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Understanding Engineering Freshman Study Habits: The Transition From High School To College

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

First-Year Advising and Transition

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1294.1 - 14.1294.14



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Paper Authors

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Mary Anderson-Rowland Arizona State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Understanding Engineering Freshman Study Habits: the Transition from High School to College Mary R. Anderson-Rowland Arizona State University


The transition from high school to college is traumatic for most students. For the first time, most freshman students are on their own and no one is watching to see that they attend class, do their assignments, get proper sleep, and eat healthy. Many freshmen college engineering students who did very well in high school may tend to believe that since they were successful in high school, they need little or no help in making it in college as an engineering major.

The author has surveyed freshmen for several years to learn that the average number of hours they studied a week outside of class during their last semester in high school was about two or three hours. Many engineering freshmen do not put in the time that they should be in learning their classes until they hit the first quizzes or a midterm and suddenly realize that they have a lot of learning to make up to be on top of the class material. Many students do not know how to learn material.

This paper will explore the transition from high school to college relative to the number of study hours a freshman engineering student devotes each week and the “solutions” that have been used to help with this problem through a literature search. The paper will discuss how much engineering students study their last year in high school, how much the students plan to “study” in college, and the reasons students will acknowledge a need to study more in college. A partial solution to poor study habits, the Guaranteed 4.0 Plan, will be discussed, as well as the excuses and rationalizations that students use for not following such a plan, and evaluations by engineering students who have adopted the 4.0 Plan.

I. Introduction

The transition from high school to college is the largest change that most people will ever make in their lives. The last year of high school for a student is usually the culmination of years living at “home” and all that implies. In general, shelter, clothes, food, transportation, and finances are provided. There may have been chores around the house as a contributing family member. There may have been rules about what and how much TV could be watched or how many hours could be spent on the computer. There were also guidelines as to how late the student could stay “out” especially on school nights. Eight hours of sleep were built into the schedule Sunday through Thursday. The 35-40 hours scheduled in school may well have included a “study hall” or “study hour” in which students could get most of any homework done that was not completed during the class hour. Also, during these 35-40 hours the student was with his/her “friends”, students that they may have gone to school with for 12 years.

Anderson-Rowland, M. (2009, June), Understanding Engineering Freshman Study Habits: The Transition From High School To College Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5756

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