Student Loan Lifestyles

Career College Central summary:

  • What is the impact of borrowing during the college years? A study released at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association suggests that students who borrow are likely to have notably different experiences while in college from those who are able to enroll debt-free. There are two distinct patterns for student borrowers — and one has many more negative associations.
  • The study was based on surveys of students that asked them how much time each week they spend on certain activities. The data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen, which tracked students from nine liberal arts colleges, 14 private research universities, four public research universities and one historically black college.
  • The students were asked about hours spent in both academic and non-academic activities: studying, attending class, lab work, work for pay, watching television, listening to music, athletics (both participating and watching), attending parties, socializing and sleep, among others. As the researchers examined patterns, they found three patterns among students, with those borrowing ending up in two of them:
  1. "Serious Student" (about 38 percent) is one of the groups of student borrowers. These students focus on academic and work-related activities, and are less involved in other activities than are those in the other two categories.
  2. "Disengaged" (about 29 percent) is the other group of student borrowers. These students are the least likely, on average, to be spending time on either academics or student organizations. They spend more time than do others on media (television and music) and on sleep.
  3. "Play Hard" (about 32 percent) is the category that is much less likely to include those who borrow. This group prioritizes time on athletics, student activities and partying, with lots of time also devoted to music. They spend less time on academics than do serious students, but appear to spend enough time "to get by," just not enough to excel.

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