.

How do you prevent these random (but often important) thoughts from derailing your study session?

The best technique we’ve found is to keep a distraction log. This is a piece of paper next to you where you can write down any thoughts that occur to you while studying.

Writing down these random thoughts gets them out of your head, freeing up space in your working memory. Plus, it lets you act on them later when you have a chance to add them to your to-do list, calendar, etc.

Take breaks while studying

I already alluded to this in the section on the Pomodoro technique, but be sure to take breaks while you’re studying. This practice has several benefits.

First, taking breaks keeps your study sessions effective. No matter how long your attention span, there’s a limit to how long you can truly focus on difficult concepts or complex mental tasks. Taking short breaks lets your mind rest and then return refreshed once you resume.

Additionally, taking a break gives you a chance to stretch and move your body. Even if you’re working at a standing desk , staying fixed in one position for too long is still unhealthy. Getting your blood flowing will help you keep from getting tired or losing focus, as well as keeping you generally healthy.

Finally, taking a break can give your unconscious mind a chance to work on difficult problems . While there is a lot of power in actively concentrating on how to solve a problem, sometimes it’s better to let the question percolate in the back of your mind. When you return to studying, you may be surprised at how obvious the solution now seems.

Take notes as you read

You’re probably used to taking notes during lectures, but how often do you take notes while doing assigned reading?

While it can seem like a lot of extra work, taking notes as you read can save you time in the long run.

If you take notes as you read, it will be much faster to study for exams or come up with material for essays. This is because you won’t waste time re-reading the textbook (which, aside from taking lots of time, isn’t a very effective way to study).

Plus, taking notes as you read forces you to engage with and think about the material, helping you to internalize it more deeply than if you were just looking at the words on the page.

Take notes on paper

While we’re discussing note-taking, I encourage you to take notes on paper if you can. A 2014 study published in Psychological Science found that students who took notes on laptops didn’t do as well on tests of conceptual understanding compared to students who took notes by hand.

The study’s authors speculate this disparity in performance occurred because taking notes on a laptop makes it easier to transcribe what a professor says verbatim. When you write by hand, in contrast, the slower speed forces you to summarize and put concepts in your own words, which leads to better understanding.

To be clear, I do think your computer is an excellent place for storing and organizing your notes. But you’re better off using your phone to scan your notes later (or typing them up by hand) than taking digital notes from the start.

Focus on understanding concepts, not memorizing facts

One of the key differences between college and high school is that there’s less focus on memorization and more on conceptual understanding.

For instance, a high school history class might require you to memorize lots of dates and names of people and then reproduce them on a test.

A college history class, in contrast, will be less concerned about memorizing when/what happened and more about analyzing historical trends or cause and effect.

If you’re only accustomed to memorizing information and regurgitating it on a test, this new mindset can take some getting used to.

Your professor will likely give you an idea of what they expect you to understand for exams, which can help you adjust your studies accordingly. But, in general, be sure to spend time learning the concepts behind the subject in addition to rote memorization.

Test your understanding with the Feynman technique

One of the best techniques for testing your conceptual understanding is the Feynman technique . Popularized by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, this technique will help you determine if you truly understand a topic (as opposed to just knowing the name or idea of it).

First, get a sheet of paper and write the name of the topic at the top. Next, write as simple (yet comprehensive) of an explanation as you can. Imagine you’re explaining it to someone who knows nothing about the topic.

Once you’ve written your explanation, compare it to your notes or the textbook. Look for gaps in your understanding, as well as places where you’ve used unnecessary technical language. Now, re-write the explanation to include any information you missed and to simplify any jargon.

If you use this process as part of your studies, you’ll be much better prepared for exams, class discussions, and other forms of assessment.

Use “rubber ducking” when you’re stuck on a problem

The Feynman technique is great for reviewing material for an exam, but what about when you’re struggling to solve a homework problem? Another helpful tool you can use is “rubber ducking.”

Popular among programmers for debugging code , rubber ducking means explaining code, line-by-line, to an inanimate object such as a rubber duck. In the process of explaining what the code is supposed to do, the programmer will often arrive at the solution.

While you can certainly apply this if you’re studying programming, I’ve found it to be helpful for any time I’m stuck on a problem.

If I can’t figure out how to express a certain idea in writing, for example, I’ll explain it out loud as if talking to a friend. You can also use rubber ducking for math or science problems, talking through your current solution line-by-line and seeing if it helps you reach a breakthrough.

Don’t expect to immediately understand new material

College-level classes often introduce you to material you’ve never studied before. This could be a subject that wasn’t offered in high school (such as geology or philosophy) or more advanced topics that high school classes don’t cover.

Regardless, you may find yourself thinking, “This makes no sense to me, I must be stupid.”

However, this mindset is flawed. Just because you don’t immediately understand new material, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of understanding it. Rather, it just means you need to put in more time and effort to grasp it.

College classes often involve studying concepts that are unintuitive or completely unfamiliar. But just as you didn’t learn to read or subtract in one day (or even month), you may need more than a few days (or weeks) to grasp new college-level material. View this as part of the learning journey, rather than a reflection of your intelligence.

Reward yourself with “high-density fun”

When we discuss how to study, we often focus on what happens during the study session.

But it’s just as important to take time outside of your studies to have fun and relax. Of course, this reduces stress. But it can also motivate you, giving you something to look forward to when you’re done studying.

To make sure you’re truly rewarding yourself, however, we recommend scheduling “high-density fun.” These are activities that truly excite you, rather than just killing a few minutes here or there.

It’s the difference between taking breaks while you work to scroll Instagram (low-density fun) and scheduling a DnD session after you finish your homework (high-density fun).

The definition of high-density fun will vary depending on your interests. But whatever it means to you, make sure to get some of it in your life each day (and especially after intense study sessions).

Don’t cram for exams

Cramming is a popular study method, but I don’t recommend it. While it’s possible to jam enough information into your head in one night that you can pass an exam, doing so is both ineffective and unnecessarily stressful.

Based on our understanding of how memory works , you should ideally spread your studies out over multiple sessions across multiple days (or even weeks). This will give your brain time to absorb information and commit it to long-term memory.

Plus, spreading out your studies will give you time to focus on the concepts you understand least and spend time quizzing yourself (instead of scanning the same set of notes over and over). Cramming the night before an exam leaves time for none of these activities.

Furthermore, cramming is stressful. Instead of focusing on learning material, there’s a nagging feeling of fear in the back of your mind that you won’t be able to remember enough. Plus, you’re likely to be anxious when you show up for the test, which can further hurt your performance.

Don’t pull all-nighters

I like to think of all-nighters as Parkinson’s law taken to unrealistic extremes.

Even if you can finish a project or paper in one night, it’s unlikely to be your best work.

And, as with cramming, all-nighters introduce excessive stress into your life.

Finally, operating on no sleep means you’ll be less effective at whatever you attempt the day after your all-nighter. This is especially bad news if you happen to pull an all-nighter before an exam.

Luckily, all-nighters are easy to avoid. If you keep a calendar of all your due dates and plan to start working on a project a few days (or weeks) before it’s due, you’ll have enough time to complete assignments without resorting to sleep deprivation.

Use the library

As the ads for my local library used to say, “Books are only half the story.” The same is true of your college’s library system. While the library is a great place to study or check out a book for class, it’s also a useful resource for all kinds of academic work.

Particularly if you’re writing a research paper , the library staff can be immensely helpful. My college’s library let you book “research consultations,” in which a librarian would work with you one-on-one to help find useful sources for all kinds of projects.

Your library likely has something similar, and I strongly encourage you to use it. Don’t be intimidated by the librarians; it’s their job to help you.

Use the right music to help you focus

Music can be an extremely powerful tool for focusing on assignments . However, it’s key to choose the right music.

Part of this is a matter of preference and experimentation.

One person might find classical music to be an amazing focus tool, while another might find it puts them to sleep. And some people will love the energy that heavy metal brings to the studying process, while others might find it distracting. Try different genres and see what works for you.

On the other hand, you can also turn to specialized resources for more help. , for instance, uses music created by AI to help induce (and maintain) deep focus. And our study playlist , while less high-tech, is carefully curated to include tracks that will help you hone in on your assignment.

Finally, if music is too distracting, then don’t use it while you study. There’s no rule saying you have to.

Rehearse presentations

Does giving a presentation to the class fill you with dread? Likely, you just need some rehearsal.

First, you need to create your presentation far enough in advance that you have time to rehearse it (another benefit of not cramming).

Then, you should practice it out loud , ideally in a setting similar to the place you’ll be giving the real presentation. Your library likely has study rooms you can reserve for such purposes, though a dorm room can also work in a pinch.

For even more realistic practice, give the presentation to a friend or group of friends. Offer to let them rehearse their presentations for you in exchange (obviously, this works best if your friends are in the same class).

If you take some time to rehearse, then you’ll be much less anxious (and give a much better presentation) when the real thing arrives.

Simulate exam conditions to reduce test anxiety

Just as rehearsing a presentation can help you be less nervous, simulating the conditions of your next exam can help calm test anxiety. By “conditions,” I mean the setting, time limit, and even format of the exam.

If you can mimic all of these when you’re taking practice exams or quizzing yourself, then you’ll be much less anxious when the real exam comes.

Try to get as close to the real exam as you can. Here are some ideas:

  • See if you can work on practice questions in the same room (or a similar room) as where you’ll take the exam.
  • Work with a timer set to the actual length of the exam (this will also help you with pacing).
  • Gather as much information as you can about the exam’s format so that you can work on the right kinds of practice questions.

If you do all of the above, then you’ll be able to focus on performing your best, not on the anxiety that comes from the unknown. For more help with test anxiety, read this guide .

Go to office hours

Your professor has office hours for one reason: to help you succeed in class. It’s in your best interest, therefore, to attend them.

Even if you aren’t struggling in a class, attending office hours is a chance to get to know your professor and show that you care about their subject.

And if you are struggling, then office hours are invaluable. However, you need to approach them the right way.

Don’t go to office hours with vague requests such as, “Help me understand this subject.” Instead, you should prepare specific questions in advance, such as:

  • “How do I solve this particular equation?”
  • “Is this a good list of sources for the upcoming research paper?”
  • “Can we practice the French subjunctive tense?”

This way, you’ll make the most of your (and your professor’s) limited time.

Use the learning center and tutoring services

Office hours are a great place to get help, but sometimes they aren’t enough. Your professor probably doesn’t have enough time to regularly work with you one-on-one. Or, you may feel more comfortable getting help from another student.

If either is the case, then you should visit your college’s learning or tutoring center. There, you can arrange to regularly meet with a tutor who can help you with all manner of academic matters.

In addition, your college may have a “writing center” or “math center” where you can make an appointment or even drop in to get homework help.

Using these resources doesn’t make you less intelligent; on the contrary, it would be foolish not to use them.

Use third-party study resources

Are you struggling to understand a particular concept, even after going to office hours or working with a tutor?

While some things just take time to grasp, you can also get extra practice with third-party study resources. Your professor may already recommend some of these in their syllabus, but don’t be afraid to seek them out yourself.

However, be sure that you’re using high-quality resources. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Crash Course – Free, professionally produced lectures on pretty much any “gen ed” class you might be taking (plus more specialized topics such as organic chemistry).
  • Khan Academy – Crash Course is great for understanding general concepts, but Khan Academy is the place to go if you need help with calculations or more specific questions.
  • Symbolab – An online tool that can solve any math problem and show you free, step-by-step solutions. Be sure to use it only after you’ve done your best to solve the problem on your own, not as a substitute for studying.
  • Better Explained – A website that teaches math concepts (from trigonometry to vector calculus) using intuition, not memorization. Pair with Khan Academy for best results.
  • Chegg Study – Need step-by-step solutions to problems in your textbook? Want to chat with a subject matter expert about your homework? Chegg Study will let you do both.

Approach group study with care

For some people (and some subjects) studying in groups is very helpful. Particularly if you’re all struggling to understand a new concept, then drawing on collective knowledge and problem solving skills can make finishing homework (or preparing for an exam) much easier.

However, be sure to balance group study sessions with solo practice and review. Unless you’re working on a group project, you alone will be responsible for understanding the material when it’s time to take the exam or write the final paper. When you only study in a group setting, it’s easy to develop illusions of competence .

Like studying in groups but are stuck at home? Use our “study with me” video for some companionship.

Use flashcards to memorize large volumes of information

While I mentioned earlier that college classes tend to focus less on rote memorization, there will still be cases where you have to memorize equations, processes, reactions, or even historical events. If you find yourself in such a situation, flashcards are your best friend.

Assuming you give yourself enough time and use the right memorization techniques , you can use flashcards to learn massive amounts of information. And if you use a spaced repetition app such as Anki , you can make the process even more efficient.

Learn more about the best ways to make (and study) flashcards .

Avoid comparing yourself to other students

Assuming your college uses traditional letter grades, it’s easy to compare your performance to that of other students. And even beyond grades, you may hear fellow students discussing how “easy” an exam was or how “simple” the concepts in the day’s lecture were.

If you thought the exam was impossible and the lecture incomprehensible, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone has different strengths, and people learn at different paces. Your learning journey is ultimately a personal one, and comparing yourself to other students won’t help you learn.

Get your study materials ready the night before class

Despite our admonitions to get enough sleep , there will still be nights when you stay up late to finish homework (or even get in one more Smash Bros session).

Given this reality, the last thing you want to do in the morning is run around your room frantically looking for the textbook you need for your 8 AM class.

To avoid this stress, prepare your study materials the night before. Find the textbooks, notebooks, writing utensils, and whatever else you need, and put them in your backpack. Then, drift off to sleep with the blissful knowledge you’re prepared for the day to come.

Wondering what you should keep in your backpack? We’ve got your covered .

Put your phone away while studying

Do you check your texts or scroll your social feeds every few minutes while studying? If so, I recommend changing the way you study.

