A University Student’s Schedule… from 500 Years Ago

The dumbing down of the university education

As we at Intellectual Takeout have recently pointed out, today’s college students aren’t devoting very much time to studying.

The typical modern student spends less than 3 hours per day on education-related activities, i.e., attending class and studying.

Undoubtedly this phenomenon is in large part due to the swelled ranks of college students combined with a less rigorous curriculum. If you look back to 1961—shortly before the federal government broadened its offering of student loans—students spent an average of 24 hours per week studying in addition to their 15 hours of class.

And, as you might guess, if you look back even further you will find an even more rigorous course of study for college.

In his famous 1519 Compendium of the University of Paris, Robert Goulet (different than this one) offered the following recommended schedule for students at one of the most famous universities of the time:

  • Rise at 4 a.m.
  • Arts lecture at 5
  • Mass at 6, breakfast (“consisting of half a loaf of bread or of a small whole loaf”)
  • Classes from 8-10 (or 9-11 during Lent)
  • Formal debates before the noon meal
  • Repetitions (in which the students were quizzed on the previous lectures)
  • Lectures 3-5
  • Disputations 5-6 (basically, a class debate)
  • Repetitions after evening meal
  • Off to bed at 9 p.m.

This schedule roughly corresponds to one from the University of Leipzig in the same year, where students began the day with a lecture on metaphysics at 6 a.m. (!).

If fewer students were admitted to colleges today, do you think a more rigorous schedule of study would return?

This post A University Student’s Schedule… from 500 Years Ago was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Daniel Lattier.


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