Webster’s defines “student” as “one who attends a school” and “one who studies.” The first version is a safer bet than the second, judging by the latest National Survey of Student Engagement. It queried first-year students and seniors at four-year colleges and universities. While students spend some time studying, other pastimes compete for their waking hours (see the chart). As the undergraduate cohort has grown beyond the usual right-out-of-high-school crowd, more students are responsible for children and other dependents. “A non-trivial fraction of seniors (about 19 percent) spend 11 or more hours per week caring for dependents.” Another part of the poll finds aesthetes are rarer than athletes. While 28 percent of first-years and 24 percent of seniors frequently attend art exhibits, plays, dance recitals and such, more than one-fourth never do so. By contrast, 56 percent of first-years and 50 percent of seniors frequently engage in physical-fitness activities, while fewer than one-fifth never do so.
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