A day in the life of your average college student tends to go one of two ways. Either they’re up before the sun, hitting the gym, dining hall, and library in that order, and then are still somehow always the first ones into the lecture hall.
Then there’s the rest of them—rolling out of bed six minutes before their 8:00am class, scarfing down a bagel on the way, and considering it a win if they even open a textbook that day. Hey, no judgement here.
People enter their college careers with varying levels of motivation. Some people are 100% grind all the time, and others less so. Having a day or two off, whether in the form of a long holiday weekend or a random Thursday in the middle of the spring semester, can mean different things to different people.
All that is to say—today we’re digging into students’ responses to a rather revealing Marriage Pact question at three schools: If you do nothing all day, how do you feel? Responses fell on a scale of one to seven, with one representing “like a lard” and seven representing “like royalty”.
Average responses for students at Dartmouth, the University of Michigan, and Ohio State each skewed just below the average.
Dartmouth: 3, UMich: 3.2, Ohio: 3.3
Right off the bat, students tend to feel more lazy than pampered or well-rested after a day off. College is a difficult and expensive investment for most. It can be hard to feel like you’ve earned a day off, especially when you risk putting off other priorities.
But not all majors are created equal. How might a student’s chosen field of study impact their dedication to the grind?
At each school, non-STEM majors were more likely to answer higher on the one-to-seven scale than STEM majors.
No matter what school you’re at, most STEM programs are notorious for their rigorous, time-intensive courseload. My communications degree and I can’t necessarily speak to the truth of that, but at Dartmouth, UMich, and Ohio, the majors with the highest average answer were primarily humanities and foreign language majors.
Now, moving on to a few other demographic analyses. Are seniors and first-born kids as jaded as they say?
At each school, seniors and only children had the highest averages. At Dartmouth and UMich, first-born children and first-years answered the lowest, while the same was true of middle children and juniors at Ohio State.
That seems to track. For many, the first year you spend at college is a study (no pun intended) in time management and balancing priorities, especially if you’re the first one of your siblings (or the rest of your family, for that matter) to attend a university. Having too much unused downtime can be stressful in and of itself and make you feel like you’re either forgetting or missing out on something.
In that same vein, after several years of working your tail off for your degree in the same town you’ve been in for four-ish years, an entire day with no due dates or responsibilities probably sounds like heaven.
Views on this question across the political spectrum were rather consistent across the three schools. At each school, communists and socialists were the most likely to answer that they enjoyed spending a whole day doing nothing, with communist students regularly answering noticeably higher than students of other political affiliations. Democrats and independents followed up below them, and libertarians and republicans swapped between first and second-lowest per school.
While it’s interesting to see the trends of how different groups and demographics answer specific questions, it’s arguably more interesting to look at how an answer to one question can predict the answers to others.
Students that feel great about spending a whole day doing nothing tended to also say that they would go on a spontaneous trip even if that meant putting off their responsibilities and they’d feel okay if they spent their life doing good for others but did not receive recognition for it. As well, the better a student feels about their day off, the more okay on average they feel that their partner does softer drugs.
Likewise, students who feel “like a lard” after a whole day of lounging also reported that they do whatever it takes to get ahead and it’s important that they make more money than their peers. They also report being smarter than most people at their school.
Of course, every student is different, and each one approaches their course load with different perspectives on productivity, rest, and work ethic. Not every STEM student is anxious about a day off for fear of falling behind, and not every senior is struggling with staying focused. However you’d answer this question, remember that you deserve to put your health and well-being first. If you’re in dire need of a day off, don’t be afraid to treat yo’self.