Factors Affecting Academic Performance

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Economy Affects Students' Academic Performance as Well as Spending Decisions Some forgo buying books, survey finds; many seniors, especially in minority groups, chose majors based on job prospects By Libby Sander

Like many Americans caught up in the economic downturn, college students are worried about money. Now research indicates that financial worries may affect their academic performance.

This year's National Survey of Student Engagement, released on Thursday, reveals that more than a third of seniors and more than a quarter of freshmen did not purchase required academic materials because of the cost. Roughly equal shares, around 60 percent, said they worried about having enough money for day-to-day expenses. And 36 percent of freshmen and 32 percent of seniors reported that financial concerns had interfered with their academic performance.

Since 2000, Nessie, as the survey is known, has collected wide-ranging data to help colleges develop effective educational practices and promote engagement. Students are asked, for instance, how much time they spend studying, whether they get involved with campus organizations, and how they interact with their professors and peers.

This year the researchers, based at Indiana University at Bloomington, also assessed how the economy was affecting students at a subset of the 546 American colleges that participated.

The survey examined students' employment, finding that among freshmen, nearly 20 percent worked on campuses, and about 30 percent worked elsewhere. For seniors, those proportions were about a quarter on campuses and more than half elsewhere. Students working off campuses logged more hours: More than half of seniors working on campuses worked less than 15 hours a week, but 40 percent of full-time seniors in off-campus jobs worked more than 16 hours a week; 20 percent logged 30 or more hours.

Other research has found that working up to 20 hours a week can increase students' engagement and improve...
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