Study suggests WFU students work hard

Wake Forest students are known for their word hard, play hard mentality, indicative of a filled library on weekdays and filled fraternity basements on the weekends.

However, a recent study suggests that Wake Forest students work harder than they play.

The company, Niche, conducted research on the top 50 universities with the hardest working students. Wake Forest University was ranked 30th.

Niche’s rankings were based on criteria such as study habits, office hours, homework and class attendance.

These aspects factor into broader research regarding academic rigor and student workload. Each of these facets weighed equally on Niche’s 100-point scale.

With a ranking of 30, Wake Forest scored 92.7 on the 100-point scale.

These numbers place Wake Forest higher than other universities including Dartmouth, Duke and Georgetown. Wake Forest trails directly behind University of Pennsylvania, which ranked 29th and had a 92.8 score.

“Honestly, I’m kind of surprised we are not higher up on the list,” said freshman Caroline Friezo. “Everyone I know and have met seem very dedicated and serious about their school work.”

Friezo, like many Wake Forest students, recognizes students’ dedication to their academics. The academic culture revolves around professors challenging their students and students rising to the challenge.

“Professors expect a lot from us and it’s hard not to work hard,” Friezo said. “I think school is definitely the top priority of the majority of Wake students.”

Sophomore Alex Ziomek also agrees that professors often push students to do their best.

“There are no ‘Easy A’ classes here,” Ziomek said. “Every class is meant to challenge you. There’s a reason they call it Work Forest.”

It is not only students who acknowledge the academically rigorous environment at Wake Forest, but also the faculty and administration.

“I do think a lot of students work hard,” said Christy Buchanan, Dean of Academic Advising. “In my experience as a faculty member, most students attend classes and put forth the effort to do well in classes.”

Buchanan provides support to Friezo and Ziomek’s opinions: that the university is deserving of this ranking.

“WFU students spend about 30 hours per week in class or doing academic work,” Buchanan said.

She, along with other faculty and administrators, believed 30 hours was a reasonable amount of time for students to be doing school work. But it’s important to note that beyond these 30 hours, many students are involved in multiple activities on and off campus — all of which take immense amount of time. This involvement is what contributes to a well-rounded student.

These characteristics and opinions are not represented in the results of Forbes’ annual college ranking where in 2015, Wake Forest was ranked 59th, Dartmouth 14th, Duke 22nd, Georgetown 23rd and UPenn as 12th.

As stated, Niche concentrated its research on the academic culture and students of the university.

Forbes journalist Caroline Howard states Forbes rankings depend on student satisfaction, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rate and academic success. Therefore, the difference in rankings is a result of the variables studied.

Niche focused specifically on the academic culture while Forbes concentrated on broader research.

However, some believe that though it’s good to learn to work hard, the work itself should be meaningful.

“In general, I don’t mind the term ‘Work Forest,’” said Al Rives, an associate teaching professor. “My gut-level response is, ‘what do we need to do to move up in the rankings?’ Being able to work hard is a valuable skill.  But these comments need to be tempered by the assertion that the work should be valuable.”

In addition to having the work be meaningful, students also voiced concerns about the stigmas that rankings can often create — especially when there are so many variables involved.

“I think that it’s difficult to give a number to schools when there are so many factors that go into the equation,” said freshman Katy Kneisel.