Are SJU Students Really the Least Studious in the Nation?



137,000 students at 382 schools featured in the Review's book were surveyed.

Suzanne Ciechalski, Editor-in-Chief

According to a recent survey by The Princeton Review, St. John’s students spend the least amount of hours studying outside the classroom. But according to the University, and an analysis by The Torch, the survey results are representative of a very small portion of students.

The survey was conducted as part of The Princeton Review’s “382 Best Colleges” launch, and SJU tops its list for the least studious students. But according to The Princeton Review, it only surveyed a combined 137,000 students among all 382 schools featured in its book. This means that an average of 359 students per school were surveyed — which is a mere fraction of the student body at St. John’s.

The University’s most recent factbook states that there were 20,881 total students enrolled at St. John’s during the 2015-16 school year. In a statement to The Torch, the University called the survey “statistically insignificant.”

“It is also important to note that rankings such as this one are increasingly subjective and speculative because of shifts in student survey response rates, metrics and participating schools,” the statement said.

The rankings of the most and least studious students were based off responses to the question “How many out-of-class hours do you spend studying each day?” according to the Princeton Review’s Director of Content.

On the survey, the question reads: “On a typical day, I study (not including classroom time).”

The answer choices are:

  •      Less than 1 hour
  •      2 hours
  •      3 hours
  •      4 hours
  •      5 or more hours

On its site, The Princeton Review notes that the rankings don’t reflect the company’s opinions or ratings of colleges. “A college’s appearance on a ranking list in the book is entirely the result of what its own students surveyed by The Princeton Review reported about their campus experiences as well as how they rated various aspects of their college life,” the site says.

The Princeton Review’s student survey of schools is ongoing, though they conduct an official survey of students at each school “at least once every three years.”

According to The Princeton Review site, they utilize the Likert scale to measure results.

“The five-point grid—which is called a Likert scale—is the most commonly used measurement for this type of survey research: consensus-based assessment,” their website says. “Statisticians consider it most accurate as it presents equal amounts of positive or negative positions.”

In its statement, the University told The Torch: “Ranking agencies also rely on proxies to provide an insight measurement on how best a school informs, inspires and challenges its students, thus creating inefficient results.” Thus, they said the results “cannot measure the essence of learning which is not merely about studying.”

The Princeton Review’s survey had more than 80 questions on it, including one about hours spent studying. Additionally, students were surveyed on other aspects of student life, such as: rating housing, drug and alcohol use, whether students have taken an online course, and plans post-graduation.

St. John’s also landed on The Princeton Review’s lists of  “Least Accessible Professors,”

Professors Get Low Marks,” “Got Milk?,”  and “Scotch and Soda, Hold The Scotch.”