Consider changing course loads

By Joseph Nichols, Staff Writer

As we pass the midpoint of the semester, classes can feel like they are all-consuming and there is no escape from the seemingly endless amount of work. Whether it be studying, writing essays, researching or simply doing assignments, it can be easy to feel as if there is too much work being assigned. 

I wondered if there was a regulation on the amount of work a professor can assign, and in fact, there is one on the Xavier registrar’s website. According to university policy, 300 minutes of independent study is paired with 150 minutes of class instruction for a three-credit hour class.  Five hours of homework per class each week seems more than reasonable, and as an active member on campus taking eighteen credit hours, five hours of independent work per class throughout the week, would be ideal.   

The caveat to this policy is that 300 minutes of independent study is meant to not just include short-term weekly assignments, but also long-term studying, essays or projects.  

However, it has been my personal experience that professors strive to assign 300 minutes of classwork with the assumption that students will make time for long-term independent study. Although this can be excusable for isolated incidents and only occurs once or twice per semester, I am concerned more with professors that assign more chronically than the university policy.   

According to university policy, lab-centered classes have “limited/variable” listed under weekly independent study, yet it lists 2.5 hours of work a week for only one credit at the end of the semester.  Not only do lab classes’ weekly workload not reflect the credits received, but more often than not, labs have the most intensive workload of all classes. Other similar classes such as those in the arts have a workload that does not indicate the level of time and effort that students put forth. 

When professors assign more than five hours of work per work, especially when it’s more than five hours of assignments alone, it forces students to prioritize one class over another. Professors might not realize the burden of assigning just a couple extra hours of work a week, yet that burden exists. 

Cura Personalis, meaning care for the whole person, is one of the core Jesuit values stressed to first years during Manresa and GOA. In an ever-changing world, one constant has to be our well being. Our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual well being are all aspects that make up who we are as a person. 

When a professor assigns more work than policy, they place students in a position to not only sacrifice time spent for other classes, but to surrender time spent on their well being. A professor not factoring in less weekly work when assigning an essay or research assignment might result in a student not being able to make a trip to a group fitness class or attending Sunday mass, negatively affecting their well being. Professors working students more than policy allows can also lead to decreased sleep which can negatively affect all aspects of a person’s well being. One’s physical, mental and emotional health are all negatively affected. 

University policy is policy for a reason. Although a professor is recommended to assign five hours of independent study for a three credit hour class, professors often require students to put more work into their class.  When a professor assigns more than they have the right to, it disrespects the time of students, and negatively affects their well being.  I would implore both students and professors to read the credit-hour policy carefully, and students to communicate with your professor or advisor if your professor is assigning more than university policy.