Your phone is a huge source of distraction , and checking it compulsively means it will take you longer to finish whatever you’re supposed to be working on.

Instead, put your phone away. Ideally, put it physically out of reach, either in a different room or at least in your bag. If that’s not practical, then install an app such as Forest , which will reward you for not touching your phone.

Building habits isn’t just about discipline; there are real-world steps you can take to set yourself up for success! In this course, you'll learn how to set realistic goals, handle failure without giving up, and get going on the habits you want in your life.

Take My Free Class on Mastering Habits

Use mind maps to aid brainstorming

If you’re in a class (or major) that requires you to write a lot of essays, one of your biggest challenges is likely coming up with topic ideas. One of the most helpful techniques I’ve found for overcoming this “topic block” is making mind maps.

With a mind map, you draw a circle (or whatever shape you like) in the center of a piece of paper with a general topic.

Then, you draw branching lines out from the central circle connected to smaller circles. In each of these smaller circles, you write a more specific topic or idea.

expanded mindmap

After you repeat this process a few times, you’re likely to come up with at least one or two good topics that you can refine into an essay.

If you’re skeptical, give it a try. There’s a certain magic to the process, something about getting your hand moving that leads to unexpected ideas.

Use flat outlines to speed up essay writing

I’m a big believer in creating outlines for any lengthy piece of writing. However, the outlining technique I used in college (and still use today) is a bit different than the strict, hierarchical outlines you probably learned to write in middle or high school.

Instead of such a rigid outline, I use what Cal Newport calls a “ flat outline .”

Here’s how flat outlining works:

  • Make a list of topics you want to cover in a paper
  • Research each topic, finding quotes related to them
  • Drop your supporting quotes into a list under each topic
  • From there, it’s just a matter of shaping that collection of quotes and topics into a full draft

This technique works because it recognizes that writing is a process of discovery. You don’t really know what you’ll say in a paper until you start writing it.

The flat outline aids you in the process of discovery by giving you quotes and general ideas as a starting point for your final draft. As a result, you spend less time outlining and more time writing.

For more tips on speeding up essay writing (without sacrificing quality), see this guide .

Beware of plagiarism

As I’m sure your teachers have been telling you since you started doing any kind of research, plagiarism is a serious matter. I won’t beat you over the head with all the reasons plagiarism is wrong; you already know that.

However, I will give you some tips for avoiding it. First, always cite a source if you have any doubts. It’s better to have too many citations than to risk plagiarism.

Second, use a third-party tool such as Quetext to check your paper for potential plagiarism. Your professor will likely use such a tool themselves, so do yourself a favor and beat them to it.

Keep papers to a reasonable length

This one is for all the overachievers out there. While there’s nothing wrong with going “above and beyond” on assignments if you have the time, there’s such a thing as too much.

If a professor says a paper should be 10 pages, try not to exceed that. 11 or even 12 pages is fine, but 20 pages is ridiculous. Not only does this create lots of extra work for your professor, but it could also be a sign that your paper is rambling or unfocused.

Longer ≠ better.

Never underestimate the time it takes to cite sources

This is a lesson I learned the hard way. The night before I planned to turn in my senior thesis, all I had left to do was cite all my sources (in proper MLA format), generate my bibliography, and print the final copy.

Given all the challenging mental work that had gone into writing my thesis, all this citation business would be easy in comparison…or so I thought.

Four hours later, I was still tracking down citations and making sure they were properly formatted. As midnight passed and I finally printed my thesis, I resolved to never underestimate the time citations can take.

Even if you’re working on a shorter paper without scores of sources, be sure to budget some time for the citation process. You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t create bibliographies by hand

While citing sources still requires a certain amount of grunt work, creating bibliographies is thankfully much easier than it used to be. There are now many tools that can take a list of sources and turn it into a properly formatted bibliography or works cited in the citation style of your choice.

Which tool you use doesn’t matter, so long as it’s reputable (your professor can likely provide recommendations).

But, in general, I prefer EasyBib for short papers (under 10 pages) and Zotero for long research papers or theses.

EasyBib is a bit easier to use, making it great for when you’re done writing and just need a bibliography. Zotero, while having more of a learning curve, is a great tool to use during the writing and research processes. Not only can it automatically generate citations, but it can also help you track and reference sources as you’re writing.

Know when you should drop a class

Dropping a class should be a last resort, something you do only after you’ve used all the study resources we’ve mentioned thus far. But sometimes, it’s a smart, strategic decision .

If your grades are consistently low, or you realize that a class is way over your head, then dropping it can be a good way to avoid unnecessary damage to your GPA.

Of course, you shouldn’t take this decision lightly. Talk to your professor and advisor before making a decision. And explore alternatives, such as auditing the class or taking it pass/fail. Also, check if dropping a class will affect your eligibility for any scholarships you have.

Don’t over-study

When you start college, you’re bound to encounter advice that goes something like this:

“For every hour you spend in class, you should spend 2 hours studying outside of class.”

While I think this advice is well-intentioned, aiming to help students avoid taking on too heavy a workload, I also think it’s b.s.

There’s no hard and fast rule for how much studying a class will require. Studying for a class should take as long as you need to understand the material and complete assignments, no more or less.

While this doesn’t excuse you from doing your homework, don’t feel like you aren’t studying “enough” if the week’s assignments take less than the prescribed 2 hours per hour of class. It’s not a competition to see who can spend the most time studying.

Always back up your work

Studying is already enough work without losing an important assignment due to a computer error. Always, always, always back up your work.

At a minimum, this means writing in a program like Google Docs, which automatically saves your work to the cloud. However, I also recommend keeping copies of important assignments on your computer in case you’re without internet access (a common problem in lecture halls).

Finally, for extra safety, consider creating a remote backup of your hard drive with a service such as Backblaze .

Backblaze runs in the background and automatically backs up everything on your computer to a remote server. This ensures you can quickly recover your data if your computer crashes, gets stolen, or dies a death by spilled coffee.

Don’t obsess over grades

Grades are a big focus in high school, so it’s normal to enter college very concerned about them.

While you should certainly care about your grades (particularly if you’re looking to attend grad school or keep your scholarships ), don’t obsess over them. Once you graduate and get a job, no one will care about your GPA.

Plus, if getting a job is your goal, then GPA is a minor factor in the scheme of things. Prospective employers will care more about the internships you did , the projects you worked on outside of class, and how well you present yourself in interviews . Don’t focus on grades so much that you forget to be a well-rounded person.

Use project management tools to coordinate group projects

In theory, group projects are a chance to practice the collaboration you’ll do in the workplace. But in practice, they’re often a nightmare in which one or two people do all the work while everyone else slacks off.

To make group projects less painful (and help divide the work evenly), try using a project management app.

I’m using “project management app” in a very broad sense, meaning any app that helps coordinate your group efforts. In many cases, this could be as simple as a shared Google Doc to collaboratively write a paper. Or a shared Google Slides project for a group presentation.

For larger projects (such as those that last all semester), considering using a more serious project management app such as Trello or Asana .

While these apps take a little time to set up and learn, they let you assign tasks to specific group members and keep track of your project’s overall progress. This can help make sure that a large project doesn’t get derailed due to poor organization or coordination.

Take care of your health

Never spend so much time studying that you forget to exercise, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, go outside, or spend time relaxing. While it can seem like a worthwhile tradeoff in the short-term, the damage to your overall quality of life isn’t worth it.

Plus, remember that your brain is part of your body. If you want to perform at your best, then taking care of your health isn’t optional. (Learn more about the connections between health and mental performance in our interview with Dr. John Ratey , author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain . )

Study Tips Can’t Replace the Hard Work of Studying

As you can now see, there are lots of things you can do to study more effectively, no matter what you’re majoring in or what classes you’re taking.

However, never forget that you still have to do the work. The tips in this article will help you study better, and likely spend less time studying.

But there isn’t some magic pill that will help you learn things instantly, à la Limitless . Ultimately, you still need to put in the time and hard work that studying requires.

Wishing you a productive study session!

Image Credits: man studying at table

Take Control of Homework

Find the right college for you, don't let it control you..

Although very few students love homework, it does serve a purpose. Homework helps you:

  • Reinforce what you've learned during the day.
  • Build study habits that are essential in college.
  • Prepare for your classes.
  • Get a sense of progress.

College life involves a lot of adjustments for students. Will you have homework in college? Yes. And it can be one of the most daunting tasks you face there. Out-of-the-classroom learning is part of the college experience and essential for academic success. The good news is that learning some homework tips now will make it easier to do college homework later.

Set the Mood.

Create a good study area with everything you need (e.g., a calculator). If you don't have a quiet place at home, try your local library.

Know Where to Begin.

Make a list of everything you need to do. Note all deadlines. Do the more challenging assignments first so you don't have to face them at the end.

Study at the Same Time Every Day.

Even if you don't have homework every night, use the time to review notes. If sitting down to work is part of your everyday routine, you'll approach it with less dread. Also, you'll become a pro at using time productively.

Keep Things in Perspective.

Know how much weight each assignment or test carries. Use your time accordingly.

Get More Involved.

Keep your mind from wandering by taking notes, underlining sections, discussing topics with others, or relating your homework to something you're studying in another class.

Organize the Information.

People process information in different ways. Some people like to draw pictures or charts to digest information, while others prefer to read aloud or make detailed outlines. Try to find the methods that work best for you. Ask your teacher for recommendations if you're having trouble.

Take Advantage of Any Free Time.

If you have a study period or a long bus ride, use the time to review notes, prepare for an upcoming class, or start your homework.

Study with a Friend.

Get together with friends and classmates to quiz each other, compare notes, and predict test questions. Consider joining a study group.


If you have concerns about the amount or type of homework, talk to your family, teachers, or counselor. They can help you understand how much time you need to allot for homework and how to manage your tasks.

Celebrate Your Achievements.

Reward yourself for hitting milestones or doing something unusually well.

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9 Ways to Finish Homework in College Even When You Don't Feel Like It

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Do you put the “pro” in procrastinate?

In truth, we’ve all experienced how difficult it feels just to start. So we tend to ignore it and focus on something more fun instead. But then, before we realize, a project that at first seemed manageable now appears next to impossible to complete. 

So we go into a deadline-induced panic. 

Even if you think you work well under stress and pressure in college, you probably still feel the overwhelming sense of anxiety that accompanies procrastination, whether or not you meet that looming deadline.

But if you want to break your procrastination habit, you can. It’s fixable. All you need is a solid support system and a few clever productivity tactics to keep your self-discipline and focus in check.

So instead of falling into the frantic last-minute cycle again , use this list of tools and strategies to push ahead and finish what needs to be done.  

1. Play That Music

Music boosts your energy and keeps you alert. So if you are distracted by the slightest of sounds in a usually quiet atmosphere, music can drown out any spontaneous interruptions. It also has a powerful effect on your mood and recall. When you select the right song to play while studying, writing a paper or posting in the discussion board, the tune can trigger your memory.

2. Find a Study Buddy

If you find it difficult to sit down and create a study guide for your next exam, team up with a few classmates to draft a master study guide. Assign each person a section to work on. Perhaps one of your teammates has a better understanding of the material in a specific section and can help you better grasp the concepts. Then, combine everyone’s work for a complete and comprehensive guide.  

3. Grab Your Phone

Use your smartphone to your advantage. Make use of those awkward segments of time throughout the day when you may have a 10-minute opening. Waiting for your kid to finish soccer practice? Have a couple minutes before your meeting starts? Study anytime by loading your notes onto your phone or turning them into digital, on-the-go flashcards.

4. Make It Fun

It’s ok to face it - we avoid tasks because they seem boring. The easiest way to fix this is to make those tasks fun. For example, if you are writing a paper, invite a friend who might have their own work to do to join you at a coffee shop. Or recruit your kids to quiz you on your study material. Your kids will love helping (and they’ll learn something too!).

5. Take Advantage of Web Apps

Writing apps like Hemingway and Grammarly can ease the process of writing papers by helping you write more clearly. Think of these apps as your own personal writing coach. As you write, the app identifies hard to read sentences, as well as awkward phrasing, and promotes better word choices.

6. Set an Alarm

Not just any alarm. One programmed to tell you what you need to do and how it will impact your day. Think, “start working on your paper now and you’ll be able to go to a movie.” If you ignore that one, then set another saying, “if you start your paper now, you can watch an hourlong drama,” and so on. This type of self-reward system can help you better manage your time and still fulfill your wants later on.   

7. Recruit a Supervisor

Being accountable to someone is often the drive we need to kick us into gear. Use a similar tactic to ensure your schoolwork is done on time. Ask someone to check on your progress periodically to assure you’re staying on task. This someone can be your spouse, a friend or even your children. Choose wisely, though. You want someone who is serious about helping and won’t try to bother you while you are working. Your teenaged son or daughter will probably be very good at checking up on you and keeping you on task. Maybe even too good.

8. Do Your Least Favorite Work First

When you do your least favorite work first, you will increase your confidence and decrease your stress levels. And, naturally, avoid procrastination later on. Finishing the largest item on your to-do list will give you the productivity boost you need to do other assignments you may have pushed aside.

9. Change Your Perspective

Are things just not right in your usual study space ? Or do you just not like it anymore? Maybe it’s too loud, too quiet, too dark or just too hot. Consider making a change. Try working in your local coffee shop, in a community library or a nearby park. The change in scenery and perspective will impact your productivity for the better.

Written by Thomas Edison State University

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what college homework like

How to Handle Homework in College

  • By Emily Summers
  • January 5, 2020

No, you won’t be escaping homework once you get into college. While most portrayals of college and university educational experiences involve lectures, thesis writing, and sitting on the grass with a racially diverse set of friends, there’s actually more to it.

Although not as glamorous or exciting, homework still exists even in college. And like your high school homework, it’s not optional. So, whether or not your professor practices grading on a curve or any other method to determine your course grade, here’s how to handle your homework.

