Dumb work wastes students’ time
You know it’s a bad week when it’s lights out anytime between 3 and 5 a.m. and your alarm goes off at 6. But it’s just sleep, right?
I overbook myself — lots of students do. But as October creeps near, it seems to me that I see more zombified classmates than usual at this time of year. Perhaps we are having trouble with time management. For me, the issue is prioritizing my workload within my time management plan.
It’s hard: I know I need to get stories done for the Review by Thursday at the latest or else some topic goes unreported and some page of the paper suddenly transforms into a half-page house ad saying, “Come work for us!” (Seriously, come work for us.)
But what about those 17 credits of class? Shouldn’t academics always come first?
Faculty, cover your ears (er, eyes); students, I’m here to tell you that, no, academics do not always come first. Why? I could say it’s because student interest lies elsewhere, and that would be true. I could say it’s because students don’t care as much about classes outside their major, and I wouldn’t be lying, either. But I have recently been reminded of another reason: dumb assignments.
The other night, I was stuck with a bunch of homework. We’ve all been in that situation. It demands prioritizing. But what to do first? Read 80 pages of a textbook or conduct research for a speech or draft documents for TLR staff?
Here’s what wasn’t on my priority list: studying for a vocabulary test. Matching. For a 400-level class.
Perhaps I should be grateful for such an effortless assignment, but I was frustrated by it. Why should I waste my time on such a task? More importantly, why did the professor assign something as useless as a matching vocabulary quiz? As a hard-working, busy student at a prestigious college, I almost consider this an insult to my intelligence.
If I see another assignment that says “summarize” unaccompanied by the words “then analyze,” I’ll … well, I’ll probably just hang my head, sigh and put it way low on my “to do” list.
But the point is this is college, people. As college students, we have hectic schedules and a lot on our plates. Don’t waste our time with tedious busy work that doesn’t challenge us. Give us assignments with purpose. It shouldn’t be easy for us to decide what homework might have to be left untouched during an all-nighter.
As faculty, you don’t want your time wasted with student work that was clearly done five minutes before class. So don’t assign us work that can be completed in that time.
Make it worth our time to try.
Kelley Hungerford can be reached at email@example.com.