Students Work Too Hard (was Re: students)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Thu Feb 11 21:53:59 PST 1999

Carrol replied to me:
>> P.S. I think that too many students (have to) work (for pay, in retail,
>> fast food, etc.) too many hours. This _overwork_, I believe, is the root
>> evil, but I as an individual can't remedy it in class.
>As late as the 1950s it was a commonplace that working interfered with a
>college education (there had always been chatter about the glories of hard
>work, but the more rational persuasion prevailed). The overwhelming number of
>students at ISU not only work but work rather long hours.

Something I cannot understand is this: _all_ my students (not just those who say that they are paying their own way but also those who appear to be from rather well-off families who could allow them to live without paid employment) work. I really hate it when a student calls me at home and says that s/he can't make it to my evening class because his/her boss asked him/her to do overtime or go to a meeting or whatever! And the work they do isn't even remotely the kind that those allegedly career-conscious students might feel proud of having on their resumes. I'm astonished by their steely work ethic when it comes to pushing paper, selling jeans, busing the dishes, and so on. This ought to be stopped (for this college student labor must be depressing wages at the low end of the job market, not to mention bad effects on learning & campus activism), but again I don't know how we go about changing this. This isn't even recognized as a problem, more often than not.

Anyway, despite what lots of American profs (and nowadays I myself) say about American students, it continues to amaze me that students here seem to work so damn hard, on and off campus--reading, going to labs, churning out papers, working low-wage jobs (for typically 15-20 hours per week!), socializing, maintaining families--and on top of all these tough ongoing commitments, some of them even manage to put in some activist stuff. When I was an undergrad in Japan, I hardly attended any classes, except for the seminars given by professors I liked, and I probably wrote only four or five (very short) papers in my entire undergrad career. I had no lab work to do either.

>Mike, retirement is probably the best route. I should have retired several
>years before I did. In the past I usually only lost half the fall semester to
>depression, but finally I began crashing about the 6th week of every semester.

Except that if Mike retires, Pitt might not replace his position by one with the same working conditions. They may simply hire a younger & cheaper person on the non-tenure-track basis. Besides, they are not likely to hire a left-winger to replace a retiring left-winger. So I say, hang in there, Prof. Yates!

>The first 6 weeks were always fun, though, and I miss them.

You have me as your student, and a good thing is that you don't have to grade anything I write.


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