Daily Routines of PubPol Students

The Daily Routines of Public Policy Students


The Daily Routines of Duke Undergraduate Public Policy Students

Jackie Jae Hyun Park

April 25, 2019



Public Policy is one of the three most popular majors for undergraduate students at Duke University. The major attracts an incredibly diverse group of students in terms of race, gender, interests, and so on. But with such a variety, do all pubpol students’ daily routines look the same? What does each student do on a daily basis and how much time do they dedicate to the activity? Which time of the day do students engage in which kinds of activities? How do daily routines differ according to different characteristics of students?

This study aims to answer these questions through a comparative study analyzing the daily routines of undergraduate pubpol students. It provides an overall evaluation of how pubpol students spend their lives at Duke, and pinpoint important comparisons based on different features of students.

The data was collected through randomly assigned surveys requesting information about the subjects and their daily routines. We collected 48 surveys in total. The survey asked to fill out a clock representing 24 hours of the day, based on either one particular day that best represents the student’s day-to-day activities or an average of the student’s weekday schedules. Students were asked to provide information about the three main variables of the research; the variables are the following:

  1. Activity: sleep (including going to bed & getting ready in the morning), class, club(s), work (studying, assignments, job/internship search, going to talks, etc.), job (on and off campus), leisure (non-work activities enjoyed alone such as netflix, reading, eating by yourself, etc.), socializing (hanging out or eating w/ others, etc.), health (exercising, yoga, meditation, etc.), and other (specify what, if you choose this option)

  2. Student Characteristics: gender, race, class (upper/underclassmen), affiliation (greek, SLG, independent), club involvement (# of clubs with active involvement), jobs on/off campus (# of jobs working and reason for working), and academic pursuits (different majors/minors/certificates).

  3. Time of Day: From 12:00am a certain day to 12:00am the following day, in 30 minute units.

The data was then visualized through graphics. Some graphics are analog so that viewers could absorb the presented comparisons as they are, while others are interactive, in which case viewers are able to control their cursor to view more details about certain categories or view additional analysis and comparisons based on sub-categories. This article contains those graphics as well as key takeaways from the analysis performed through those data visualizations. We will begin with an overview of pubpol students’ daily routines.

General Overview of Public Policy Students’ Daily Routines

This interactive visualization portrays the daily routines of every student. Use the filters on the right to select a particular demographic of students.


Now that we have seen an overview of the daily routines, we will delve into the specifics of their routines, making comparisons based on our three different variables. The following comparative visualizations demonstrate who engaged in which activity at what time in the day as well as explore intersections amongst the three variables.

Comparisons based on Different Variables

Scroll through different visualizations by clicking on the gray squares to review comparisons based on different variables. The first two visualizations are analog, while the last two visualizations are interactive.


Key Takeaways:

  • Comparison based on Activities:

    • Student get an average of 7.87 hours of sleep on a daily basis, which is within the recommended range of sleep time for young adults.

    • Students spend much more time on work related activities (work, class, job) than leisure related activities (socializing, leisure, health). The sum of averages on work and leisure related activities are 10.67 and 4.72 hours respectively. Clubs can be either work or leisure related, depending on the nature of the club, but the average amount of time dedicated to clubs is so small (0.85) that it would be an insignificant addition to either category.

  • Comparison based on Student Characteristics:

    • There was not much difference between female and male students in time spent on sleep, work, and clubs, with less than a 0.1 hour difference.

    • Female students dedicate more time on class and jobs, while male students dedicate more time on socializing, leisure, and health.

    • There was not much difference amongst students of different races in time spent on sleep and work. Black students exceeded in dedication to classes (6.2 hrs compared to 3.8 for Asian and 4.2 for White),

    • Black students dedicate no time to clubs, and Asian students dedicate more than two times the amount of time White students do to clubs (1.6 vs. 0.7 hrs).

    • Asian and White students spend the same average time (2.0 hrs) on socializing, while Black students spend less time on socializing (1.2 hrs). On the other hand, Asian and Black students spend the same average time (1.3 hrs) on leisure, while White students spend more time on leisure (1.7 hrs).

    • Amongst the affiliated and non-affiliated students, Greek students spent an exceeding amount of time on health and SLG students spent an exceeding amount of time on leisure.

    • For average amount of time spent on jobs, women dedicated more time working than men (1.3 vs. 0.5 hrs), Asian and Black students exceeded White students (1.6 vs. 2.2 vs. 0.5 hrs), and SLG and Independent students exceeded students in Greek Life (1.5 vs. 1.5 vs. 0.6 hrs).

