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EDITORIAL: Increase in academic surveys necessary

Student feedback important for academic, mental health

College students often find themselves overwhelmed not solely from schoolwork, but other responsibilities such as working, maintaining a healthy social life, commuting and maintaining their living space.

This stress is intensified among students who feel compelled to achieve highly, defined in a study by the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) — students with a grade point average (GPA) above a 3.4 on a 4-point scale. 

NSCS released a survey detailing its results, and the findings are concerning, though perhaps not surprising among those within the “high achieving” classification. 

“The survey found that 91% of these students have felt overwhelmed by the number of responsibilities they have, and two-thirds of the respondents felt the need to seek out mental health services in the last year,” according to The Daily Targum.

College, for many, is a time of transition between the carefree time of adolescence and high school, to the more demanding, independent rigors of life. Students are only just beginning to get a taste of what the real world looks like, and for many, the transition does not go as smoothly as their own internalized expectations would wish. 

Even among those who are not high achieving, these stresses can very well still manifest themselves, especially for those who believe they are underperforming compared to their potential. 

In comparison to typical adult life, college students have much more to balance. While the financial struggles of adulthood are more imposing than those placed on many college students, who may have parents involved with their finances, the day-to-day obligations students face are more variable and wide-ranging.

For instance, a typical adult member of the workforce will go to their job for the majority of their waking day, doing the same tasks over and over until they head home. They have a stable, consistent schedule, with stable, consistent responsibilities.

Students, on the other hand, have to deal with class schedules that change each day, each semester and each year. They may work a new job each semester, and their extracurriculars and living situations interchange just as much. There is no consistency, and in the case of many classes, there is often little downtime, with assignments due over the supposedly leisurely weekend.

The unfortunate aspect of this predicament is how much of our classwork is completely unnecessary. 

Professors seem to conflate workload with difficulty and education. In many advanced courses, the difficulty remains fairly consistent with their regular-level counterparts. The only difference? The course work is amplified in amount, often unnecessarily weighing on students with no added impact, aside from strained eyes and cramped fingers.

Surfing through busy work does not make a student more knowledgeable in a subject, and a good amount of assignments in many classes are just that: busy work. Does a student really have to churn through old documents for a citation easily accessible online? Do they really need to panic once realizing that the margins of their paper may have been off by a quarter-inch? 

Further fueling this is the fact that there seems to be a lack of understanding of mental health within the Rutgers faculty, imposing rigid restrictions in even the most desperate of personal circumstances. 

On the flip-side, there is also a portion of well-meaning, grounded professors who respond to their students' feedback, and adapt the course to optimize education and mental health, which both feed into each other. 

All professors should utilize the tactics used by the ones that ask for and respond to student feedback. It should not be only a small portion of professors who do this.

At the end of each semester, students are nearly always asked to provide feedback about their professor and course via a digital survey. While it is a proactive gesture by Rutgers University, the whole thing becomes moot when only distributed at the end of the semester. After all, students are about to leave the course, so any feedback they provide will not be applied until they move on.

The solution? Those same exact surveys becoming mandatory during shorter intervals. Instead of only opening them late in the semester, professors should be mandated to send them at the quarterly points of each semester, so they can adjust their teaching styles to meet the needs of each individual class. 

It is a simple fix, and one the University should implement immediately. 



The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority   of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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