Readings and Assigned Books

Essay assignments, math assignments, lab reports, homework tips, it’s not “homework” like you’d imagine.

what college homework like

You might think homework doesn’t exist in college because you don’t see college students lugging around workbooks and answering them at home. Homework still exists even during post-secondary education , but the type of homework you receive is different.

This is applicable to students of all majors and minors. Expect that your professor will ask you to read either whole books, articles, or short clips of readings before they discuss in the following lecture. While high school teachers have already done this in the past, it is much more difficult in college.

For example, try to remember how required reading worked in high school. Let’s say you were instructed to read Dante Alighieri’s Inferno and you’ll have a month before lectures begin. You buy the book, read the first few chapters (or in Inferno’s case, cantos) and then put off reading for a few weeks until you remember the night before lectures begin and quickly skim through SparkNotes summary of the book. Fast forward to the actual lecture, and the first few weeks will be spent going through the book again for those who didn’t read the book. So, even someone did not read the book, they will still understand the gist of it because the first few lectures will be used to go over every part.

In college, however, this will be much stricter. You’ll receive a shorter time frame to read and understand the material. When lectures begin, you won’t be asked questions like “Who is Dante’s companion?” or “What was written on the doorway to hell?” because it is a simple question that wastes your professor’s and everyone who has presumably read it. Instead, you’ll be given questions like “What does the contrapasso in the vestibule represent and how does it show Dante’s emotions towards those who remained neutral over the corruption of Boniface VIII?”

Expect that your professor won’t be asking for a summary or simple questions to lead the discussion through a quick run-through of the book because it is expected that you should have read it beforehand. This example is just one of the ways your professor will consider readings to be a form of “homework.” This is not limited to novels and books, but also chapters, case digests, and other forms of reading material.

And while you can’t be marked for failing to read your reading materials, your lack of participation in the discussion can clearly reflect whether or not you read the material. And failure to read most of the reading assignments could lead to you failing the class from lack of understanding of the material.

One of the more common types of college homework, you’ll be asked to write an essay or reflection paper on a certain topic. Your professor may ask for short one- or two-page essays due on the next meeting, or longer essays that can take one to a few weeks to complete. This is more common for general courses and for majors whose degree programs fall under Liberal Arts, Education, Business, and Social Sciences.

For courses under science, mathematics, engineering, technology, and the like, homework requires other forms than essay writing. You may be given problem sets similar to the ones you receive in high school-level math homework. But instead of 10 or 20 problem sets, you only receive around 5. This is usually due to two reasons: either each set has one problem set but multiple questions, or it only has one question that is particularly difficult. If you’re taking a STEM-related program expect to have more homework like this and fewer essays.

For science majors who will have more laboratory-based classes than classroom-based learning, you may be required to work on your reports and other laboratory requirements outside of laboratory time. While your professor might not strictly call this homework, it’s the very essence of homework. You’ll be asked to write and submit records, observations, reports, and anything your professor will require.

  • Develop a Time Management Strategy. Portrayals of college students burning the midnight oil to finish a paper is not always accurate. If you’re the type of student who isn’t very active in extra-curricular activities, you have more time to balance all your college courses’ homework and get everything done while still getting enough hours of sleep. Depending on your schedule, you might not have enough time to sleep in, but at least it’ll be enough time to get enough sleep, which can improve your emotional and cognitive health . If you have plenty of courses that have homework, extra-curricular activities, and a part-time job to pay for a part of college, you might need to sacrifice a few hours or cut time for yourself and your social life. It all depends on how you manage your time.
  • Don’t Delay; Do What You Can Today. Let’s say you’re given an assignment during a Monday, and it isn’t due until Friday next week. Depending on your working style, you can either do it as soon as you have enough free time to get it done, or you can work on it bit by bit until the given deadline. Whichever style you prefer, what’s important is that you pick a way that works for you and avoid getting work done at the last minute.

About the Author

Emily summers.


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Getting Into College , Going Back to College , Tips for Online Students , Tips for Students

5 Best Homework Help Websites You Should Know Going Back to School

Updated: October 13, 2023

Published: December 23, 2019


Balancing everything that school throws your way can feel like a challenging task. But you’re not alone! The internet has plenty of resources to assist, including some of the best homework help websites. Homework help sites range from offering textbook solutions to providing access to online tutors who are there to help with your specific needs.

When studying to become the best student you can be, it’s natural to need assistance. As such, you can look to some of these sites to help you better succeed in completing your homework and learning necessary material.

Computer and notebook

Photo by  Andrew Neel  on  Unsplash

Homework websites for students.

Let’s dive right into some of the different types of websites, including homework help websites for college students, as well as students of all other levels.

1. Top Homework Helper

This site provides students with access to over 3,000 tutors who are available to help solve homework problems across an array of subjects, including: Science, Geometry, Accounting, History, Finance, Physics, Chemistry, College Homework, and more. With tutors that support middle school to college-level courses, the live tutoring and 24/7 customer support provides students with a valuable asset.

2. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is an online, free and non-profit provider of education. Students can choose from an impressive list of subjects that span from all levels, including early math to AP Biology and more. The site even offers help with test prep for the SAT , ACT, MCAT, GMAT and other college-level entrance exams.

3. Study Geek

Oftentimes, it is math that challenges most students. For this reason, Study Geek offers help solely in all levels of math. From Trigonometry to Calculus, Statistics to Algebra and more, this site leverages those who have earned their PhD in Mathematics to assist students. The options to learn include math games, vocabulary, and other lessons.


Similar to Top Homework Helper, provides students with access to tutors. Every session is tailored to your needs as you receive your own personal tutor to help you with school for levels K-12 and college. The tutors are PhD graduates and Ivy League school teachers, professors, doctors, and more.

Chegg Study, also known as Cramster, provides students with homework help through offering solutions for your textbook and homework problems. The site also provides expert Q&A sessions and 30 minutes of free tutoring online. A searchable forum exists with questions that have previously been asked by students, which means that your answers may even be waiting for you when you arrive to the site.

Female student looking at computer screen and biting her pencil

Photo by  JESHOOTS.COM  on  Unsplash

A note of caution.

When seeking help online for homework or writing assignments, you may be tempted to let someone else do the work for you. However, that is considered cheating and/or plagiarism, and it results in serious consequences, such as being expelled.

Even when you feel like you cannot gather the strength to write a paper or complete an assignment, or you are worried you will fail, you must not give up. Instead, you can leverage resources like online tutors, family and friends, mentors, peers , professors, and teacher’s assistants.

It’s always in your own best interest to try to complete your own assignments. After all, that’s why you’re getting an education!

Some Extra Study Tips

Along with homework comes the need to study for exams. Homework acts as supplementary work to reiterate all the material you learn in your classes and prepare you on a consistent basis for an upcoming exam, as well as to retain the information.

Here are a few study tips that are useful for students of all ages and academic levels.

1. Note-Taking 101

Note-taking is more of an art than a science. When you are in class, whether it be online or in person, it’s important to take notes. But you don’t want to write everything down, so be aware of key topics and bold headlines, as well as lists. Take the main idea from each lesson and write it down in your own words.

Another useful tip for note-taking is to use different colors. You can use colors to either highlight or write, and this can be done strategically so that, for example, all dates are in red, all vocabulary words are in blue, etc. It’s an easy way for your mind to recognize and categorize different tidbits of information for better recall.

2. Read Out Loud

There are different types of learners — some are visual, others are auditory, for example. If you find yourself to be an auditory learner, which means you remember best when you hear something, then try reading to yourself out loud.

Another good time to read out loud is when you write a paper or complete homework that is a writing assignment. Oftentimes, our brain can see a typo and skip over it, but when you read it out loud, you are more likely to hear the mistake and be able to make the correction.

3. Time Management

Time management is an essential part of life, especially when you are a student. Be sure to write down homework deadlines and test dates so you can prepare in advance. Another benefit to writing down your deadlines and test dates in a planner is so that you won’t forget them.

When you have your assignments listed, it’s also easier to ask for help and manage your time. If you need help in a specific subject, you can reference one of the resources above and get in contact with a tutor or further study the subject matter before the assignment is due or the test date arrives.

The Bottom Line

Homework is not meant to be scary, and it doesn’t exist to waste your time or stress you out. Instead, it is there to better prepare you to retain course information so you can continue to build on what you already know.

However, it’s normal to need homework help, and while some people may use their family or friends for help, others need more in-depth assistance. Around-the-clock online homework help solutions are there for your every need. A wide variety exists so that no matter what level you are at and what subject you need help with, you will be able to find a subject matter expert that is there for you!

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9 Best Homework Help Websites

July 22, 2023

what college homework like

When I was in high school, resources for extra homework help weren’t exactly abundant. If you were struggling with a Shakespeare sonnet, you could always run to the bookstore and pick up a CliffNotes guide. SparkNotes was also gaining in popularity. But these early homework help resources had limited catalogs and were focused primarily on literature. Today, I imagine students suffer from the opposite problem—having too many choices when it comes to homework help websites. When the options are seemingly endless, knowing what to look out for takes on an added importance. Below, I’ll go through a list of 9 stand-out homework help websites and briefly discuss what makes them worth a visit.

Homework Help Websites – The Basics

The best homework help websites do more than just spit out an answer to that tricky math problem. They actually help students learn the material. Common features of homework help websites are educational videos and lectures, practice tests and quizzes, study tools like flashcards, and Q&As with experts. Many sites offer features that allow students to ask specific questions and get real-time feedback. There are also a number of services that offer one-on-one tutoring. Some homework help sites are free, while others require a paid subscription.

1) Khan Academy

Khan Academy is an amazing resource for students of all ages. It’s free, and it really is an academy—it offers full courses in a wide array of subjects, from pre-K math to high school physics. The courses consist of readings, video lectures, practice exercises, and quizzes. The breadth of material is impressive. In math alone, I see course listings for Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, Precalculus, Statistics, Multivariable calculus—you get the idea. Khan Academy also offers a wide variety of AP courses, state-specific curricula, test-prep programs, and life skill courses, like personal finance.

It’s important to note that Khan Academy isn’t a one-on-one tutoring platform. But because of their extensive library of material, the search function is especially powerful. Try it out. I did a search for argumentative essay help, and found a comprehensive guide to writing argumentative essays that was a part of a larger writing course.

Chegg is a paid homework help service. Unlike Khan Academy, Chegg isn’t built around specific courses. Rather, it offers a variety of homework-support resources. Among those resources are plagiarism and grammar checkers, a proofreading service, and a “math solver”, which allows students to enter a problem and get back both a solution and a detailed step-by-step explanation of how the problem was solved. Perhaps the most powerful tool Chegg offers is its “Expert Q&A” feature. This service allows students to take a picture of their homework problem, upload it to the site, and get a detailed response in return. Chegg’s emphasis on process and explanation make it a valuable educational resource for students—not just a way to get a quick answer.

Best Homework Help Websites (Continued)

Quizlet is a well-known and worthwhile study resource. It offers a variety of courses, and it also has an expert-response feature. But Quizlet’s best feature, in my option, is the flashcards tool. Students can create their own digital decks of cards and practice them on Quizlet—just like an old fashion set of index cards. I had a ton of success using Quizlet’s flash card feature to help me memorize words for my foreign language requirement in college. It’s a simple but powerful tool. Although often maligned as a learning method, rote rehearsal and spaced repetition are effective ways to encode information . Quizlet’s flashcard feature is a great way to put those techniques into practice.

4) Socratic

is an AI-powered homework support app that allows students to type or take pictures of questions and receive solutions right away. Since it works with AI, it relies on the web’s vast stores of accumulated knowledge—you’re not interacting with a human tutor. Nonetheless, I found it to be an extremely helpful tool. I tried it out first using a specific math problem. In just a few seconds I was provided with the solution and an explainer with relevant formulas, plus a graphic to help visualize the underlying logic. There were also suggested links to additional resources. For example, when I asked Socratic to explain how the German genitive case works, it suggested a YouTube video and a number of articles from blogs and other language-learning sites.

Since Socratic doesn’t feature courses or one-on-one tutoring support, I wouldn’t lean on it if I were really struggling in a particular class. But as a tool to check your work, make sure you’re on the right track, and become aware of additional resources, it’s worth a download.

5) Photomath

Photomath is, as you might have guessed, a site for math homework help. Like other homework help websites, Photomath allows students to take a picture of a problem and receive an instant, step-by-step solution. Included along with the solution is an explanation of relevant concepts and formulas, plus videos covering mathematical concepts. Photomath does offer a few basic courses, too. So if in addition to homework-specific help you want to brush up on the basics, they’ve got you covered in arithmetic, algebra, and calculus crash courses.

6) Studypool

Studypool is a paid homework support service that provides solutions to specific questions. Studypool offers support in all the major subjects, with a particular emphasis on science. Students can ask questions on everything from anatomy to physics. Like other services, students upload their exact questions or problems directly to the site. But Studypool’s payment model is a bit different: instead of paying for tutoring time or a monthly subscription, students pay for solutions to each question they submit. When a student submits a question, tutors submit bids to answer them. The student then can select which tutor/price option works best. After students select the price and tutor they want, they’re connected with the tutor and given the solution and explanation via messenger.

The draw of Studypool is that it gives students access to real (i.e., human) tutors who are experts in their field. The downside is that pricing isn’t transparent, and students pay per question.

7) College Info Geek

College Info Geek is the study-support website that I wish I knew about when I was in high school and college (they didn’t pay me to write that, I swear). The site focuses not on specific courses or questions, but on how to become a more effective learner. Here it’s all about “learning how to learn”—study tips, memorization and note-taking techniques, and much more. The articles are well-researched, clearly-communicated, practical, and comprehensive. For example, the article on how to improve your memory includes a breakdown of the different types of memory processes, memorization techniques, and even a discussion of how nutrition affects memory. College Info Geek is a great resource for everyone, not just high school and college students.

