Photo by Alberto Alonso Pujazon Bogani/PSU Vanguard

Assignment overload

Students have lives beyond homework

University students are often forced to juggle multiple responsibilities at once: school, work, sleep and self-care, to name a few. With so many duties piling up on their schedules, it can be near-impossible for students to keep up their grades while maintaining a job, a social life and their own wellbeing. It’s situations like this that make one think that professors at Portland State, as well as at other universities, should have more flexible policies on assignment deadlines in order to account for this reality.


Yes, juggling school and life responsibilities is part of being a college student. But with the pressure of assignment deadlines, many students are not able to put in time to relax, which is vitally important for their long-term health. If students are not able to turn their brains off every so often, their education will suffer and the homework that professors assign may end up doing more harm than good.


Education scholar Denise Pope, Ph.D., found that “students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance and even alienation from society,” according to a 2014 article from Stanford News. “More than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive,” Dr. Pope found. According to a study Dr. Pope co-authored in the Journal of Experimental Education, 56% of students surveyed considered homework a “primary source of stress,” and many said that homework pressure contributed to long-term health problems like sleep deprivation, headaches and exhaustion. Perhaps the most concerning finding is that students in high-homework environments were “more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.”


Additionally, many students have jobs in order to pay for college in the first place. Researchers from HSBC, a bank and financial services company, found that 85% of college students in the United States work paid jobs, 57% of students work out of financial necessity and 37% of students search for jobs to improve their chances in the post-college job market, as Kalysa To of The Daily Bruin reported. “The study also found students spend about 4.2 hours a day working on average, compared to 2.3 hours a day in class, 2.8 hours studying at home and 1.5 hours visiting the library,” To wrote.


Every student also has the need to partake in self-care. “In a society in which people are expected to work long hours and pass on vacation days,” we have a societal tendency to devalue self-care, reported Matthew Glowiak, Ph.D., for the Southern New Hampshire University newsroom. In our culture, he wrote, “there is an underlying belief that we must always be productive—which can ultimately take away from opportunities for self-care. But by taking some time out to engage in self-care, you may relieve the pressures of everyday life and reset yourself to get back to a healthy point where productivity is once again maximized.” Crucially, Dr. Glowiak wrote, “the single most common reason people give for not participating in self-care is due to a lack of time.”


For all these reasons, professors should give students more time to complete assignments, or perhaps assign less work overall. If students had more time to finish their homework—and if professors had a more lenient due date policy that gave more consideration to students’ work schedules, social lives and stress levels—then incidents of burnout would likely decrease, and students would likely have a healthier level of school-related stress to handle.


After all, professors have the ability to give more time on assignments—they should think about assignments from the students’ point of view and be a little more lenient. Professors should work with their students to find an amount of homework for students with jobs, social lives and other classes that can be finished in a reasonable amount of time in order to sustain a healthy school-work-life balance.