I don’t like to think of myself as average. But when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a study showing a breakdown of how the average college student spends his/her weekdays, I decided to find out just how average I was.
For a week, I tracked my daily activities and compared them to the results provided in the study. Turns out, I am pretty average after all.
Sleeping — The study showed that the average college student gets 8.4 hours of sleep per day. I was shocked. I was sure that I got much less. However, I averaged 8.9 hours of sleep, slightly more than the average student in the study. This is probably because I tend to ignore my alarm clock. But this varies, of course. Writing this article, my brain was numb from six hours of sleep. But finding out that I normally get 8.9 hours makes me wonder why I usually feel tired. I have yet to discover the reason.
Educational activities — According to the study, students spend an average 3.6 hours per day on educational activities. I thought they must all be trading good grades for sleep. But I averaged 3.05 hours including the classes I had every Monday through Thursday. I discovered that I do most of my studying on the weekends and that average week happened to be light on the homework.
Leisure and sports — Leisure is not a waste of time. If I don’t relax a little every day, I know my mind will burn out. I usually write in my diary for about 30 minutes before I go to sleep, and I read too if I’m not too tired. And I always spend some time talking to my family. That week, I hung out with some classmates after class and cheered for NSU’s men’s soccer team. I averaged 1.7 hours of leisure a day while the average student averaged 3.5. The average college student may have educational activities and leisure almost perfectly balanced, but my average works for my schedule. As long as I balance school and leisure, I’m good.
Work and work-related — This is the area in which I’m slightly above average, and I’m proud of that. Some weeks, there was more work than others, and that week was especially hectic. Working overtime is mostly the norm, but unlike most people, I can say that the 5.75 hours I spent at work were worth it because I love my job, and it’s lots of fun. This might not be the case for most college students, who average 2.9 hours of work and work-related activities each day.
Traveling — It takes me 15 minutes to get to campus in the morning but 30 minutes to get home in the evenings since traffic is heavier. I gave a ride to some relatives that week, which increased the time I spent on the road. This is probably why my average was 1.11 hours a day instead of 45 minutes. If I had spent 1.11 hours of every weekday since September in my car and kept doing so until May, I would have spent about nine days out of the school year in my car. Now I know where my extra studying and leisure hours go. However, the average student spends 1.5 hours per day traveling, spending 12 days of the school year in a car. At least I have three more days.
Eating and drinking — The average college student spends 1 hour a day eating and drinking. I only counted the times that I sat down to only eat since I often eat and work or study at the same time. Turns out, I spent 0.3 less hours eating and drinking than the average college student.
Grooming — I guess I spend more time in the bathroom because I have to take time to put in my contact lenses. My showers tend to be 15 minutes long no matter how hard I try to hurry. I also have to do my hair and my makeup and accessorize. So while the average college student spends 0.8 hours grooming, I spend 1.3.
Other — For me, this includes running errands and doing activities that aren’t work or school related. That week, I had to deposit some money in the bank, stock up on groceries, and shop for a new computer with my family. Usually, every other day I make sure that my room is in order, and other days, I have to pack a lunch for the day. Over all, I spent 1.5 hours doing “other” things, which is less than the average college student who spends 2.4. It’s called upkeep and it’s necessary even if “other” doesn’t sound important. The next week, I cleaned my bathroom and went to the store to buy new makeup. The week after that, I probably had to sweep my room, organize my bookshelf and go to the bank again.
Looking back, I see how this experiment taught me that average doesn’t have to be boring. But I still find myself thinking that it’s sad that the word average exists. Average life for some is so varied, exciting and eclectic that the “other” category can range from skydiving to writing a novel to redecorating a dorm room.
The humdrum of everyday life should sound like a really good adventure movie: suspenseful, stimulating and exhilarating. Some things are bound to be routine like grooming, driving and, of course, sleeping. But it’s what you do with what’s left of your time that determines whether your life is average or amazing.