What students do outside of the classroom affects their grades in more ways than one. A study from the University of Minnesota details the possible causes of negative affects on grades. These behaviors include lack of sleep and exercise, alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use and TV and computer screen time – all activities common with college students (researchers evaluated even more in the study). We may have assumed these activities harmed students’ academic performance, but now there’s research to prove it.
The report “Health and Academic Performance: Minnesota Undergraduate Students,” included randomly selected about 24,000 participants from 14 Minnesota colleges and universities. 9,931 of these students completed the 2007 College Student Health Survey Report, according to EurekAlert.
While 69.9 percent of students said they were stressed, 32.9 percent of those students said this stress affected their grades. The study supported their presumption – the average GPA for those who said stress affected their academic performance was 3.12, while the average GPA for the others was 3.23. A difference in GPA was even greater between those who didn’t get enough sleep and those who didn’t have sleep deficiencies – 3.08 and 3.27, respectively. Those who reported they did not engage in physical activity in the past seven days had lower mean GPA’s than those who did.
Also, as the number of days a student consumed alcohol in that past 30 days increased, GPA decreased. Likewise, smokers, even those who claim to be “social smokers” and smoke just once or twice a week, had a lower GPA than those who did not smoke in the past 30 days.
With new improvements in sites like Facebook and MySpace, students continue to spend more time on the computer. This screen time, along with watching the new 90210 and Grey’s Anatomy, may contribute to the 30.4 percent of students who said they spent excessive amounts of time in front of the TV or computer screen. 13 percent of those with this distraction said it affected their studies. In fact, these students whom it affected had a GPA of 3.04 compared to the mean of 3.27.
“Turning off the computer or TV and going to sleep is one of the best things our students can do to improve their grades,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the director and chief health officer of the University of Minnesota Boynton Health Service, told EurekAlert.
Ehlinger hopes the study will help students make better decisions in college and illustrate the value of their health, according to EurekAlert.
“College students are so important for our economic development — the development of our society,” Ehlinger told EurekAlert. “One way to protect that investment in our future is to help them stay healthy.”
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Mallory Creveling is a senior magazine journalism major with a minor in nutrition. Creveling, who was a fitness editorial intern at Shape magazine this past summer, plans to pursue a career in health journalism after graduation. She attributes her internship and writing and researching for on campus publications to her growing knowledge of where and how to research health topics more sufficiently. Creveling is also a senior editor for the print version of What the Health this semester. She will update her column every Thursday with health news alerts on new studies about issues affecting the U.S. population.