"Don't Smoke, Don't Drink, and Be Home By 11"

Researchers put students' bad behaviors to the test

GPA

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Mom always knows best, and now there's scientific research to back her up. A recent study at the University of Minnesota show a direct correlation between certain negative behaviors--such as excessive drinking, stress, and gambling--and grade point averages. And, you guessed it, those with the highest grade point averages tended not to be those students coming off of all night benders.

Nearly 10,000 Minnesota college students reported for the study, which named stress, excessive screen time, binge drinking, and gambling as some of the biggest negativeinfluencers on GPA. Overall, about 70 percent of subjects named stress as an issue in their lives, but for most, their GPA was unaffected. However, about one-third of the group registered a score of eight or higher on a scale of emotional stress (examples include failing a class, having credit card debt, and parental conflict) and that subset had an average GPA of 2.72. Those who were less tense had an average GPA of 3.3. With some arguing that pressure on students is higher today than in previous generations, identifying stress as a variable is important. Researchers hope that if colleges realize how much stress negatively impacts student performance, they will provide more and better resources to help students combat it. The key, researchers say, is to realize that stress can't be eliminated, but it can be managed.

Even if you are the most carefree student on campus, there is a good chance that if you are drinking too much or logging too many hours in front of the plasma TV, your grades will show it. Those who binge drank on at least one occasion within a two week span set an average GPA of 2.99, while those who were on the wagon had an average GPA of 3.31. Likewise for those who sit in front of the boob tube: four plus hours of television or video gaming per day led to an average GPA of 3.04 or less, but less than an hour a day and you are looking at the Dean's List: a 3.3 GPA or better.

According to the study, your time would be better spent working. Students with jobs reported no drop in GPA, whether they were working one hour per week or forty. Researchers suggest that this is because those who are forced to balance a job with their studies have better time management skills than those who are trying to balance, say, the fourth season of Lost with multi-variable calculus. Katherine Lust, a primary survey coordinator, says, "I think sometimes when we're engaged in more things like work or extracurricular activities, that in fact when we sit down to do something, we are very focused and we use our time very well."

Ed Ehlinger, director of the University of Minnesota's Boynton Health Service and lead researcher on the study says: "The message is that there are simple things — not necessarily easy things, but simple things — that you could do to positively impact your GPA, like turning off the computer and getting to bed. We all know these things, but when you see them linked directly to GPA, it may be just the impetus to push them toward a change in behavior."

Oh, and for all the night owls out there, we're sorry. Students who reported getting less sleep and thought the issue was affecting their academics (20%), had an average GPA of 3.08. Those who are getting the proper amount of zzzz's had an average GPA of 3.27. Turns out mom was right about that curfew after all.