How Much Free Time Do You Have in College? More Than You Think

Some students believe that being in college will keep them from attaining balance in their lives, which is why they opt for the easiest degree programs. Unfortunately, after graduating, they may have the hardest time finding jobs.

The amount of free time college students have will depend on the number of credits a program requires. Ideally, students should spend two to three hours on their studies per credit hour. Since most full-time students take 12 credits, they are expected to spend 24-30 hours a week studying.

Don’t hesitate to send applications to colleges and universities just because you fear you will have no more time left to relax and partake in your leisure pursuits while earning a degree.

Below, you will learn how much time you will have to spend on studying, thus allowing you to realize that college students still have time for both work and play.

How Much Time Should be Spent on Studying?

Students completing a bachelor’s degree should spend 240 to 360 hours studying from the time they enter college to the time they get their diplomas. On the other hand, students earning an associate and a master’s degree should spend 120 to 180 hours and 60 to 120 hours on studying, respectively.

The rules on how many hours you should spend on every credit tend to vary. Leading the pack is the two-hour rule that many college professors highly suggest — one hour in the classroom and the other hour at home doing homework. Some experts recommend devoting two to three hours to every credit.

If you are trying to earn a bachelor’s degree, this is how much time you should spend on studying:

Per class36 to 9
Per semester1530 to 45
Per year3060 to 80
Per degree120240 to 360

The hours you need to spend per class, semester, and so on are considered ideal. Keep in mind that the actual number of hours one has to spend on studying is on a case-to-case basis.

Do you want to keep your grades high because you know for a fact that getting bad grades can cause you to lose your financial aid?

Then it’s a good idea to spend a little more time studying if you don’t want to risk it. The same is true if you want to have a brighter future. Just check out these things that a Forbes article says:

  • 73% of employers screen job candidates by their GPAs.
  • Most industries have a GPA cut off — at least a B average is a must for your resume to be considered.
  • Top students tend to have higher earnings faster than those with low grades.

Modern-day technology has made studying so much easier for college students.

For instance, the internet makes it trouble-free for them to find what they are looking for exactly — Google can help you find what happened to a particular person during a specific time in history so much faster than flipping through the pages of a textbook.

Similarly, computers make writing, editing, and revising essays, reports, and dissertations simpler and easier.

Refrain from assuming that you no longer have to follow the two-hour rule because the internet and other technologies can facilitate college.

On the contrary, it’s of utmost importance to stick to the rule now more than ever as there are also many distractions everywhere, usually courtesy of the internet and various gadgets themselves.

How Do College Students Spend Their Time?

On an average weekday, college students spend the majority of their time sleeping. They spend three and a half to four hours studying and engaging in leisure pursuits. How college students spend their time on a weekday will depend on the demands of their activities inside and outside the campus.

There are many reasons why a lot of students fear going to college. One of those is not having any remaining time for partaking in anything besides school-related tasks.

Image credit: Canva

Various online articles on traits or qualities of successful college students share one thing in common: time management. It’s true that getting your hands on a college degree can be hectic and stressful. However, by managing your time well, you can experience a college life that’s less frantic.

Let’s take a look at how full-time college students spend their weekdays on average, according to 2016 data provided by the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS):

Leisure and sports4
Educational activities3.5
Working and related activities2.3
Eating and drinking1
How much time do students spend a day

With so many things to do on a daily basis, college students are some of the busiest bees on the face of the planet! It’s exactly because of this why having free time may be hard to come by.

Here are some of the most recommended things you can do in your free time in college:

  • Sleep. It’s not uncommon for college students to be sleep-deprived. The reasons for not getting enough shut-eye vary from one student to the next. Some pull an all-nighter to finish a project or review for an exam. Others hop from party to party. No matter the case, it’s a good idea to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
  • Study. Speaking of partying, students who spend most of their free time glugging bottles of beer should give reading books a try instead. However, balance is vital. If you feel that you are doing a great job in the classroom, consider spending some of your free time as far away as possible from school-related pursuits.
  • Work out. Earning a college degree can cause lots of stress. Having high levels of stress incessantly is a complete no-no as it can wreak havoc on one’s mental and physical health. A great way to manage stress is by working out. It will also help strengthen your immunity, keeping infections from getting in the way of your college.
  • Go outside. Are you an out-of-state student, and have you been living in your hometown all your life? Then head out and explore the world outside your dorm and campus. You might even fall in love with the people, culture and surroundings, causing you to consider getting employed or setting up a business there after graduating.
  • Partake in hobbies. It’s also during your free time in college when you may follow up with your hobbies, some or all of which many full-time students abandon. Besides, according to experts, hobbies in college are just as important as classes as they help clear the mind, develop skills and even generate income.


The amount of free time you have in college will depend on various factors, first and foremost the number of credits your degree program requires. And every credit requires you to spend two to three hours on studying if you want to get your hands on your diploma on time and avoid getting low grades that can make your transcript look terrible.

Managing your time wisely can give you more well-balanced college life.

Above, we talked about how much time you should give to every credit hour you need to complete in order to graduate.

The figures you came across are what professors and experts recommend — it’s still a good idea to figure out what works best for you according to your degree program, lifestyle, and the kind of learner you are.

Related Questions

Is it okay for students to work while attending college?

Besides money, students can also gain knowledge and skills from working while in college, which they can use before and after graduating. However, some college students feel that working can distract them from their studies, thus keeping them from fully gearing up for their future careers.

How much work is too much for working college students?

According to the University of Washington, the University of Virginia, and Temple University researchers, working more than 20 hours a week during the academic year can cause behavioral and academic problems, resulting in lack of sleep, low grades, and dropping out of college.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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