High Minds and High Grades
Marijuana is something that numerous college students familiarize themselves with. In fact, about 1/17 college students claim that they smoke daily according to a University of Michigan Monitoring the Future study. Combine the increased demand for studying with the
absence of parents and you get college students studying while under the influence. We all have a friend, or at least know someone, who always seems to get high before studying. I never considered that consuming marijuana was ever helpful in terms of academics, but I never really thought about it. Even though a select few of my friends do this, they still manage to get good grades and test well. Does getting high before studying give them an advantage?
A student’s grade point average is often a metric used to determine their success as a student. In one study, the GPAs of students at Georgia College who do and do not smoke weed were observed. While the visuals provided in the study are not exactly easy to anal
yze, they all support the conclusion that there was a moderately negative correlation between marijuana consumption and GPA. The figure to the left shows a scatter plot relating the level of marijuana consumption (1-30, 30 being a high level of consumption) to the average GPA of the students. In this specific study, marijuana actually HURT the academic performance of the students. No explanation was provided as to why the GPAs were lower among the students who smoke. Even without a mechanism, the conclusion can still stand. Possible third variables were considered and the low p- values acquired through the statistical analysis dismissed the claim that the results were due to chance.
Drop Out Rates
While the previous study concluded that marijuana hurt academic performance, another study from the Center on Young Adult Health and Development discussed marijuana and its linkage to drop outs. The figure to the right helps illustrate what the study found. Those who were classified as chronic or heavy users of marijuana in the past month were 40.8% more likely to drop out according to the graph. What was interesting was how students who gradually increased the amount of marijuana they consumed also became more likely to drop out over time. The drop out rate was caused by unsatisfactory academic performance, often resulting in the student being kicked out of the school.
So if marijuana leads to a decreased level of academic performance, why is it that my some of the people I know are able to excel in school while being potheads at the same time?
I believe the answer lies in why the people I know choose to smoke. They do not smoke in order to get better grades, because that clearly does not work according to most studies. They choose to smoke before they study because it allows them to become less stressed, and focus specifically on the task at hand, rather than being distracted by various other things. If getting high allows them to concentrate, or even motivates them to study, then it is no surprise that they can still manage good grades and high test scores. In conclusion, marijuana itself does not lead to better academic performance, but if it is consumed in order to make you more comfortable while studying, then it may end up being beneficial.