Factors Influencing Lower College Grades

Bert Maxwell's picture

While some students put their whole being into their studies, trying to write term papers or a thesis, make the most of their time to meet assignments deadlines, and perform their responsibilities as college club members, others may seek for the stuff to “brighten up” their life and relax. There is nothing wrong with enjoying your life and having a break from constant learning. However, it is important to understand that some things are incompatible with studying.

Factors Influencing Lower College Grades

According to national Monitoring the Future study, marijuana use among college students is on the rise:

*  In 2015, 38 percent of college students indicated that they had smoked marijuana in the prior year, and up 8 percent from 2006.
*  4.6 percent smoked on a regular basis, up from 3.5% in 2007.

The increase may be explained by the legislation of recreational marijuana in California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. Scientists and public health experts have no clear answers on how weed is affecting our society, mainly because they don't have enough information yet. But it may be argued that marijuana use, especially combined with alcohol, poses real academic risks to college students.

A new study out of Yale University followed grade point averages (GPAs) for 1,100 students in Connecticut who used different amounts of booze and pot.

College GPAs of students were:

*  3.10 – those who drank little or no alcohol and smoked little or no marijuana;
*  3.03 – those who drank moderately or heavily but used marijuana occasionally;
*  2.66 – those who used both substances moderately or heavily.

So, what causes a GPA decline?

1) Time dedicated to drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana with friends is the time you cannot spend studying. Weak knowledge means a low grade.
2) Marijuana smoking produces a sense of apathy. A person has a lack of interest and motivation in studying. More weed means fewer classes, and fewer classes mean a lower GPA.
3) Effects of booze and pot include impaired short-term memory, problem-solving, attention, spatial visualization ability, and executive function. This makes learners less efficient at retaining material in class and studying in general.

The study also showed that when students in the third cluster (with the lowest GPAs) decided to limit their booze and weed consumption, their grades improved.
More than 4,000 students participated in another research study with revealed similar results. It was found that college students in Netherlands who lost access to legal marijuana improved their grades. The probabilities of passing their courses increased by more than 5 percent. Students with a poor performance who were at a higher risk of dropping out benefited even more.

Student opinions and experience on this issue differ:

There’s a difference between habitual weed smoking and indulging yourself on a day off. The former would certainly lead one to not care about studying and grades. But an occasional puff could be very enlightening. – Susan, 19

I had no problems when I smoked occasionally. I really liked it. It was when I started having bong hits for breakfast that the grades began to sag. – Peter, 21

Smoking marijuana in college was one of the biggest mistakes in my life. My GPA suffered greatly. Many academic and professional doors were shut forever. My degree was devalued and my parents couldn’t buy my way into an acceptable grad program where I could cover my tracks. – Jack, 24

It's because all these fools are killing off their brain cells with that garbage. I think the only people that want to legalize this stuff are addicted people who don't want to go to jail. Smart people don't take drugs. – Ann, 20

I absolutely recognize that marijuana slows my ability to take in new information, to focus on my homework, and get my job done. So, I don’t smoke before I attend a class, write my essay, read something, or go to work. – Nick, 21

Researchers think that educational institutions should discourage their students from becoming heavy users of alcohol and marijuana. If young people do not see any harm in drinking and smoking a bit, they are likely to do that. Colleges and universities should create more education and prevention programs in order to promote healthy campus environment and behaviors.

The aforementioned studies provide credible evidence that marijuana legalization can lead to more use and reduced academic success. It is especially true to struggling students. Both proponents and opponents of legalization should keep that in mind.