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Freshmen called lax at books
By Steve Giegerich, Associated Press, 1/28/2003

NEW YORK - Although American freshmen arrived at college last fall with the worst study habits in 15 years, it didn't hurt their high school grade-point averages, according to an annual study based on a survey of the first-year students.

The study, released yesterday, found only 33.4 percent of college freshmen reported spending six hours per week or more studying or doing homework during their senior year in high school. It was the lowest percentage since the survey question was first posed by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California/Los Angeles in 1987.

Still, more than 45 percent of freshmen said they managed to graduate high school with an ''A'' average. Alexander Astin, who started the survey in 1966, attributed the high grade-point averages to a single factor.

''The best interpretation we can make is that grade inflation has been increasing because of all the pressure on teachers from students and parents to help them become more competitive for college,'' said Astin.

''Each year we think it can't inflate anymore. And then it does again. The C-grade is almost a thing of the past.'' Last year, 44.1 percent of respondents reported carrying an ''A'' average in high school.

Freshman Abby Shutter learned almost immediately that her relatively lax high school study habits wouldn't cut it at the University of Delaware.

''I took a lot of [advanced placement] courses in high school and I thought I was prepared for college. I didn't know how difficult it was going to be,'' she said. ''Not only do you have to focus on the tests, but every project is more important than high school.''

The number of ''distractions'' - such as parties - in college makes hitting the books even more difficult, Shutter said.

According to the survey, however, Shutter's class doesn't drink nearly as much as its predecessors.

The study said an all-time low of 46.5 percent of freshmen - compared with a high of 73.7 percent in 1982 - reported drinking beer either frequently or occasionally over the past 12 months. Furthermore, 35.8 percent of freshmen said they don't attend a single party during a typical week.

This story ran on page A4 of the Boston Globe on 1/28/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

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