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Procrastination helps, troubles students

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 01:11

Procrastination girl

Tanner Garza

Freshman general studies major Lauren Waldron tries to study in the flag room Monday afternoon despite the multitude of distractions from her cellphone.

The scene is a familiar one students experience everyday; that long, overdue wake up call on Sunday morning after a weekend out with friends only to remember a pestering writing assignment for English class is due at 8 a.m the next morning.

Procrastination is an issue some students struggle with on a daily basis. It is a behavior of postponing that can damage academic endeavors and negatively affect the health of students. Procrastination can take many forms but some are more prevalent than others.

“I guess social life is the main reason for procrastination, especially wanting to go out with friends,” said Cole Ellerbrock, sophomore general studies major. “I don’t know if I would say it necessarily negatively affects health, but I would say it definitely adds more stress.”

Habits developed from procrastination can begin to form as early as grade school. In high school, students have no serious consequences for putting off work assigned by teachers. When students get to college, that learning environment changes.

“I feel like in high school there were more homework assignments and more due dates, so it kept you on track and you had something due every week,” said Jenna Stewart, junior interdisciplinary studies major. “I know, being in college, that there are so many other things I would rather spend my time doing so it makes doing school work harder.”

Students may procrastinate for a number of reasons. Procrastination can be used as a coping mechanism to distract them from unpleasant tasks or even as an excuse for failure. While many students know it is a bad habit to perpetuate, they do little to change the behavior.

“It becomes a habit that is hard to break,” said Bethany Smith, professional counselor with Student Counseling Services. “I think for many people it is a matter of disinterest in the task at hand. There’s likely always something else someone would rather be doing than studying.”

However, for some students, procrastination can have small advantages.

“For me, there are some times, if it’s a writing assignment, I tend to do better when I have less time,” Smith said. “I just tend to do better under pressure, when I have writing assignments.”

Procrastination is a long-developed habit that can be difficult to break. Although there are many ways to combat the behavior, these strategies require constant work on behalf of students. Physical reminders in specific places, such as sticky notes, can often serve as helpful tools. Other methods, such as breaking down goals into several tasks, or rewarding oneself for completing tasks on time are also effective methods, according to Student Counseling Services.

“I always like to-do lists,” Ellerbrock said. “I don’t know what it is, but I’ll write to-do lists on a sheet of paper. I think there’s something about just seeing a list and crossing things off that makes you want to accomplish those things.”

Procrastination is a habit that can only grow worse as students continue to rely on it. The stress it creates can affect many areas of students’ lives outside of schoolwork and even later on in their professional careers. Students have to find the best strategy that works for them to maintain control over the increasing demands of college.

“It takes a real commitment to focus on goals and do the work it takes to reach them,” Smith said. “I remind myself of what’s important to me in my life and career and find ways to reward myself for hard work and appreciate my efforts for what they are.”


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