In-depth: The truth behind procrastination

by Walker John

(Photo: Google)

College students are constantly becoming victim to the distant due-date. Three days become one day, one day becomes 12 hours, and suddenly it’s 2:00 a.m. and you’re desperately trying to complete a five-page essay before class in the morning.

The number of students who take part in this practice of waiting until last minute isn’t small either. During a 2007 meta-analysis, Dr. Piers Steel, University of Calgary psychology professor, found that 80 percent to 95 percent of college students are guilty of procrastination.

A big factor in student procrastination is the distracting presence of the internet and social media as it allows us to escape the frustrations of difficult assignments, and can keep us occupied for hours. Some students even have to turn their phones off to avoid constantly going back and forth between social media and their assignment.

Procrastination is caused by more than just distractions, however, especially in more extreme cases.

According to Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University, the trend of procrastination in college students stems from a sense of self-doubt. Based on his experimental findings, students worry that their work will be inadequate while also fearing that success will raise others’ expectations of them.

“As students, you’re always being pushed to your depths—that’s what learning is,” Pychyl said, according to the American Psychological Association.

As procrastination becomes habitual, it can hinder the performance of students mentally and physically. The stereotypical image of caffeine-induced, late night study sessions in college is reality for many students. The National Institutes of Health reports that sleep deprivation in college students has been linked to lower GPA’s because sleep affects concentration, memory, and the ability to learn.

The University of Georgia Health Center reports that sleep deprivation results in a lowered immune system, making students more likely to contract illnesses. This is especially concerning for college students as they are living in small dorms with many people where  illnesses can spread easily.

To combat procrastination and its negative effects, students should set aside designated time to work on assignments. Depending on the assignment, disconnecting from the internet and shutting off their phones would also be very beneficial in avoiding distractions. Furthermore, by completing assignments early, students have more opportunity to revise and look over their work which creates a sense of confidence and prevents self-doubt.


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