8) SparkNotes

Yes, Sparknotes made the list! The site offers lessons in a whole bunch of subjects—biology, chemistry, computer science, history, philosophy, math—but its specialty is literature. SparkNotes provides summaries and analyses of novels, short stories, poetry, and non-fiction, from The Canterbury Tales to Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, and Junot Diaz. SparkNotes breaks down books into sub-sections and provides synopses and analyses for each section. There are also separate pages for character breakdowns, discussions of themes and motifs, and explanations of important quotes. I’d caution against using SparkNotes if you’re trying to “hack” a novel or poem and get simple answers about what it “means.” But as a way to supplement your own understanding and interpretation, it’s a great resource. Shmoop is also worth checking out for extra support in literature, poetry, mythology, and the history of literary movements.

9) Grammarly

I’m not sure if Grammarly is an obvious or unexpected choice to round out the list. Either way, it deserves a mention here. Grammarly is a writing tool. It checks and suggests corrections for incorrectly spelled words and misused punctuation. But Grammarly also scans and corrects for things like clarity and vocab usage. It flags sentences that are vague, or overly wordy, and alerts you if you’re using that flashy vocab word incorrectly. It even gives suggestions if it thinks your writing is a bit bland. I don’t see Grammarly as a crutch, but rather as a tool. It can help you master those pesky recurring grammar and usage issues. Always mix up effect and affect? Grammarly will continue to course correct until you’ve got it down yourself.

Homework Help Websites – Final Thoughts

None of the above homework help websites should be seen as a panacea. Each has benefits and drawbacks, strengths and weak points. The list is far from exhaustive. And the sites don’t have to be used in isolation. Try a few out, mix and match. College Info Geek is an excellent supplement to any study regimen. Socratic can be used as a tool to check answers for math homework, and at the same time you can use Grammarly to describe your problem to a tutor on Chegg. At their best, these sites are more than quick fixes to stubborn homework problems—they’re aids to genuine learning.

Additional Resources

You should also check out College Transitions’ “ High School Success ” blogs for help with a number of common high school assignments, including:

  • Lord of the Flies Summary & Analysis 
  • The Great Gatsby and The American Dream
  • Analysis of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” Speech
  • Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken Analysis 
  • High School Success

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Dane Gebauer

Dane Gebauer is a writer and teacher living in Miami, FL. He received his MFA in fiction from Columbia University, and his writing has appeared in Complex Magazine and Sinking City Review .

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The 10 Hardest and Easiest College Majors

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Your GPA and SAT don’t tell the full admissions story

Our chancing engine factors in extracurricular activities, demographic, and other holistic details. We’ll let you know what your chances are at your dream schools — and how to improve your chances!

What’s Covered:

  • Factors to Consider
  • When Do You Have To Declare Your Major?
  • Hardest College Majors
  • Easiest College Majors

Does Your Intended Major Impact Your College Chances?

For incoming undergraduate students, choosing a major can be overwhelming. That’s because your field of study will have meaningful consequences for your future life. Choosing the right major can open the door to engaging work that pays a living wage. On the other hand, selecting the wrong major could result in years of unhappiness if the related work is not interesting, takes up too much time, or doesn’t pay well. 

It might relieve some of your stress to know the important factors to consider when choosing your major, to be familiar with the most challenging and least challenging undergraduate majors, and to remember that your major choice isn’t binding yet . In this helpful guide to choosing your major, we will walk through all of that to help you find a major that suits your needs, interests, and goals.

Factors to Consider When Choosing A Major

Does the work interest me? You will have a much harder time securing good grades and retaining concepts if you are pursuing a major that does not interest you. We are not saying you have to choose something that fascinates you—not everyone can be a professional musician or writer—but make sure you choose a major that holds your attention.

Do I have natural talent in this field? Everyone’s brain is wired a little differently. It follows that certain subjects will be easier for certain students. Natural talent is not a prerequisite for pursuing a given major. In fact, many leaders in their field report initial setbacks that they had to work hard to overcome. However, choosing to major in an area where you already have an intellectual advantage based on your brain chemistry is a good way to make your college years easier.

How much time do I want to spend studying? Realistically, academic coursework is not every student’s top priority. One of the best parts of college is making lifelong friendships. Another is exploring your interests through clubs and internships. Only commit to a time-intensive major if it really is your top priority in college.

What career options will be available to me after graduating? Too many times, we see students treat their undergraduate years as being completely unrelated to what they will do after school. Then, when they find certain career paths are closed to them, they become disappointed. Avoid this outcome upfront by choosing a major with your future career in mind. If you are interested in exploring many different fields, choose a major like Communications or Economics that opens the door to many different industries. If you already know you want to pursue a very specific path, such as film or medicine, choose a major and take the courses that prepare you for your industry.

What are my financial prospects with this major? Even if your goal is not to become a millionaire, keeping an eye on finances will save you a lot of heartache in the long run. If you are split between two majors, consider using return on investment (ROI) as your tie-breaker. If you want to go into a less lucrative field, that is okay! Just be sure you are not taking out large loans to finance a major that will take decades to repay.

When Do You Have To Declare Your Major? And Can You Change It?

When you apply to different universities, you will probably be asked for your intended major . This major is either the program you will enter into as an incoming freshman or, if your institution doesn’t allow you to declare your major until later in your undergraduate studies, it’s the major you think you will declare when the time comes. Sometimes (typically if your intended program is competitive or requires specific technical or artistic skills) you will need to submit a supplemental application or a portfolio for your intended major.

In general, your intended major is exactly what it sounds like: an intention to study a discipline, not set in stone . And many students change their major (hassle-free) throughout their undergraduate years.

Because universities require a certain number of total university credits for graduation, a students’ coursework is generally divided into three components: general education or distribution requirements, major requirements, and minor or elective courses. Students who are unsure about their major might take their elective courses in diverse fields when trying to come to a conclusion about their desired field of study. On the other hand, if you change your major too late, you may delay your graduation, so it is important to plan as you explore . It is also important to remember that, at many universities and colleges, it is easier to change your major within a school than between schools.

Generally, universities will ask you to declare your major by the end of your sophomore year.

CollegeVine’s Top 10 Hardest Majors

To help you start thinking about which major is best for you, we put together a ranked list of the ten hardest majors. We used a combination of lowest average GPA, highest number of hours spent studying, and lowest return on investment (ROI) to determine which majors are the hardest to pursue. In these listings, you’ll notice the statistic, 20-year ROI. A 20-year ROI is the difference between the 20-year median pay for a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in the listed major and the 24-year median pay for an individual with only a high school diploma, minus the total 4-year cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. It effectively tells how much better off graduates are financially due to obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a specific area.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and your list of hardest majors likely would be different than ours. As you read, think about what makes some of these majors easier or harder for you .

10. Fine Arts

Average GPA: 3.2

Average Weekly Study Hours: 16.5

Predicted 20-Year ROI: -$163,600

Find schools with a Fine Arts major that match your profile.

This goes on our list of hardest majors because it has such a low return on investment. For students to make this major a successful choice, they will have to spend hours distinguishing themselves from their peers. The same principle applies to other artistic fields, including creative writing, musical theater, dance, and music. If you pursue a creative major, make sure you cultivate a marketable skill alongside it. Consider teaching, art restoration, or technical writing for a skill that complements your love of art.

Potential Careers Paths and Median Salaries for Fine Arts Graduates:

  • Professional Artist: $49k
  • Art Director: $97k
  • Graphic Designer: $53k
  • Interior Designer: $60k
  • Art Professor (requires further education): $85k

9. Philosophy

Average GPA: 3.1

Average Weekly Study Hours: 16

Predicted 20-Year ROI: $202,000

Find schools with a Philosophy major that match your profile.

Philosophy demands attention to detail and command of logic. On average, philosophy majors spend more time than most college students studying, and those hours require high levels of concentration. Many philosophy majors pursue careers in law or academia because those fields reward hard work, careful reasoning, and attention to detail. Both of these fields require an advanced degree, so be prepared to stay in school for a while.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Philosophy Graduates:

  • Non-Profit Professional: $70k
  • Lawyer (requires further education): $127k
  • Philosophy Professor (requires further education): $88k
  • Public Policy Professional (requires further education): $125k

8. Cellular and Molecular Biology

Average Weekly Study Hours: 18.5

Predicted 20-Year ROI: $382,000

Find schools with a Cellular and Molecular Biology major that match your profile.

Cellular and molecular biology is the biology major with the heaviest workload and lowest average GPA. Students who tend to do well in this field are able to visualize concepts even when they cannot see them with the naked eye. Understanding how different parts of a system work together is a useful skill that this major cultivates. With a cellular and molecular biology undergraduate degree, can pursue an advanced degree or dive straight into the workforce upon graduating, depending on your area of interest.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduates:

  • Research Assistant: $46k
  • Physician (requires further education): $185-271k
  • Biology Professor (requires further education): $101k
  • Pharmacist (requires further education): $129k

7. Accounting

Predicted 20-Year ROI: $563,000

Find schools with an Accounting major that match your profile.

Accounting majors have a great return on investment (ROI) since nearly every person and company requires the services of an accountant at some point in their life cycle. If you like mathematics, specifically applied math, this may be a great fit major for you. Becoming an accountant requires long apprenticeships and lots of studying after graduating from college. However, you can get a well-paid job right out of college, as businesses love to hire folks with this quantitative background.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Accounting Graduates:

  • Accountant: $74k
  • Financial Analyst: $84k
  • Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerk: $42k

Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 17

Predicted 20-Year ROI: $525,000

Find schools with a Nursing major that match your profile.

This major has a high workload but amazing job prospects. Upon receiving licensure, graduates are practically guaranteed a job for life in a growing industry. College graduates typically earn a BSN but may continue their studies to become an MSN. Advanced schooling allows MSNs to specialize, depending on their desired career path. Nurses spend less time in school than doctors and have more in-person contact with patients.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Nursing Graduates:

  • Registered Nurse: $75k
  • Midwife: $111k
  • Nurse Anesthetists: $184k

5. Architecture

Average GPA: 3.3

Average Weekly Study Hours: 22

Average Salary: $67,000

See the best schools for architecture.

This major goes on our list of hardest majors because of the weekly grind. The average architecture major spends 22 hours preparing for class. Students who want to pursue this field need to be ready to spend hours drafting and studying. Upon graduating, your job prospects are fairly narrow because your skills are specialized. That means that when a lot of construction is taking place, you are likely to be in demand. Conversely, if new building projects are not being commissioned, it may be harder to find a job.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Architecture Graduates:

  • Building Architect: $82k
  • Landscape Architect: $71k
  • Architectural Drafter: $58k

Find schools with a Physics major that match your profile.

Physics makes this list because of the long hours students have to spend getting ready for class each week. A highly conceptual field, physics may be right for you if you like to think abstractly about how forces and objects interact. Keep in mind that pursuing a career in physics often requires you to get an advanced degree after graduating from college.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Physics Graduates:

  • Physicist: $129k
  • Biophysicist: $94k
  • Physics Professor (requires further education): $104k

3. Electrical Engineering

Average Weekly Study Hours: 19.5

Predicted 20-Year ROI: $850,000

See the best schools with Engineering majors.

Electrical Engineering majors put in some of the longest hours of all college students, but the return on investment (ROI) is very high. If you love circuitry, fixing equipment, and designing better ways to get a job done, this could be a great fit career for you. A degree in engineering sets you up to perform well as an engineer or, later in your career, as the manager of a team of engineers. Advanced study is encouraged but not required to succeed in this field.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Electrical Engineering Graduates:

  • Electronics Engineer: $103k
  • Aerospace Engineer: $117k
  • Communications Engineer: $110k
  • Computer Hardware Engineer: $120k

2. Chemical Engineering

If you love to leverage your knowledge of science to transform materials, chemical engineering could be a great fit for you. This is another high input, high output field, so expect to work long hours but also to earn a large salary after graduation. If you love chemical engineering but do not want to become an engineer, consider a career in academia or patent law. These career paths require graduate school, in the form of a Ph.D., J.D., or both.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Chemical Engineering Graduates:

  • Chemical Engineer: $109k
  • Environmental Engineer: $99k

1. Chemistry

Average GPA: 2.9

See the best schools for Chemistry majors

We have chosen chemistry as our #1 hardest major because of its low average GPA combined with the long hours of studying required. If you are fascinated by how minuscule, invisible changes can completely alter a substance, chemistry is a great major to consider. It is hard work to earn a degree in chemistry, but once you do, a wide range of career options open to you. Typically, earning an advanced degree after college is necessary to pursue a career incChemistry.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Chemistry Graduates:

  • Chemical Manufacturing: $91k
  • Chemistry Professor (requires further education): $92k

what college homework like

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CollegeVine’s Top Easiest Majors

We have put together our list of top easiest majors based on three factors: GPA, weekly study hours, and return on investment. Keep in mind that your factors may be different! Read our brief summary of each major to see if it may be a good fit for you.

Predicted 20-Year ROI: $240,000

See the best schools for English majors.

If you love language and literature, majoring in English is a great way to gain exposure to strong writing. We are including it on the list of easiest majors because it has a relatively high GPA and because most homework preparation is reading literature, an act that English majors find pleasurable in itself. As far as salary is concerned after graduation, English majors have to work a bit harder to ensure they have a steady source of income. Consider choosing a second major or a minor that cultivates a marketable skill. Or, if you wish to pursue a literary career, use summers and your time outside of class to distinguish yourself with internships and publications. You are entering a competitive field, so it helps to have relevant experience outside of class.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for English Graduates:

  • Writer: $67k
  • Editor: $63k
  • High School Teacher: $63k

8. Economics

Average GPA: 3.0

Average Weekly Study Hours: 15

Predicted 20-Year ROI: $626,000

See the best schools for Economics majors.

Economics majors spend a pretty typical amount of time studying relative to other college majors. However, when they graduate, their earning potential is very high. If you are looking for a field that lets you work hard but not too hard while still bringing home a healthy paycheck, Economics is a great field to consider. It strengthens students’ quantitative reasoning by introducing them to a range of real-world, practical financial problems that can be observed in society. 

