TIME LOSS, Part 5: Work kills time and encourages phony time estimates.


Here’s a list of the previous four posts and links.

How we fool ourselves by believing false time “estimates.”
The evil ETA system costs us time and money!
8 ways Colleges lie about instructional time.
Housekeeping kills time and fosters false expectations!

Phony ETAs cause stress.


Part 5:  Work kills time and encourages phony time estimates.

In the preceding four articles we have been examining how we get fooled–and how we fool ourselves–by believing what people tell us about how long it will take to do a thing, or get anywhere or deliver anything.

We have all taken time off work to have someone fix an appliance.

They give us an ETA (“He’ll be there between 10 and noon.”) and the guy is four hours late or he doesn’t come at all.

And we’ve all heard “the car’ll  be ready at 5” line, or “the doctor will be with you in a minute. “

(Unless you die first.)

But the fault, dear Brutus, lies also within ourselves because we want to believe these products and service providers.


In the last two articles I’ve been showing how college calendars lie, obfuscate, dissimulate and deliberately mislead re instruction times.

Our time is valuable; we never have enough of it. We delude ourselves into thinking what can’t possibly work, will always work!


Today, I’m writing about how students jeopardize their college grades (and their year) by working too much at part-time or full time jobs outside of class.

Most college students work part-time. Many students work more than 20 hours per week. (Some work 30-40 hours per week!)

Student at work

I am not arguing  against that. Most students have to work to help pay for their education but it is often counterproductive.

(The literature suggests that more than 12 hours of work while going to school can have a negative effect on grades, even for A and B average students, but never mind).

If you work 20 hours a week, you are going to spend more time at your place of work in one week than you spend in the classroom on this subject for the whole semester!

That’s because, as you’ll see in an earlier article in this series,  ( 8 ways Colleges lie about instructional time.) that the college calendar’s promise of 45 or 42 hours per course in a semester is simply wrong; it’s closer to 20-22 hours. That’s an enormous difference.

That lost instructional time means stress, disappointment and a loss of money (fail and you must retake the subject or the term).

But students, especially first-year students, take NONE of this into account.

They never think twice about it. It gives them a false sense of security.

The course doesn’t feel like 45 hours to them.

(Well, yeah, because it’s closer to 20!)

By the middle of term, most students attribute their lack of time to–well,  just a lack of time! By then it’s too late to recover.

Moreover, it’s not just the 25 hours additional class they thought they had in THIS subject, but it is multiplied by the five subjects most students carry in college. That’s a total of 125 hours lost over the semester.

It’s three weeks of class time they THOUGHT THEY HAD that isn’t actually there! Students get frustrated, discouraged and drop out.

If they fail a couple of subjects, they join the almost 50% of students in college in North America who don’t pass their first term.

That’s a high price to pay for not governing your time well. They, and/or their parents, have lost all the tuition money ($5,000 – $50,000). and four months of their lives.

(It’s an example of how false hopes driven by wrong time estimates are causing us a lot of trouble.

And the students lose confidence and self-respect.

Costly? You bet.

Any way you want to look at it, wrong time estimates are robbing us.

And the worst thing about this is that is is based on some false assumptions, promises or expectations.


  • The first false assumption is that working 20 hours a week is not going to hurt my chances of getting good grades in college.

 The evidence is clearly against that.

Grades drop precipitously if a student works more than 12 hours a week. And that’s for A and B students.

C and D students haven’t got a prayer if they work 12 hours a week.

Is this an absolute rule? No. I have seen some students work a full 40 hour a week and still get good grades.

But these are well-prepared, mature, excellent students to start with. They are literate and numerate and know how to analyze material, write essays and reports and conduct research and they have a good grasp of study skills. They are also disciplined and are highly motivated.

Most college students don’t have anything near those resources. Most are ill-prepared for college academically and personally. Many do not even know why they are taking a particular program or course of study.


They lack self-knowledge and, frankly, they’re not going to get anywhere in or out of college without it.

But in this instance they lack an appreciation of their own academic abilities or lack thereof and they fail to understand that the time they should be working on their class work should not be spent working in retail.

They are taking necessary hours from their education and spending it foolishly on low-paid work.

 But they need money for school, I can hear you say.

True, but they are going about it the wrong way.

They should get a job for a semester or a year, save money, increase their study skills, find the right program for themselves (not one suggested by trends or their friends or family members) and then go to college.

They are doing it back-asswards and they haven’t the academic or personal skills to succeed. But they fool themselves into thinking that “It’s only 10 hours or 20 hours (!) a week I’ll be working.”

They don’t see the big picture.


  • They fail to recognize their academic weakness will be tied to long hours of work.
  • The work will cause them fatigue and they won’t be able to concentrate after work
  • They donlt consider the travel time to get to and from work.
  • They fail to consider the frequent times they’ll be called in to work because someone else has failed to show up.

When they DO turn to their books they will not have the energy to study. They’ll watch Tv or go online or do a dozen other time-wasteful things instead.

They’ll also convince themselves that they have “worked” enough this week (not at school but at work) and so they are tired and deserve some fun and so time is spent on fun.

  • Another assumption, as I’ve suggested, is that they are perfectly capable of handling all this. Wrong
  • Another wrong assumption is that that will be able to limit their hours to 10 or whatever. Wrong. (See above.)
  • Another wrong assumption is that they can pull all-nighters and catch up. Wrong again. They don’t have the academic capacity, experience or discipline to do that.

They will fail.

A lack of understanding of themselves and buying into false time estimates will doom them. They will fall victim to a lack of understanding of how poor time estimates can sabotage good intentions.


Time problems and how to solve them(PART 1)

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