  • Comparisons based on Time of Day:

    • Most students go to sleep between 12am. The earliest sleeper goes to sleep at 8am and the latest at 3am.

    • About 50% of students start their days at 9am, and the rest wake up some time between 9:30am-10am.

    • Students engage in work throughout their entire day, with the peak time being 8pm-11pm. The earliest a student starts working a student works is 7am and the latest is until 3am.

    • Students with jobs work at different times of the day, with the distribution ranging from 8am to 11pm. The peak time for job work is 3pm-5pm, right after class.

    • Club activities also happen at different times of the day, with the distribution ranging from 6:30am to 12am. The peak time for club activity is 4:30pm-8pm.

    • Between 10am and 3pm, most students are in class. But some students go to class as early as 7am and/or are there till as late as 10:30pm.

    • Most students socialize either dinner time (6pm-8pm) or before going to sleep (10pm-12am). Most students also try enjoying leisure time before going to sleep (11pm-12am).

Shortcomings: There are less than 5 students total in Hawaiian/Pacific and Native American, so were not able to hear from any of those races. There are much less Black students within the department as well, so the sample size for Black students was also small compared to the that of the other two races and we cannot assume that their answers are representative of all Black public policy students.


Few Duke students only pursue one academic field; likewise, many public policy students also study different areas through another major, minor, and/or certificate. The following visualization compares the daily routines of students with different academic pursuits.

Comparison based on Academic Pursuits

This interactive visualization, at first glance, shows how many students pursue different academic fields with differing degrees of dedication (majoring in another field requires more commitment to the field than minoring or getting a certificate). Then, the visualization offers additional analysis of how students each category dedicate their time to different activities when you hover over the circles.


Key Takeaways:

  • Only 4% of the surveyed population (2 out of 48 students) study just public policy. The other 98% of students pursue another academic interest, whether it is another major, minor, or certificate.

  • Students in Category 1 studying just public policy spend an exceeding amount of time socializing (4.5 hrs) compared to students in other categories (Cat2 - 0.8 hrs, Cat3 - 1.8 hrs, Cat4 - 2.0 hrs).

  • Students in Category 2 and 3 dedicate at least an average of 0.5-2.0 hours to jobs and clubs. On the other hand, Category 1 students indicated that they dedicate no time to jobs or clubs, and Category 4 students dedicate less than 1 hour to both activities.

  • The average amount of time dedicated to attending class correlates with the number of academic pursuits, with Category 1 students dedicating an average of 3.5 hours to class, Category 2 dedicating 3.9 hrs, Category 3 dedicating 4.0 hrs, and Category 4 dedicating 4.9 hrs.

Shortcomings: Because the sample size for category one is so small, we cannot assume that the average of their daily routines is representative of all pubpol students that only study public policy.


Some public policy students work jobs on and/or off campus while others do not. In the surveys, students revealed that they’ve worked jobs such as research, being a teaching assistant, note-taking, work studies, and off campus internships. The following visualization compares time dedication to different activities between students who work and those who don’t. The circular sunburst chart then assesses the demographic of students who work.

Students working Job(s) vs. No Job

This analog visualization compares the daily dedication to activities of students who work versus those who don’t.


Composition of Job Working Students

This analog visualization illustrates how many students are in each category of students’ characteristics within the sample of students who work.


How to read chart:

Descriptions for each layer, from most inner to outer:

1. Number of jobs student works (1, 2, or 3)

2. Reason for working (Financial or Work Experience)

3. Gender

4. Race, number of students in that category

Key Takeaways:

  • There are no significant differences in the amount of time spent on each activity for most activities except job and socializing. For both groups, the top 3 rankings for time spent on activities is sleep, work, and class respectively. But while job ranks 4th place for students with jobs (8.4% of 24 hours), socializing ranks 4th for students without jobs (10.1%)

  • Students without jobs spend nearly two times the amount socializing (10.1% of 24 hours) to students with jobs (5.6%).

  • Regardless of reasons for working, most students who work are female (17 out of 22 students).

  • Students working 1 and 2 jobs have a similar distribution for work reasons. But the majority of students working 3 jobs work for financial reasons.

Shortcomings: Considering the small sample size we were able to gather, once again, we cannot necessarily deduce that this demographic is representative of the overall working public policy student population.



Gillian Samios, Melissa Carrico, and Fiene Leunissen.