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Economics Graduates:

  • Economist: $108k
  • Actuary: $111k

7. Journalism

Average Weekly Study Hours: 13

Find schools with Journalism majors that match your profile.

Journalism majors have relatively high average GPAs relative to peers, and they do not have to spend exorbitant amounts of time studying. That said, it is difficult to secure a full-time position as a journalist, especially if there is a particular subject you long to cover. The strongest applicants to journalism positions have spent years working for local, regional, and national publications prior to applying for their first full-time job. So, consider journalism if you do not want to have a busy course load, but expect that you will devote that extra time to related clubs, writing projects, and internships.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Journalism Graduates:

  • Reporter/Correspondent: $49k
  • Radio/Television Broadcaster: $73k

6. Criminal Justice

Average Weekly Study Hours: 12

Predicted 20-Year ROI: $139,000

See the best schools for Criminal Justice majors.

If you find courts, policing, and corrections fascinating, a career in criminal justice may be for you. Students learn how to apprehend, reprimand, and rehabilitate those who commit crimes. This field does not require much time in class but does demand a certain emotional resilience, as course content will at times be disturbing. Job prospects upon graduating exist but are limited, so college graduates with this major should consider careers as police officers and lawyers, both of which require additional training.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Criminal Justice Graduates:

  • Police Detective: $87k
  • Private Detective: $53k

5. Public Relations & Advertising

Find schools with Public Relations majors that match your profile.

Do people fascinate you? Do you watch the Super Bowl for the ads? Have you been known to tell a captivating story? If so, public relations & advertising may be the field for you. These students integrate their understanding of the human mind with the business objectives of companies and other large enterprises. They help to shape attitudes around a product, initiative, or idea. Students who graduate with a degree in this field often secure employment quickly because companies are always looking for people with a talent for connecting with consumers. No graduate school is required to build a fulfilling career in this industry.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Public Relations & Advertising Graduates:  

  • Marketing Manager: $161k
  • Public Relations Specialist: $63k
  • Advertising and Sales Agent: $55k

4. Social Work

Average GPA: 3.4

Find schools with Social Work majors that match your profile.

It is somewhat deceptive to say social work is an easy major, even though it meets the criteria we are using for this list. Often, the greatest difficulty associated with this field is the emotional strain it takes to build a career in social work. Students who do best in social work are highly resilient and practice self-care. If you want to make a practical difference in the lives of others and possess a high EQ (Emotional Quotient, also known as emotional intelligence), consider this major. Earning a graduate degree is customary for those who wish to pursue a career in social work.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Social Work Graduates:

  • Mediator: $66k
  • Healthcare Social Worker (requires further education): $58k
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker (requires further education): $48k
  • Child, Family, and School Social Worker (requires further education): $48k

3. Education

Average GPA: 3.6

Average Weekly Study Hours: 14

Predicted 20-Year ROI: -$9,000

Find schools with Education majors that match your profile.

We are including education on the list of easiest majors because of the high average GPA. But be warned! It has an extremely low return on investment. If you are thinking of pursuing a teaching career, consider getting your undergraduate degree in your subject of interest rather than in teaching. With a teaching minor or summer program, you can easily fulfill your requirements to become a teacher. However, your major will give you more flexibility and earning potential in other careers if teaching does not turn out to be the field for you.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Education Graduates:

  • Instructional Coordinator (requires further education): $67k
  • Education Administration (requires further education): $98k
  • School Counselor (requires further education): $58k

2. Psychology

Average Weekly Study Hours: 13.5

Predicted 20-Year ROI: $198,000

See the best schools for Psychology majors.

Only within the past hundred years have we begun to objectively measure, analyze, and evaluate human behavior. Psychology majors study the progress we have made so far and participate in social science research to make further discoveries in their field. Psychology students typically have high GPAs relative to their peers, and the weekly homework load is not unreasonable. Job prospects coming out of psychology are not ample, but students willing to pursue a Ph.D. can become professors and lab researchers within their field of interest.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Psychology Graduates:

  • Research Assistant: $49k
  • Substance Abuse Counselor: $48k
  • Clinical Psychologist (requires further education): $82k
  • Psychology Professor (requires further education): $90k

1. Business Administration

See the best schools for Business majors.

Business administration ranks as our #1 easiest college major because it has that perfect trio of low weekly homework load, high average GPA, and great ROI. If you have solid business acumen, a head for figures, and a desire to work with people, could be a great-fit major for you. Just because it is easy to succeed in this major does not mean it is full of only easy classes. You can challenge yourself by taking rigorous quantitative courses and participating in internships that give you a taste of real-world business administration. No graduate school is required to excel in this field.

Potential Career Paths and Median Salaries for Business Administration Graduates:

  • Management Analyst: $88k
  • Personal Financial Advisor: $89k

You might also like our posts:

Easiest and Hardest Engineering Majors

Easiest and Hardest Science Majors

Because universities know that an intended major isn’t concrete, a student’s intended major generally will not affect whether or not they are accepted to a university. 

However, there are certain instances where an intended major may affect college chances. Some prestigious programs that directly admit students (like the USC Cinema Program or Penn’s Wharton School) have lower acceptance rates than that of the general university. Additionally, some large public universities (like those in the UC system) have specific numbers of students that they will accept for each major program. At these schools, if you are “on the bubble” for admissions, your intended major may become a factor.

Simply put, if your intended major has an impact on admissions, the impact will be very small . In general, your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and essays will determine your chances of admission at different colleges. To predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 schools across the country (using those important admissions factors!), utilize our free chancing engine . This engine will let you know how your application compares to those of other applicants and will also help you to improve your profile.

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What current seniors are saying

Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

A conversation with a Wheelock researcher, a BU student, and a fourth-grade teacher

child doing homework

“Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives,” says Wheelock’s Janine Bempechat. “It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.” Photo by iStock/Glenn Cook Photography

Do your homework.

If only it were that simple.

Educators have debated the merits of homework since the late 19th century. In recent years, amid concerns of some parents and teachers that children are being stressed out by too much homework, things have only gotten more fraught.

“Homework is complicated,” says developmental psychologist Janine Bempechat, a Wheelock College of Education & Human Development clinical professor. The author of the essay “ The Case for (Quality) Homework—Why It Improves Learning and How Parents Can Help ” in the winter 2019 issue of Education Next , Bempechat has studied how the debate about homework is influencing teacher preparation, parent and student beliefs about learning, and school policies.

She worries especially about socioeconomically disadvantaged students from low-performing schools who, according to research by Bempechat and others, get little or no homework.

BU Today  sat down with Bempechat and Erin Bruce (Wheelock’17,’18), a new fourth-grade teacher at a suburban Boston school, and future teacher freshman Emma Ardizzone (Wheelock) to talk about what quality homework looks like, how it can help children learn, and how schools can equip teachers to design it, evaluate it, and facilitate parents’ role in it.

BU Today: Parents and educators who are against homework in elementary school say there is no research definitively linking it to academic performance for kids in the early grades. You’ve said that they’re missing the point.

Bempechat : I think teachers assign homework in elementary school as a way to help kids develop skills they’ll need when they’re older—to begin to instill a sense of responsibility and to learn planning and organizational skills. That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success. If we greatly reduce or eliminate homework in elementary school, we deprive kids and parents of opportunities to instill these important learning habits and skills.

We do know that beginning in late middle school, and continuing through high school, there is a strong and positive correlation between homework completion and academic success.

That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success.

You talk about the importance of quality homework. What is that?

Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives. It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.

Janine Bempechat

What are your concerns about homework and low-income children?

The argument that some people make—that homework “punishes the poor” because lower-income parents may not be as well-equipped as affluent parents to help their children with homework—is very troubling to me. There are no parents who don’t care about their children’s learning. Parents don’t actually have to help with homework completion in order for kids to do well. They can help in other ways—by helping children organize a study space, providing snacks, being there as a support, helping children work in groups with siblings or friends.

Isn’t the discussion about getting rid of homework happening mostly in affluent communities?

Yes, and the stories we hear of kids being stressed out from too much homework—four or five hours of homework a night—are real. That’s problematic for physical and mental health and overall well-being. But the research shows that higher-income students get a lot more homework than lower-income kids.

Teachers may not have as high expectations for lower-income children. Schools should bear responsibility for providing supports for kids to be able to get their homework done—after-school clubs, community support, peer group support. It does kids a disservice when our expectations are lower for them.

The conversation around homework is to some extent a social class and social justice issue. If we eliminate homework for all children because affluent children have too much, we’re really doing a disservice to low-income children. They need the challenge, and every student can rise to the challenge with enough supports in place.

What did you learn by studying how education schools are preparing future teachers to handle homework?

My colleague, Margarita Jimenez-Silva, at the University of California, Davis, School of Education, and I interviewed faculty members at education schools, as well as supervising teachers, to find out how students are being prepared. And it seemed that they weren’t. There didn’t seem to be any readings on the research, or conversations on what high-quality homework is and how to design it.

Erin, what kind of training did you get in handling homework?

Bruce : I had phenomenal professors at Wheelock, but homework just didn’t come up. I did lots of student teaching. I’ve been in classrooms where the teachers didn’t assign any homework, and I’ve been in rooms where they assigned hours of homework a night. But I never even considered homework as something that was my decision. I just thought it was something I’d pull out of a book and it’d be done.

I started giving homework on the first night of school this year. My first assignment was to go home and draw a picture of the room where you do your homework. I want to know if it’s at a table and if there are chairs around it and if mom’s cooking dinner while you’re doing homework.

The second night I asked them to talk to a grown-up about how are you going to be able to get your homework done during the week. The kids really enjoyed it. There’s a running joke that I’m teaching life skills.

Friday nights, I read all my kids’ responses to me on their homework from the week and it’s wonderful. They pour their hearts out. It’s like we’re having a conversation on my couch Friday night.

It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Bempechat : I can’t imagine that most new teachers would have the intuition Erin had in designing homework the way she did.

Ardizzone : Conversations with kids about homework, feeling you’re being listened to—that’s such a big part of wanting to do homework….I grew up in Westchester County. It was a pretty demanding school district. My junior year English teacher—I loved her—she would give us feedback, have meetings with all of us. She’d say, “If you have any questions, if you have anything you want to talk about, you can talk to me, here are my office hours.” It felt like she actually cared.

Bempechat : It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Ardizzone : But can’t it lead to parents being overbearing and too involved in their children’s lives as students?

Bempechat : There’s good help and there’s bad help. The bad help is what you’re describing—when parents hover inappropriately, when they micromanage, when they see their children confused and struggling and tell them what to do.

Good help is when parents recognize there’s a struggle going on and instead ask informative questions: “Where do you think you went wrong?” They give hints, or pointers, rather than saying, “You missed this,” or “You didn’t read that.”

Bruce : I hope something comes of this. I hope BU or Wheelock can think of some way to make this a more pressing issue. As a first-year teacher, it was not something I even thought about on the first day of school—until a kid raised his hand and said, “Do we have homework?” It would have been wonderful if I’d had a plan from day one.

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Senior Contributing Editor

Sara Rimer

Sara Rimer A journalist for more than three decades, Sara Rimer worked at the Miami Herald , Washington Post and, for 26 years, the New York Times , where she was the New England bureau chief, and a national reporter covering education, aging, immigration, and other social justice issues. Her stories on the death penalty’s inequities were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Her journalism honors include Columbia University’s Meyer Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting. She holds a BA degree in American Studies from the University of Michigan. Profile

She can be reached at [email protected] .

Comments & Discussion

Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English. Statistics or facts must include a citation or a link to the citation.

There are 81 comments on Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

Insightful! The values about homework in elementary schools are well aligned with my intuition as a parent.

when i finish my work i do my homework and i sometimes forget what to do because i did not get enough sleep

same omg it does not help me it is stressful and if I have it in more than one class I hate it.

Same I think my parent wants to help me but, she doesn’t care if I get bad grades so I just try my best and my grades are great.

I think that last question about Good help from parents is not know to all parents, we do as our parents did or how we best think it can be done, so maybe coaching parents or giving them resources on how to help with homework would be very beneficial for the parent on how to help and for the teacher to have consistency and improve homework results, and of course for the child. I do see how homework helps reaffirm the knowledge obtained in the classroom, I also have the ability to see progress and it is a time I share with my kids

The answer to the headline question is a no-brainer – a more pressing problem is why there is a difference in how students from different cultures succeed. Perfect example is the student population at BU – why is there a majority population of Asian students and only about 3% black students at BU? In fact at some universities there are law suits by Asians to stop discrimination and quotas against admitting Asian students because the real truth is that as a group they are demonstrating better qualifications for admittance, while at the same time there are quotas and reduced requirements for black students to boost their portion of the student population because as a group they do more poorly in meeting admissions standards – and it is not about the Benjamins. The real problem is that in our PC society no one has the gazuntas to explore this issue as it may reveal that all people are not created equal after all. Or is it just environmental cultural differences??????

I get you have a concern about the issue but that is not even what the point of this article is about. If you have an issue please take this to the site we have and only post your opinion about the actual topic

This is not at all what the article is talking about.

This literally has nothing to do with the article brought up. You should really take your opinions somewhere else before you speak about something that doesn’t make sense.

we have the same name

so they have the same name what of it?

lol you tell her

totally agree

What does that have to do with homework, that is not what the article talks about AT ALL.

Yes, I think homework plays an important role in the development of student life. Through homework, students have to face challenges on a daily basis and they try to solve them quickly.I am an intense online tutor at 24x7homeworkhelp and I give homework to my students at that level in which they handle it easily.

More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress.

You know what’s funny? I got this assignment to write an argument for homework about homework and this article was really helpful and understandable, and I also agree with this article’s point of view.

I also got the same task as you! I was looking for some good resources and I found this! I really found this article useful and easy to understand, just like you! ^^

i think that homework is the best thing that a child can have on the school because it help them with their thinking and memory.

