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A state of slackers

USF ranked higher than both UF and FSU on a recent Princeton Review list, but it has no reason to celebrate.

That’s because USF came in at No. 5 on the admissions consulting company’s unflattering list of the top 10 universities where students study the least. The four major public universities in Florida made the list, adding to the already poor reputation of Sunshine State education.

At first, I dismissed the ranking because of its vagueness. I can’t see how someone quantifies “studying.” This could consist of reading, writing, practice problems, homework and anything else a student does to get ahead in class.

Yet, while these findings should be taken with a grain of salt, it can’t be a coincidence that the big four in the State University System of Florida are featured in the top 10.

Maybe these not-so-studious Florida students are just so smart that they don’t need to hit the books as hard. For Adam Vierbickas, a junior majoring in business management, retaining knowledge comes easy.

“I don’t study that much, maybe four to five times a week for a half hour to an hour,” he said. “I guess I’m lucky – it doesn’t take me much to learn something.”

Vierbickas said he wasn’t surprised at the ranking, citing partying as the reason he’s seen some of his peers skip out on their studies.

“When I lived on campus, there were parties everywhere. When I moved off campus, there were parties everywhere,” he said. “But it’s not just that. Some majors just aren’t challenging enough to warrant rigorous studying.”

According to Princeton Review, USF has an average GPA of 3.64. This is the lowest of the four public universities, but still an A-. If students aren’t studying and still making the grade, then perhaps the curriculum is too easy.

Vierbickas started out majoring in education, but switched because he felt he wasn’t getting a quality education.

“The classes that I took for that major, I could sleep through and get an A,” he said.

Maybe Princeton Review just happened to interview disinterested people at these four campuses. Perhaps Jake Leavitt, supervisor at Jamba Juice in the Marshall Center, was one of them.

Leavitt said he dropped out of USF in the fall of his sophomore year. He majored in biomedical sciences and theater before his constant absences and lack of interest led to him withdrawing from the University.

“When I was going to classes, I would study when I had to – maybe cram the night before,” he said. “But eventually, I gave up. I was tired of wasting money.”

Leavitt, who plans to return to school, said he felt that general education requirements forced him to take classes he would never use. He said he wishes universities could alter curriculum to tackle real world problems.

“Like now, I’m trying to buy a used car,” he said. “I wish they would have taught me something about that – there’s so much that goes into it. But they’d rather force you to take some history class.”

On the other end of the spectrum are those who study vehemently to do more than just scrape by. Maggie Gianniosis, a sophomore majoring in microbiology, said she studies every day for about four hours.

And she isn’t lying – I found her outlining her calculus book on the first day of classes. Now that’s dedication.

“This is not high school anymore,” she said. “The professors give you the curriculum and your assignments, and it’s up to you.”

Gianniosis said that growing up in Canada she found that her education was “much more rigorous” compared to here.

“I’ve heard a lot about Florida and its schools, and they aren’t very positive things,” she said.