Hard work is something that we are told to do since birth. Family, school, books, and even sometimes society and media constantly drive the idea that hard work leads to success in life.
And yet, one finds that a hard-working nature is not as common a quality as one would think, considering how much of a mantra it is for society. A study done by The Heritage Foundation revealed that full-time college students in the United States on average spent 2.76 hours per day on schoolwork. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in 2017 found that first-year college students spent an average of 14.8 hours per week studying. This figure includes both class time as well as time spent by the student on homework, readings, preparing for tests, et cetera.
Considering that studying is considered to be the main occupation of a full-time student, 2.76 hours is quite frankly a pitiful amount of time. It truly does not reflect the level of investment someone should be making to such a commitment as an undergraduate degree.
The theory that these students have other commitments, such as paid jobs, does not hold water. The Heritage Foundation Survey also found that students worked for pay about 16.3 hours per week for a total of 35.6 hours per week on education and job(s), and the NSSE data confirmed that figure to within a 10% error margin. Both these figures are well under the 40 hours per week standard set by workforce norms.
The simple fact, then, is that college students in America are not working hard enough.
The general first-year college students’ population’s loss, however, is your gain. Given that your peers are putting in a generally low amount of time into their responsibilities as a college student, you have the ability to rise up above the peers and distinguish yourself by investing just a few more hours of hard work per week.
The 10,000 Hours Theory
To illustrate the importance and value of hard work, one only needs to look to the ‘10,000 Hour Rule’. In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell derived the theory that ten thousand hours of practice is the principle ingredient to becoming world-class at anything, whether that be a sport, music, or any other skill that requires practice for mastery.
Gladwell based his principle on various musicians, athletes, and noteworthy academics he interviewed, who all related that they began to achieve their maximum potential after putting in ten thousand hours of work.
I have seen the value of the basic principle ten thousand hour rule in my own life in the sport that I played: boxing. I started the sport at a late age, when I began high school. However, I trained 5-6 hours per day, every day of the week except Sunday. Given that I took only a couple weeks off a year, that adds up to over a thousand hours a year.
Three years in, I won my first title at the first state championships that I participated in, went to nationals, and was also offered professional contracts. Even though I didn’t hit the 10,000 hour landmark, my success in the sport was directly proportional to the significant amount of hard work I poured in.