Are Gen Z’s Complaints About College Workloads Justified, or Are They Just “All Right”?

Currently, there are hundreds of different petitions on the Change.org website calling for the removal of professors from colleges and universities around the world. Some date back many years, and some are current, ranging in topics from instructors’ offbeat language and viewpoints to the lack of quality in their courses.

And there are dozens of others who are defending professors and asking for their reinstatement. Whoever received a measly 59 clicks – short of the 100 target – surrounds one of the biggest stories to hit higher education this year. When Maitland Jones, a longtime professor of organic chemistry at New York University, failed to have her contract renewed before the start of the academic year, it sparked a firestorm of debate. First reported by The New York Times, it was picked up by most media as it followed a petition filed by 82 of its 350 students who claimed that its course was too difficult and that it was inflexible. Jones had been at NYU for 15 years but had no tenure, so NYU did not have to renew his contract.

The case has fueled discussions on social media about the administration’s role in supporting professors, the lack of protection for professors like Jones, and whether this generation of students has become, say, a little soft by compared to their predecessors.

An agency that does a lot of quick surveys, Intelligent.com, recently posed a battery of questions to an audience of 1,000 four-year-old college students to get their thoughts on the rigors of the courses and their teachers. The results were eye-opening: 87% said teachers made classes too hard and 10% said they had actually complained about teachers for being too hard.

Do their cases have merit? In the same survey, 64% of respondents said they work very hard. However, they admit to devoting less than 10 hours per week to studies and homework. The resulting report from Intelligent posed the question that might be on the minds of Boomer, Gen X and Millennial graduates who have spent sleepless nights and long hours in libraries: “Students have they right? »

Consider these other survey results:

  • A quarter of respondents said they asked teachers to change their grade
  • Almost a third said they cheated to try to improve their grades
  • Only 23% of respondents said the current rating systems should be maintained. The others lean more or mainly towards success/failure.

On the issue of teachers being too demanding, a solid 66% of all students who felt overworked said that “teachers should have been ‘definitely’ or ‘maybe’ made the class easier.” Those who took courses in mathematics and science, and to some extent foreign languages ​​and history, were more convinced of this than others.


More from UB: Reaching Gen Z: Steps Colleges Can Take to Make Sure They’re Interested


While it can be difficult to draw conclusions from the results of just one survey, Gen Z faces very different pressures than Baby Boomers faced when they were attending college. One of the most pervasive is the number of current students who have to work longer hours or take care of their families while in college. In turn, they may not have the luxury of all that “free time” like the previous generation. There may also be other factors at play, in their reasoning behind calling the professors.

“Gen Z has less resilience than other generations,” said Michael Katz, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley who teaches a course on Gen Z psychology and values. professors make their classes more difficult and more than students feel more anxious and overwhelmed when they do less well than they expected. This puts them in a “fight or flight” state, and often they fight to get grades changed or to discipline faculty members. »

It is unclear whether professors such as Jones will face more scrutiny, although institutions are clearly watching, particularly those intending to maintain high enrollments, to ensure that students are selected and carry them out.

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