The Major-Major Time Difference

We all know the saying that goes, “we’re all in the same boat, and the boat is sinking”. I’ve always heard this be used for all of us college students. We are all living the same rough college-student life. But are we? Being a chemical engineering student, I ride the boat that is always short on time. Assignments are never-ending and free time feels nonexistent with so many responsibilities. I have always been curious whether this is a common feeling. Certain people always seem to be out and doing fun things on the daily. So, I spoke to a couple friends in different majors to try and figure out how much of a major difference there really is, and why.

The Lalagirl Looking Through Books

Fiona, Chemical Engineering

Fiona is one of my best friends in engineering. Her responsibilities are similar to mine, so her available time, management, and classes reflect mine as well.

Classes she is taking: Mass Transfer, Biochemical Engineering, Chemical Process Safety, Kinetics, Communications, and Animations.

Hours per day spent on assignments: Around 6 hours not including class.

How often she knows how to do problems on an assignment right after reading the statement: Only 15% of the time. Otherwise, help sessions are needed for clarification and assistance.

Attends help hours: Yes very often, but not as often as she would like due to work. “Anna goes to almost all the hours and relays back the info to me”. Glad to help darlin!

How many days in advance she studies for a test: Typically 3 days since we still have assignments for every other class due.

How much free time she gets per day: ~2 hours

 

Hannah, Criminology & Psycology

Classes she’s taking: Math requirement, Film, Women and Crime, Juvenile Delinquency, and Jurisprudence of criminal law.

Hours per day spent on assignments: Around 2.

How often she knows how to do problems on an assignment right after reading the statement: Almost immediately, especially when writing papers. Unless it’s her math class.

Attends help hours: Yes, but friends and study groups are also very helpful.

How many days in advance she studies for a test: She is a “huge procrastinator” and does better under pressure. She typically starts 2 days before.

How much free time she gets per day: 4

 

Emma, Kinesiology

Classes she’s taking: Aging and Exercise, Exercise Programming, Applications of Human Motor Development, and Kinesiology.

Hours per day spent on assignments: 3-4, her classes are very conceptual.

How often she knows how to do problems on an assignment right after reading the statement: Typically pretty quickly, or if not, she’ll take 10-15 minutes to look at notes before figuring it out.

Attends help hours: She does a lot of studying and learning on her own, but if she is really struggling she’ll attend office hours. Most of the time, she can complete assignments without help using notes and lecture slides.

How many days in advance she studies for a test: Around 3 days, but it depends on the class. Sometimes she will start reviewing material the week before.

How much free time she gets per day: 2-3

Anna Schultz-Girl Using Laptop In Cozy Bed

Based on these responses, it was interesting to see the hourly breakdown. Since most of us college students work, I was not surprised to hear that no matter the major, actual “free time” is limited. Most of us have jobs that we fill our spare time with. The most interesting response was knowledge on homework problems. Since I’m stuck in my little engineering bubble, it’s hard to imagine being able to complete homework problems with almost no assistance. Being a frequent attendee of daily office hours and help sessions, I don’t know how I would even do assignments without them. Seeing these responses, there is a strong correlation between assignment content and available time. Majors where it is typically harder to be efficient due to content tend to result in more time expended per day, which adds up to weeks and months. When it comes to tests, the amount of days studied in advance has almost no difference. However, it’s not a “one size fits all”. I know plenty of people in engineering who also work very well under pressure, resulting in less time spent per day, but then much more time spent in a single day. The difference isn’t anything incredibly drastic, but efficiency seems to be the key.