I am a child myself and i think homework is a terrific pass time because i can’t play video games during the week. It also helps me set goals.

Homework is not harmful ,but it will if there is too much

I feel like, from a minors point of view that we shouldn’t get homework. Not only is the homework stressful, but it takes us away from relaxing and being social. For example, me and my friends was supposed to hang at the mall last week but we had to postpone it since we all had some sort of work to do. Our minds shouldn’t be focused on finishing an assignment that in realty, doesn’t matter. I completely understand that we should have homework. I have to write a paper on the unimportance of homework so thanks.

homework isn’t that bad

Are you a student? if not then i don’t really think you know how much and how severe todays homework really is

i am a student and i do not enjoy homework because i practice my sport 4 out of the five days we have school for 4 hours and that’s not even counting the commute time or the fact i still have to shower and eat dinner when i get home. its draining!

i totally agree with you. these people are such boomers

why just why

they do make a really good point, i think that there should be a limit though. hours and hours of homework can be really stressful, and the extra work isn’t making a difference to our learning, but i do believe homework should be optional and extra credit. that would make it for students to not have the leaning stress of a assignment and if you have a low grade you you can catch up.

Studies show that homework improves student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college. Research published in the High School Journal indicates that students who spent between 31 and 90 minutes each day on homework “scored about 40 points higher on the SAT-Mathematics subtest than their peers, who reported spending no time on homework each day, on average.” On both standardized tests and grades, students in classes that were assigned homework outperformed 69% of students who didn’t have homework. A majority of studies on homework’s impact – 64% in one meta-study and 72% in another – showed that take home assignments were effective at improving academic achievement. Research by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) concluded that increased homework led to better GPAs and higher probability of college attendance for high school boys. In fact, boys who attended college did more than three hours of additional homework per week in high school.

So how are your measuring student achievement? That’s the real question. The argument that doing homework is simply a tool for teaching responsibility isn’t enough for me. We can teach responsibility in a number of ways. Also the poor argument that parents don’t need to help with homework, and that students can do it on their own, is wishful thinking at best. It completely ignores neurodiverse students. Students in poverty aren’t magically going to find a space to do homework, a friend’s or siblings to help them do it, and snacks to eat. I feel like the author of this piece has never set foot in a classroom of students.

THIS. This article is pathetic coming from a university. So intellectually dishonest, refusing to address the havoc of capitalism and poverty plays on academic success in life. How can they in one sentence use poor kids in an argument and never once address that poor children have access to damn near 0 of the resources affluent kids have? Draw me a picture and let’s talk about feelings lmao what a joke is that gonna put food in their belly so they can have the calories to burn in order to use their brain to study? What about quiet their 7 other siblings that they share a single bedroom with for hours? Is it gonna force the single mom to magically be at home and at work at the same time to cook food while you study and be there to throw an encouraging word?

Also the “parents don’t need to be a parent and be able to guide their kid at all academically they just need to exist in the next room” is wild. Its one thing if a parent straight up is not equipped but to say kids can just figured it out is…. wow coming from an educator What’s next the teacher doesn’t need to teach cause the kid can just follow the packet and figure it out?

Well then get a tutor right? Oh wait you are poor only affluent kids can afford a tutor for their hours of homework a day were they on average have none of the worries a poor child does. Does this address that poor children are more likely to also suffer abuse and mental illness? Like mentioned what about kids that can’t learn or comprehend the forced standardized way? Just let em fail? These children regularly are not in “special education”(some of those are a joke in their own and full of neglect and abuse) programs cause most aren’t even acknowledged as having disabilities or disorders.

But yes all and all those pesky poor kids just aren’t being worked hard enough lol pretty sure poor children’s existence just in childhood is more work, stress, and responsibility alone than an affluent child’s entire life cycle. Love they never once talked about the quality of education in the classroom being so bad between the poor and affluent it can qualify as segregation, just basically blamed poor people for being lazy, good job capitalism for failing us once again!

why the hell?

you should feel bad for saying this, this article can be helpful for people who has to write a essay about it

This is more of a political rant than it is about homework

I know a teacher who has told his students their homework is to find something they are interested in, pursue it and then come share what they learn. The student responses are quite compelling. One girl taught herself German so she could talk to her grandfather. One boy did a research project on Nelson Mandela because the teacher had mentioned him in class. Another boy, a both on the autism spectrum, fixed his family’s computer. The list goes on. This is fourth grade. I think students are highly motivated to learn, when we step aside and encourage them.

The whole point of homework is to give the students a chance to use the material that they have been presented with in class. If they never have the opportunity to use that information, and discover that it is actually useful, it will be in one ear and out the other. As a science teacher, it is critical that the students are challenged to use the material they have been presented with, which gives them the opportunity to actually think about it rather than regurgitate “facts”. Well designed homework forces the student to think conceptually, as opposed to regurgitation, which is never a pretty sight

Wonderful discussion. and yes, homework helps in learning and building skills in students.

not true it just causes kids to stress

Homework can be both beneficial and unuseful, if you will. There are students who are gifted in all subjects in school and ones with disabilities. Why should the students who are gifted get the lucky break, whereas the people who have disabilities suffer? The people who were born with this “gift” go through school with ease whereas people with disabilities struggle with the work given to them. I speak from experience because I am one of those students: the ones with disabilities. Homework doesn’t benefit “us”, it only tears us down and put us in an abyss of confusion and stress and hopelessness because we can’t learn as fast as others. Or we can’t handle the amount of work given whereas the gifted students go through it with ease. It just brings us down and makes us feel lost; because no mater what, it feels like we are destined to fail. It feels like we weren’t “cut out” for success.

homework does help

here is the thing though, if a child is shoved in the face with a whole ton of homework that isn’t really even considered homework it is assignments, it’s not helpful. the teacher should make homework more of a fun learning experience rather than something that is dreaded

This article was wonderful, I am going to ask my teachers about extra, or at all giving homework.

I agree. Especially when you have homework before an exam. Which is distasteful as you’ll need that time to study. It doesn’t make any sense, nor does us doing homework really matters as It’s just facts thrown at us.

Homework is too severe and is just too much for students, schools need to decrease the amount of homework. When teachers assign homework they forget that the students have other classes that give them the same amount of homework each day. Students need to work on social skills and life skills.

I disagree.

Beyond achievement, proponents of homework argue that it can have many other beneficial effects. They claim it can help students develop good study habits so they are ready to grow as their cognitive capacities mature. It can help students recognize that learning can occur at home as well as at school. Homework can foster independent learning and responsible character traits. And it can give parents an opportunity to see what’s going on at school and let them express positive attitudes toward achievement.

Homework is helpful because homework helps us by teaching us how to learn a specific topic.

As a student myself, I can say that I have almost never gotten the full 9 hours of recommended sleep time, because of homework. (Now I’m writing an essay on it in the middle of the night D=)

I am a 10 year old kid doing a report about “Is homework good or bad” for homework before i was going to do homework is bad but the sources from this site changed my mind!

Homeowkr is god for stusenrs

I agree with hunter because homework can be so stressful especially with this whole covid thing no one has time for homework and every one just wants to get back to there normal lives it is especially stressful when you go on a 2 week vaca 3 weeks into the new school year and and then less then a week after you come back from the vaca you are out for over a month because of covid and you have no way to get the assignment done and turned in

As great as homework is said to be in the is article, I feel like the viewpoint of the students was left out. Every where I go on the internet researching about this topic it almost always has interviews from teachers, professors, and the like. However isn’t that a little biased? Of course teachers are going to be for homework, they’re not the ones that have to stay up past midnight completing the homework from not just one class, but all of them. I just feel like this site is one-sided and you should include what the students of today think of spending four hours every night completing 6-8 classes worth of work.

Are we talking about homework or practice? Those are two very different things and can result in different outcomes.

Homework is a graded assignment. I do not know of research showing the benefits of graded assignments going home.

Practice; however, can be extremely beneficial, especially if there is some sort of feedback (not a grade but feedback). That feedback can come from the teacher, another student or even an automated grading program.

As a former band director, I assigned daily practice. I never once thought it would be appropriate for me to require the students to turn in a recording of their practice for me to grade. Instead, I had in-class assignments/assessments that were graded and directly related to the practice assigned.

I would really like to read articles on “homework” that truly distinguish between the two.

oof i feel bad good luck!

thank you guys for the artical because I have to finish an assingment. yes i did cite it but just thanks

thx for the article guys.

Homework is good

I think homework is helpful AND harmful. Sometimes u can’t get sleep bc of homework but it helps u practice for school too so idk.

I agree with this Article. And does anyone know when this was published. I would like to know.

It was published FEb 19, 2019.

Studies have shown that homework improved student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college.

i think homework can help kids but at the same time not help kids

This article is so out of touch with majority of homes it would be laughable if it wasn’t so incredibly sad.

There is no value to homework all it does is add stress to already stressed homes. Parents or adults magically having the time or energy to shepherd kids through homework is dome sort of 1950’s fantasy.

What lala land do these teachers live in?

Homework gives noting to the kid

Homework is Bad

homework is bad.

why do kids even have homework?

Comments are closed.

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College vs. High School: Homework

One of the biggest academic differences between high school and college is the homework. In college, professors assign homework in a different way and they have different expectations. Therefore, your whole routine of doing homework will be very unlike your routine in high school.

You will not have homework due every day

In high school, most of us had the same schedule every day. So we usually did homework for each class every night. But in college, you’ll probably have different classes every day. You will likely have more than one night to do your homework for any given class.

You have a lot of free time

In high school, students have a pretty full day. They’re in school from 8 to 3, doing extracurricular activities in the afternoon, and homework at night. In college, you have a lot of blocks of free time to spend however you chose. You’ll often face the choice between doing homework and doing something fun. You have to learn to have willpower and not get so easily distracted.

Bigger, more important assignments than in high school

Although college students don’t have work due every day, they have a lot more important essays and tests than in high school. It’s a lot more pressure, but if you study every night, you’ll be able to stay on top of it.

Most homework isn’t graded

College professors won’t usually grade the busy work they assign you. It’s mostly provided as a way to practice the material. So don’t stress too much about getting college homework exactly right, but definitely make sure you do it so you don’t fall behind.

Nadira Berman

As a Summer Marketing Intern, Nadira is excited to help high schoolers prepare for the SAT and ACT. As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, she is considering studying economics. In her free time, she reports for the school newspaper and styles photo shoots for the school’s fashion magazine. Besides fashion and journalism, her passions include bagels, smoothies and Netflix.

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'A college degree will always open more doors': How Keith Wynn empowers non-traditional students like himself

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 9, 2024) — For Keith Wynn , the assistant director of Transfer Recruitment at the University of Kentucky, the path to higher education was not a traditional one.

“In high school I was certainly not the best student. I didn’t take it seriously at all, so I dropped out of high school,” Wynn said. “After a few years of doing things like working in tobacco fields and delivering pizzas and things like that, I realized I wanted to do more.”

Determined to change his future, Wynn took the GED.

“For many years I did not want to admit that I had a GED. I would only disclose it if I needed to disclose it,” Wynn said. “There is a stigma associated with it because it is incredibly hard to go back and finish something that you didn’t finish to begin with.”

But he didn’t stop there. Imagining the possibility of pursing his undergraduate degree, Wynn also took the ACT and applied for college.

“I went to Morehead State University, changed my major seven or eight times because even though I was in college finally, I still had no idea what I wanted to do,” he said. “I also took some classes concurrently at Maysville Community College and then became a full transfer into Morehead and graduated from there in 2007.”

After college, Wynn became an admissions counselor where he discovered his passion for being in a student-centered field.

Wynn now helps transfer students, like himself, in their higher education journeys.

“When you are able to help somebody take a step that’s going to lead them down a road they never thought they would be able to go down, that is tremendously rewarding,” he said.

Wynn leads his students with the advice he wishes he could give his younger self.

“Do not limit yourself; do not put a ceiling above you where there does not need to be a ceiling. You can literally change the entire course of your family’s history by being the first one to take that step.”

He encourages his students to be proud of their non-traditional journeys and to reach out if they need help.

“Looking back, the GED is actually a more impressive accomplishment in my opinion, just because of the various hurdles you have to overcome in order to get it.”

Wynn wants transfer students to understand their value and the opportunities that await them at UK.

“We have over 200 degrees at UK, and we do not have a single bachelor’s degree that a transfer student cannot apply for and get admitted to — they have the same academic opportunity as any first-time freshman,” said Wynn. “What I will always argue is that a college degree will open more doors for you.”

See more about Wynn and his journey in the video above.

Find information about transfer admission at UK  here .

Keith Wynn at the UK Transfer Fair. Carter Skaggs | UKphoto

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.   

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“Telling people not to use ChatGPT is not preparing people for the world of the future,” said Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI.

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Did student or ChatGPT write that paper? Does it matter?

Sam Altman, CEO of firm that developed app, says ethics do matter, but they need to be rethought (and AI isn’t going away)

Harvard Correspondent

Colleges and universities have been wrestling with concerns over plagiarism and other ethical questions surrounding the use of AI since the emergence of ChatGPT in late 2022.

But Sam Altman, whose company, OpenAI, launched the chatbot app, said during a campus visit Wednesday that AI is such a powerful tool that higher education would be doing its students a disservice by turning its back on it — if that were even possible now. And some of the old rules of ethics will need to be rethought.

“Cheating on homework is obviously bad,” said Altman. “But what we mean by cheating and what the expected rules are does change over time.”

Altman discussed AI in the academy, along with the subtleties of using ChatGPT and other generative AI tools, while at the University to receive the Experiment Cup from Xfund , an early stage venture capital firm. That event was sponsored by the John A. Paulson School for Engineering and Applied Science, Harvard Business School, and the Institute for Business in Global Society ( BiGS ). It featured a conversation between Altman and Xfund co-founder Patrick Chung ’96.

