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Why do students procrastinate?

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 19:12

Super Student

Illustration by Ghada Yousef/ Prospectus News

“Hungry? Why Wait?”

That’s the infamous tagline of the Snickers candy bar. It’s a rhetorical question that prompts a logical solution.

If there is some edible treat in the vicinity and you are hungry, there is no need in delaying that desire right? Right.

This method of thinking appears to have been highly successful for the Snickers brand. Unfortunately it doesn’t translate to everything in life.

Take homework for instance.

More often than not, instructors give ample amount of time to finish papers, projects and presentations. Consequently, more often than not, students tend to delay these assignments to the last possible second.

Procrastination is a mental disorder, a disease, a plague of sorts. It infects the mental processes of a student’s brain and forces them to ignore deadlines.

The illness gives students the perception that completing an assignment even an hour before the deadline is taboo, almost illegal in certain instances.

For procrastinators, doing work in a timely fashion is downright un-American.

Maybe that definition was a bit of a stretch, but to a procrastinator it might as well be true.

What’s the motivation?

“Because I’m lazy and I put off stuff,” Metzli Olivar said.

Olivar is a student in the Pre-Med Program. That statement isn’t condemning her academic record or ability. It is simply insight into the world of procrastination.

“I’d rather go hang with my friends than do my homework,” she said.

That’s fair enough.

“I still get good grades because I know I have to get it done, but I think it just makes me stress out more. If I took the time to actually do my work with good time it wouldn’t be such a headache,” Olivar said.

Two words stand out from Olivar’s statement: stress and headache. If procrastinators do understand this, then why do they continue with this way of life?

“I do it so much, it’s just natural,” Derick Johnson said.

Johnson, a Paramedic major, and Olivar both agree that more time put into school work is definitely beneficial for the average student. Yet procrastination still runs wild.

Carrie Taylor, psychology professor, makes an interesting assessment, one that ties into Johnson’s comments.

“I think maybe we learn to procrastinate, I don’t think it comes naturally,” Taylor said.

“If we’ve done that in the past and that looming deadline is what gets us started to actually get something completed, we learn that it works so we do it again.”

A loose translation leads us to assume that procrastination becomes a part of that person’s everyday life. It is reminiscent of the old cliché, “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it”.

If procrastination has become a learned, effective process, who are we to judge or alter the method by which you complete your school work?

Then again, there were quite a number of students standing in the admissions line Friday morning waiting until the last possible second to drop a class. That’s another issue for another news story.

Taylor provides another theory on the mind of the procrastinator.

“We only procrastinate on things that we are not anxious to do,” Taylor explained.

“So when we procrastinate with schoolwork it’s because it’s something we’re not really looking forward to. The longer we procrastinate, the bigger the task seems in our mind. So that makes it more and more difficult to get started because it becomes this huge terrible task that we want to avoid at all costs. But if we just get started right away and just break it down into parts, it becomes manageable.”

Manageable is quite the foreign concept to procrastinators.

You’ll quite often see procrastinators go with the all or nothing approach. This approach usually comes equipped with an unparalleled stress factor and tons of pressure.

Who’s to say it isn’t welcomed though?

“I think some people do well under pressure, some people not so much,” Taylor said.

“A little pressure usually is good for us. Too much-our performance tends to suffer. So for people who really thrive with kind of that stress factor, I think that they can pull it through at the last minute.”

“The people who can’t handle that stress probably won’t be as successful if they procrastinate.”

There is no concrete answer as to why students procrastinate. It comes down to an individual’s ability to handle pushing deadlines to the limit so to speak.

One thing is for sure, you better not procrastinate reading this article.

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