College Media Story Ideas: Do Early Classes Equal Higher Grades?

As students make their final course selections for spring, one schedule tidbit they should keep in mind: To boost your GPA, an 8 a.m. class might be worth waking up for.

A study released earlier this semester confirms that college students enrolled in early classes earn higher grades.  The researchers– a pair of psychology professors at New York’s St. Lawrence University– literally found a slight drop in student grade point averages for each hour a class starts later.

Specifically, the study’s co-author Pamela Thacher told The New York Times, “For every hour of class that you have later, you get about a .02 difference, so three hours of difference between class start times will result in a .06 difference in grades.”

The numbers push for a reversal of the “dreaded 8 a.m. class” stereotype, built atop the image of bleary-eyed undergrads who would rather be anywhere else.  They also argue for a striking turnabout on the traditional thinking that late afternoon or evening classes allow for more sleep and, in turn, more engaged students.

Instead, according to the study, a morning class can often be the catalyst for students to get to sleep earlier, complete work more efficiently, and, most importantly, stay sober– all of which help their grades.

In a review of the findingsThe Diamondback at the University of Maryland, explained, “[S]tudents who need to wake up earlier for class tend to maintain a more practical daily routine and sleeping patterns while avoiding late-night activities. . . . On the flip side, students who take classes later in the afternoon or evening tended to go to more parties and consume more alcohol during the week, translating into less sleep and lower grades.”

Apparently, alcohol use is by far the most grade-debilitating behavior of student night owls.  “The real piece that we found is that those who are up later are drinking more and discovering their inner demons,” said Thacher in a Reuters report.

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