Speaking to the Gazette before the Cup presentation, Altman likened the initial uproar at schools over ChatGPT to the ones that arose after the arrival of calculators and, later, search engines like Google. “People said, ‘We’ve got to ban these because people will just cheat on their homework,’” he said.

Altman, who left Stanford at 19 to start Loopt, a location-sharing social media app, said the reaction to calculators, for instance, was overblown. “If people don’t need to calculate a sine function by hand again … then mathematical education is over,” he said, with a gentle half-smile on his face.

Altman helped launch OpenAI in 2015 and its wildly influential ChatGPT — which can write papers and generate computer programs, among other things — before being removed in 2023 and then reinstated four days later as the company’s CEO.

ChatGPT, he said, has the potential to exponentially increase productivity in the same way calculators freed users from performing calculations by hand, calling the app “a calculator for words.”

He warned, “Telling people not to use ChatGPT is not preparing people for the world of the future.”

Following a bit of back-and-forth about how the ethics of using ChatGPT and other generative AI may differ in various disciplines, Altman came down hard in favor of utility, praising AI’s massive potential in every field.

“Standards are just going to have to evolve,” he said. He dismissed the notion that ChatGPT could be used for writing in the sciences, where the emphasis is on the findings, but not in the humanities, where the expression of ideas is central.

“Writing a paper the old-fashioned way is not going to be the thing,” he said. “Using the tool to best discover and express, to communicate ideas, I think that’s where things are going to go in the future.”

Altman, who last month joined the Department of Homeland Security’s Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security Board , said ethics remains a concern, and one that has yet to be resolved.

“There will be a conversation about what are the absolute limits of the tool, how do we as a society … negotiate ‘Here is what AI systems can never do.’ Where do we set the defaults? How much does an individual user get to move things around within those boundaries? How do we think about different countries’ laws?”

However, that discussion should not slow the development of AI. Instead, Altman described parallel tracks.

“Generally speaking, I do think these are tools that should do what their users want,” he said, before adding an important, if less than specific, caveat: “But there are going to have to be real limits.”

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Many prospective college students want to know what to expect from the college experience before they hit campus. Does college actually match up with the idealized experience you see in movies? 

The truth about college is that it can be a lot of different things at once--exciting, nerve-wracking, adventuresome, stressful, and so much fun. 

A lot of what college will be like is ultimately up to some of the choices you make, but there are also some basically universal truths about what college is like that it’s worth learning about before you get to campus. In this article, we’ll demystify the core components of a college education for you, including academics, extracurriculars, college social life, time management, working while in school, and living arrangements . We’ll also give you five tips for getting the most out of your college experience. 

So, what is collegereally  like? Keep reading to find out!


While you might identify with this furry guy right now, our article will get you prepared for your college experience. 

An Introduction to College Life 

Going to college is basically like a trial run at #adulting. You’re mostly responsible for your own life, but you’re still learning a lot about what you want your future to look like and how to get there (and it’s still okay for you to wear pajamas in public). Plus, you’ll be figuring all of this out with a lot of help from your friends, classmates, professors, and university mentors.

While you will have access to tons of support while you’re in college, your unique experience will depend a lot on how you respond to some of the things about college life that are new and living on your own, managing your commitments, and deciding how you spend your time. 

In the context of your newfound freedom, it's important to aim for balance . What “balance” looks like will be your choice, but thinking about how you want to approach the different demands on your time will help you thrive during your college years. 

To help you envision your future as a college student, we’ll answer the question, “What is college like?” in regard to six major aspects of the college experience: academics, extracurriculars, social life, time management, working while in school, and living arrangements.


Depending on the size of your college, you may find that some of your classes are held in large lecture halls.

What Is College Like in Terms of Academics?

The main point of going to college is getting a degree, right? Of course!

Since academics are the major reason you're in college, it stands to reason that your schoolwork will make up a big part of your college experience. We've decided to focus on two major aspects of your academic life: your major and your courseload. 

Your Academic Major 

At some point during your academic career, you'll have to declare a major . When you do this will depend on your university. Some schools ask you to declare a major when you apply, while others allow you to spend your freshman and sophomore years as "undeclared" (which just means you haven't chosen a major yet).

Because students can, and often do, change their majors during their college careers, your college courses are split into categories: your general education courses, your major courses, and your electives. 

One quick caveat: not all schools split their classes into the three categories above. For example, an art school may not require general education classes at all!

General Education Courses

It’s typical for students to complete what are usually called “general education” (gen ed) courses during their freshman and sophomore years of college. These are the core classes that all students have to take in order to graduate, regardless of their major. Gen ed courses are usually a mix of math, science, and humanities classes that are designed to ensure you're getting a well-rounded education.

Some students feel that gen ed courses are a waste of time, while others enjoy the opportunity to take classes in different subject areas and increase their general knowledge before moving into more specialized courses during their last two years of college. That's pretty normal, especially since gen ed courses are designed to broaden your knowledge base across a wide range of disciplines.

Major Courses

The other types of courses you'll take in college are your major courses. These are the classes you need to complete in order to earn a specific major!

Major classes differ from your gen ed courses in a few ways. First, they're much more specific than your gen ed classes. While you may take introductory courses to satisfy gen ed credits, your major classes are designed to take a deep dive into the topic you're studying.

For example, if you're majoring in biology, you'll have to take advanced classes like cell biology and biochemistry. Y ou may even have to declare an emphasis, or specialty, within your major ! For instance, some biology departments offer more specialized major programs in fields like neuroscience or microbiology . 

Sometimes, students will feel more pressure to do well once they get into these specialized courses, since it may feel like their performance in these courses reflects on their potential to do well in their future career. It’s also common for students to feel much more excited about and interested in attending their major’s courses since these courses fall into the subject area that you picked out yourself. 

One thing that’s important to know is that it’s totally normal to change your major or second-guess your choice of major . Choosing a career path is a big decision, and many students don’t feel ready to make that choice right when they start college. When you do settle on a major, though, you may also find that you have the chance to build relationships with faculty in your department. These relationships can be valuable when you need advice or a letter of recommendation . 


Your high school may have allowed you to take elective courses , and most colleges do, too. Elective courses are classes that aren't specifically required by the university, your college, or your  department. Basically, elective courses are classes you get to choose to take because you're interested in them. 

Electives give you the freedom to explore topics outside of your major so that you can learn more about the world, develop new skills, or even earn a minor in a different subject . Elective courses give students a chance to shape their education into a unique experience that's a perfect fit for your future plans and goals. 

Many universities require that students take a certain number of elective classes before they graduate. Depending on your goals, you can use your electives to explore your interests, or you can leverage these slots in your degree plan to earn additional distinctions , like graduating with honors . If you plan ahead, you can even use electives to help you on your way to earning a double major ! 


You'll sign up for your courses at the beginning of each term. Universities usually have two or more terms per academic year. 

Your Class Schedule 

Future college students are often curious how difficult college classes will be. The truth is: it's hard to know! 

The difficulty of your classes will depend on your own abilities, your major, and the amount of effort and time you put into their courses. It’s generally true, though, that upper-level classes in a student’s major will be more demanding in terms of the workload and expectations than general education or prerequisite courses. 

Another thing that can make a student’s academic experience more challenging is their schedule of classes for the semester. Most universities list classes in terms of hours. A typical class is three hours, whereas a class with a lab component is usually four hours. In order to graduate, you'll have to earn a certain number of hours toward your degree, with a specific percentage of those being within your major field. 

The typical courseload for a full-time student is generally considered to be 15 hours. But you can take more (or less) depending on your needs! Regardless of how many hours you decide to take, working with your academic advisor to put together a schedule that is manageable for you in terms of workload and difficulty is very important. 

Keep in mind that taking more hours isn't always better...or even more efficient! If your 18 hour courseload is burning you out (and lowering your GPA), it probably makes more sense to reduce your courseload so you can be more successful. Additionally, a smaller courseload doesn't always mean it's going to be easier! Taking 15 hours of gen ed courses will probably be easier than taking 11 hours of upper-level major courses. Consequently, be sure you're thinking about the difficulty of each class as you build your schedule each semester. 

The great thing about college is that you also have a lot of flexibility around how you take your classes . Some students like to take all morning classes so that they can be done with class for the day around noon. Others like to take only afternoon classes so they can sleep in or study in the mornings. Some students try to put together a Tuesday/Thursday class schedule so they can have three days a week off from class, while other students schedule their courses around their work schedules! You can even take a mix of in-person and online courses if your campus offers the choice! Going to your advising appointments with an idea of what classes you need/want to take and the kind of schedule you’re hoping for in mind will help you work with your advisor to get the schedule you want. 

Building your class schedule each semester is fun, but be sure to have a back-up plan just in case. Classes can fill up quickly during registration, so having a back-up plan for your semester schedule is a good idea too. Working with your advisor to create two or three potential course plans can ensure that you're able to enroll in classes that help you meet your graduation requirements. 


College extracurriculars include everything from debate to sports. You'll definitely be able to find an extracurricular activity that suits you! 

What Is College Like in Terms of Extracurriculars?

The great thing about college extracurriculars is that students get to choose which ones they’re involved in. Just like high school, college extracurriculars are clubs, organizations, and activities you can participate in outside of the classroom. 

It’s common for college students to choose extracurriculars based on their hobbies, values, beliefs, or desire to be a part of a community. The main point of these activities, clubs, and organizations is to help students connect with others who have common interests or goals and support each other through the college experience.

Keep in mind that some collegiate extracurricular activities are more high-intensity than others. We’re talking about extracurricular activities that demand a lot of your time outside of class, host a lot of compulsory involvement activities, and strongly encourage participants to mold their college identity around their involvement in these extracurriculars. Three examples of high-intensity extracurriculars are fraternities and sororities, ROTC , and student government. If you want to be involved in organizations like these, you'll need to be extra diligent about building your course schedule and keeping up with your studies. 

But “high-intensity” doesn’t mean bad! Many students find that they thrive in extracurriculars that are built on consistency, accountability, and high expectations. Most of the time, too, these extracurriculars make students feel like they’re really a part of something and provide a close knit support system of peers to rely on during college and beyond. 

Some college students are more interested in being involved in extracurriculars that provide more flexibility in a relaxed, low-stress environment that still provides the opportunity to connect with others around a common interest. These lower intensity extracurriculars could include intramural sports, service-learning programs, campus festivals, concerts, lectures, or discussions to promote multicultural awareness. 

Involvement in extracurriculars might seem like an afterthought to the academic side of college life, but studies have actually shown that students who are involved in extracurricular activities gain essential life skills and are more likely to view their college years as a positive experience. Many students find that involvement in extracurriculars is an irreplaceable part of their college education and invest a lot of their non-academic time in this form of involvement.


The key to a successful college experience? Balancing your social life with your academics and other responsibilities!

What Is College Like in Terms of Social Life?

At most colleges, there are what will seem like endless opportunities for social engagements. Since a college is like its own little community, there are many social events that happen on-campus that are either free or very inexpensive for students to attend . These events can range from athletic competitions, to theatre productions, to fundraising or community service events, to events in the dorms, like movie nights or pancake suppers. 

It’s typical for there to be on-campus social events of some kind nearly every night of the week. One of the best things about on-campus social events is that they’re often free or heavily discounted for students. They’re also an opportunity to see or meet people who you don’t see everyday during class or in the dorm. 

For many students, getting to know the wider community in which their college is located is really important in addition to attending on campus social events. Many students get involved with local nonprofits or charities, churches or other religious groups, or attend events hosted by local businesses. Some on-campus organizations or clubs will even partner with groups in the community to host events. 

But you don't have to take our word for it. Lilly, a junior in college, gives this advice to incoming freshmen who are worried about having a social life during college:  

“If you’re bored and can’t find anything to do in college, you’re not looking hard enough. There are tons of events happening all around you. Take it upon yourself to learn where to find information about campus and community lectures, concerts and the like. Your school’s website is the best place to start.” 

At the end of the day, there are constant opportunities to enjoy college social life, if you put yourself out there. Some of the most fun and memorable moments during college are impromptu, like a dance party in the dorm hallways at midnight or a Mario Kart tournament in the dorm lobby. The key to having a positive social experience during college is to be open-minded and willing to put yourself out there. 


Many students work and attend school at the same time. Working can be a great way to help alleviate the cost of college! 

Can You Work While Going to College? 

Many college students work while they’re in school. There are two types of jobs that students often get while in college: on-campus jobs and off-campus jobs. 

On-Campus Jobs

Most universities offer many part-time job opportunities for students. These jobs can be found in almost every department on a university’s campus, from the health and wellness clinic, to the dorms, to the groundskeeping crew. Because they don’t require leaving campus, on-campus jobs are typically pretty competitive, especially the kind that put their student workers out there as the “face” of the university, like campus tour guide jobs for prospective students and parents.

While some of these jobs will be open to all students, others will be reserved for students who qualify for work study . In order to do so, you have to meet specific financial need requirements. You can learn more about work study--and how to qualify for it--in this artice !

Whether you have work study or not, if you want to work on campus, you'll need to keep your grades up. Some work-study jobs have minimum GPA requirements, and you don't want your work to interfere with your ability to apply for internships, grants, and awards that take your GPA into consideration.

Off-Campus Jobs

Unfortunately, on-campus jobs aren’t available to every college student, so many students get a part-time job off-campus. It’s common for businesses in college towns to hire college students, both during the school year and over the summer/holiday breaks. 

If you're considering working off-campus as a full-time student, you'll need to think about how to balance your classes and extracurriculars with your work responsibilities. Many off-campus jobs, particularly in food services or customer service industry, require you to work an evening schedule and/or weekend schedule. Keeping that in mind can help you be proactive about managing your academics and your work responsibilities. 

Working during college doesn't mean you won’t have any time to study or engage in college social life. It just means you have to manage your time and communicate clearly with your supervisor about your unavailability. In fact, many students enjoy working while attending school because it gives them professional experience and more financial freedom. 


Many students live on-campus in dormitories for at least a portion of their college careers. But there are off-campus housing options, too. 

Where Will You Live During College?

One of the most exciting things about going to college for many students is living on your own. There are two main types of living arrangement options at most colleges: on-campus housing, and off-campus housing. We’ll break down these two types of college living arrangements next. 

On-Campus Housing

On-campus housing refers to dormitories (sometimes called “residence halls”) and apartment-style living that is located on a university’s campus. 

Many students love this housing option because it usually gives students the option to walk to class, the library, and on-campus dining. Living on-campus also makes many students feel that they’re more involved in campus social life since the university is right outside their front door... literally. 

Each university determines who can or can't live on campus, but it’s pretty common for there to be dorms dedicated to first-year students and optional on-campus housing opportunities for upperclassmen or non-traditional students. In many cases, the dorm situation is a bit like its stereotype: there are roommates, community bathrooms, study groups in the hallways, and Resident Assistants or Advisors (RAs) who will check in to make sure you’re doing well. 

But there are a lot of variations to dorm-style housing that students can often choose from. Some dorms offer single rooms (without a roommate!) and private bathrooms. Others offer suite or pod-style housing, where students share a centralized common room with, say, four other individual dorm rooms. Some suites even have a private kitchenette! At some schools, dorms are separated based on gender, while others offer co-ed housing options. 

Probably the most exciting thing about living on-campus is the opportunity to spend more time with your friends and classmates. In a dorm situation, there’s almost always someone studying in the hallway, having a movie night in their room, or hanging in the lobby playing games. There are usually quite a few shenanigans, too! On the other hand, though, you can always close your door and take some time to yourself. Living on campus gives you the opportunity to be as social and involved as you feel comfortable with. 

Off-Campus Housing

There’s also the option of off-campus housing. Many juniors and seniors will choose this housing option, but some schools also allow freshmen and sophomores to opt for off-campus housing as well . The types of off-campus housing that are available and affordable usually depends on the town or city your college is located in. It’s common for off-campus college students to rent apartments, townhouses, or regular houses and live with roommates to keep the costs affordable. 

Finding off-campus housing is a bit different from signing up to live on-campus in the dorms. With off-campus housing, it’s going to be your responsibility to find an apartment, put in an application, and have conversations with friends about splitting rent and bills. That means you'll have to be proactive about finding off-campus housing! 

It’s also important to think about who you’re willing to live with for a year (or longer) . Unlike in the dorms, there won’t be an RA to help mediate disagreements about the living space, and it’ll be much more difficult to get out of a rental agreement in a house or apartment. Choose your roommates wisely! Just because you're BFFs with a person doesn't mean you'll be able to cohabitate well.  

Besides finding roommates for off-campus housing, many students wonder if they’ll become disconnected from campus life if they move off-campus. You might have to make more of an effort to get to campus and spend time attending events there. On the flip side, if you live off-campus your junior and senior year, you might have a core group of friends established already, and enjoy the opportunity to hang out in your own spaces away from campus. So really, you'll be able to dictate how involved you are (or aren't!) once you move into off-campus housing. 


No matter what your major is, you'll need to develop time management skills to stay on top of your academics. (Managing your time will also help you fit fun things into your schedule, too!) 

How Do College Students Manage Their Time? 

The last aspect of college life that we’ll address is time management, because it plays a big role in shaping what a college student’s experience will be like in all of the other areas described here. Developing a time management plan will allow you to dedicate your time to several different things during college without becoming burnt out along the way. 

Everyone is unique, which means you'll have to experiment to find the time management tactics that work best for you. Digital reminders are a good motivator for some students, while others like to keep a paper calendar on the wall of their dorm room. Whatever your approach to time management, it’s important that you figure out your time management techniques early in your college career. That way you stay on top of your work, keep your GPA up, and can still have a great time! 

Additionally, college students will tell you that it’s important to prioritize the academic side of college life in your time management strategy. Brooke, a student in New York , says this: 

“ Put your classes first . I know this sounds crazy, especially if you’re a freshman, you might be thinking, ‘Of course I’ll go to class!’. But in college, not everyone goes to class. Especially if it’s in a mass lecture hall and [the professors] aren’t taking attendance, it’s really easy to skip and be like, ‘I’m just not gonna go’. But I don’t agree with that. I think that the first step to success in school is going to class.” 

Brooke’s advice on how to make sure you make it to class every time? Use your planner. You can check out our favorite digital and physical planners that will set you up for academic success in this article . Even if you didn't use a planner in high school, you'll need to get into the habit in college if you want to keep all of your assignments, due dates, and extracurricular activities straight. 

In general, most college students will tell you that the only bad time management strategy is not having one at all! They’d also probably tell you that no one is perfect, and that’s okay. There will probably be at least a handful of times when you forget about a quiz or have to study at the last minute. If you’re doing your best, just cut yourself some slack when you have an off-day. It happens to every college student sometimes! You just want to avoid making it a habit. 


While college can be tough, following our advice can make sure you don't feel like Grizzled Leonardo DiCaprio by the time you graduate.

4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your College Experience

Since much of what college is like will be up to you, here are four tips for getting everything you can out of these four years of your life!

Tip 1: Get a Planner

We already mentioned this, but it's worth saying again: if you want to make the most of the time you have in college, get and use a planner . Planning how to spend your time on a daily and weekly basis is key to your overall success. 

Budgeting your time well allows you to really enjoy your leisure time too. When you're on top of your schedule, you don't have to stress out about when you'll do your homework or if you'll have a few hours to relax. You'll already have those things mapped out! Keeping up with a planner takes consistency and commitment, but the time and stress it will save you is worth it in the grand scheme of your college experience. 

Tip 2: Get Involved

One of the best things about college life is the chance to be a part of a community of peers in a place that is totally dedicated to facilitating a positive experience for you. The more you put yourself out there and get involved in that community, the more likely it is that you’ll feel like your college is a place where you belong. 

Pursuing extracurricular activities and attending social events on campus is the best way to meet new people, make friends, and find people to make memories with during college. Feeling connected to the people around you can make college feel like a home away from home--and that’s never a bad thing. 

Tip 3: Be Present

There’s nothing wrong with snagging some quality pics for your Insta story or keeping in touch with family/friends back home, but one of the best ways to feel like you’re having meaningful experiences in your college social life is by just being present. When you get to know your dorm neighbors, chat with the person sitting next to you in class, or strike up a convo with the person in line behind you at a coffee shop, you open yourself up to new knowledge, new relationships, and powerful memories from your college years. 

It may be tempting to go home to visit old friends every weekend or hide out in your room, especially at the beginning of college, but taking the plunge and allowing yourself to dive into the newness of college will help you feel more invested in making it a positive experience.

Tip 4: Work Hard

Since it sometimes feels like there’s endless free time in college, it can be easy to put off the difficult parts of the experience, like studying for tests, getting homework done, and writing essays. Most students want to do well in their classes and make good grades, but it can be hard to feel motivated if it seems like everyone around you is somehow always out having fun instead of hitting the books.

Though it might be a drag at the time, working hard on a consistent basis --especially early in the semester--will make the academic side of your college experience less painful in the long run. When you pay attention in class, show up consistently, and study hard, you save yourself from having to retake courses, pull all-nighters during finals week, or beg your professors for extra credit at the end of the semester. 


What's Next? 

You've probably realized that college can be pretty dang awesome. We agree! Now it's time to focus on getting in. This article will give you a general overview of the college application process. You can learn even more about specific aspects of your application, like your admissions essays and entrance interviews , on our blog ! We have tons of amazing resources for college hopefuls, so be sure to check it out.

One of the keys to having a great college experience is picking a school that's right for you . The good news is that there are tons of colleges out there! The bad news is that it can be hard to narrow the field down. Learn more about how to choose your potential schools here .

For some students, academics are the most important part of choosing their dream school . If that's the case for you, be sure to check out our guide to the top academic colleges in the United States .

Want to build the best possible college application?   We can help.   PrepScholar Admissions combines world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've guided thousands of students to get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit and are driven to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in:

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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‘It Feels Like I Am Screaming Into the Void With Each Application’

An illustration depicting the orange silhouette of a person sitting down, their arms around their knees as if dejected, wearing a blue mortarboard.

By Peter Coy

Opinion Writer

When I asked new college graduates last month to tell me about their job searches, I got back a ton of heartache. Unanswered applications. Lowered expectations. For some, a sense that college was a waste of time and money.

John York wrote that he was about to earn a master’s degree in mathematics from New York University. “I have submitted close to 400 applications. I have heard back from less than 40, all rejections,” he wrote. “I essentially cannot get any job, because there are no entry-level positions anywhere at all.” He has a patent, he passed the first-level exam for Chartered Financial Analysts and he’s getting his Series 3 license, another financial credential. Nevertheless, he wrote, “It is just so silent, it feels like I am screaming into the void with each application I am filling out.”

Mauricio Naranjo, who is seeking work as a graphic designer, wrote, “Over the past year, I have submitted more than 400 applications and consistently receive a response that appears to be A.I.-generated, stating that unfortunately, they have moved forward with another candidate who better fits their expectations. This is the exact phrasing every time. Very few respond, as most do not reply at all.”

“Exhausting. Utterly demoralizing,” wrote Beth Donnelly, who is graduating this month with a major in linguistics and minors in German and teaching English as a second language. “I’ve been searching since early August for full-time, part-time or internship positions after I graduate. I’ve started putting my ‘desired salary’ at $35,000 in hope that just one person will think, ‘Oh, I won’t have to pay this person a large wage, so they get a leg up in the hiring process.’”

I got some positive responses, too. Lucinda Warnke, who landed a job in journalism as a general assignment reporter, wrote: “I am optimistic and excited! I feel confident in my career trajectory and my ability to build a stable, satisfying career. The job I got out of school comes with a livable wage and benefits, so I can build savings in the event that I am laid off or have some other financially demanding emergency. I feel like I made a good investment in my education because I went to a school that was affordable and studied subjects that balanced my interests with my professional needs.”

A majority of responses were grim, though. That’s not too surprising, given that half of college graduates are underemployed a year after graduation, meaning that they are working in jobs that don’t require the degrees they earned, as I wrote in my April 29 newsletter.

There’s clearly something wrong when young graduates can’t find jobs at the same time that employers complain of not being able to find qualified workers. As of March, there were still fewer unemployed people than job openings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In April the unemployment rate remained below average at 3.9 percent.

The responses I got aren’t a representative sample of all college graduates. It’s possible that unhappy people were more likely to write in. (I had to leave out some of the angriest and most dejected people because they didn’t want their names to appear.) Separately, my informal impression is that the people who wrote — happy or sad — were more likely to have attended a highly ranked school and to have graduated without student loans than the general student population.

Many students wrote that the jobs they were seeking or secured didn’t draw on what they learned in the classroom. “I will be using the skills I picked up in my data science minor, but nothing from my major (international relations),” Rain Orsi, a 2024 graduate, wrote. “A lot of the educational stuff could’ve been condensed to a 20-page PDF and I probably would be at the same knowledge level,” another student wrote. Jackeline Arcara wrote that if she had it to do over again, “I wouldn’t go to a four-year, fancy-pants school. I would take classes at a local college part-time and see where that takes me.”

Some students said that classroom learning was only part of what made college worthwhile to them. “College gives you four years to grow up — I have the maturity now to handle a full-time job. Before college, not so much,” wrote Caroline Lidz, who got a job in public relations after graduating in December with a degree in media studies and communications and a minor in art history.

Several said internships matter, a lot. “I wish I interned for a company outside of the school instead of being a research/lab assistant,” wrote Roger Vitek, who is graduating in June with a degree in product design and is still job hunting.

Economists have found that what you study in college is at least as important as where you study. As I wrote in my April 29 piece, there’s relatively strong demand for computer science, engineering, mathematics and math-intensive business fields such as finance and accounting.

But as I found out from the people who wrote in, that’s not always the case. Robert Vermeulen, a computer science major, wrote, “Out of the ~155 applications I haven’t had a reference on, I have gotten zero interviews.” Morgan Steckler wrote that he is looking for a software engineering or I.T. administration role paying at least $70,000 a year, but has had no luck so far. He said he’s thinking of bartending while continuing to send out applications. On the positive side, there are people like Warnke, who got a job as a reporter — not exactly a fast-growing profession.

As I read students’ responses, I had to remind myself that this is actually a relatively good year for finding a job. To a lot of members of the class of ’24, it doesn’t feel that way. Julia Brukx, who is graduating with a degree in history and art history, wrote, “I think I hit a new low just this morning when asked to write a cover letter for a retail position.”

Donnelly, the woman who described her job search as demoralizing, wrote: “I was told that if I was involved, active, kind, ready to learn, driven and intelligent, I would end up with a job out of college. This is evidently not true, and few older people seem to understand this.” She added, “I don’t have a backup plan besides working in the service industry.”

Elsewhere: Caps, Not Bans, for Short-Term Rentals

New York City’s Local Law 18, which was passed with the support of the hotel industry, tightens the rules on renting out rooms for less than 30 days. Supporters say renting rooms to tourists raises rents for New Yorkers. But an article published in Harvard Business Review by three scholars — one of whom used to work for Airbnb — calculates that Airbnb caused only about 1 percent of the aggregate increase in rents over the past decade or so. Hosts, guests and the businesses that serve them benefit. To keep certain neighborhoods from being overwhelmed by tourists, the authors recommend caps on how many nights per year a place may be rented out.

Quote of the Day

“The hedonistic conception of man is that of a lightning calculator of pleasures and pains who oscillates like a homogeneous globule of desire of happiness under the impulse of stimuli that shift him about the area, but leave him intact. He has neither antecedent nor consequent.”

— Thorstein Veblen, “Why Is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?” (1898)

Peter Coy is a writer for the Opinion section of The Times, covering economics and business. Email him at [email protected] . @ petercoy


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