Kevin J. Quintero
It’s the night before class and the final draft is due. The paper had been assigned three weeks prior, but not a single hour of work had been done before hand. The hours pass and there still isn’t a single word on the page. Despite any effort, there simply wasn’t enough time to complete the essay. By all means, there were more than enough days to work on the paper, but that means absolutely nothing if the essay is only worked on the last day. There was hardly any time for research. It was the last minute and the work showed just that. Yet another student had fallen into the pitfall that is procrastination.
Procrastination is an age-old problem that many people often stumble into. It is often defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something.” Problems with procrastinating range in severity from putting off room cleaning to postponing doctor’s checkups. Basically, it can either be a small annoyance, or a serious medical issue. Among the groups of people who suffer the most from procrastination are students in higher forms of education, specifically high school and college. The varying amounts of work assigned to them in addition to their personal life provides several opportunities for assignments to be postponed or ignored. Indeed, a study showed that between 70% and 95% of students procrastinate regularly and in addition to that 50% of students procrastinate frequently and problematically. (Xie 396) An overabundance of procrastination turns it into an unhealthy habit and can push it further into addiction. If left unchecked, it’s a dangerous addiction that can ruin a student’s academic prospects.
So, what exactly causes students to procrastinate? It can stem from a variety of places. One of the most common areas is anxiety from overworking. Stress is a simple method of breaking down. If someone doesn’t take a break every once in a while, after working endlessly they will just deteriorate and work slower or not at all. This often times leads to the avoidance of work entirely once that break is finally taken. The mind subconsciously links the anxiety to toiling away and dissuades from working in order to avoid that stress. This is a real situation, and studies have confirmed that, “There is a link between academic procrastination and anxiety among students”. (Saplavska, 1194) Another aspect of that anxiety is the fear of failure. “In this respect, research suggests that when students experience fear of failure, they may feel compelled to resort to disaffection, and to procrastinate”. (Codruta and Viorel, 120) Perfectionist tendencies are accentuated with that fear, spawning a possible mentality of pointlessness. If it can’t all be done perfectly, then only some of it can be done perfectly. The common frustration and anxiety of college or high school stirs up that lingering resentment or fear a student may have at the academic system and potentially makes them flippant and truant. An associated problem along with that fear of failure is resorting to cheating. The link between anxiety and procrastination is abundantly clear, as well as the slippery slope that is.
The addiction to procrastination is the true problem that comes with it. Procrastinating may be perceived as a negative yet somewhat benign habit. Many people recognize themselves as being procrastinators, “…psychological studies show  that regular procrastination can be revealed in 15-25 % of the world’s population.” (Saplavska, 1195) Since it’s so commonplace, many people don’t think it to be a problem large enough to worry about. After all, “everybody does it”. However, just because it is common doesn’t mean it can’t take a turn for the worse. Like many other things, a long history with frequent procrastination is a clear sign of an addiction. If it’s serious enough to be categorized as such, the problem becomes even bigger than it already was. An addiction is inherently psychological, suddenly that benign action can change an entire lifestyle. While an addiction to an action doesn’t change much chemically, it still makes that action harder to deter. If severe procrastination is treated more as an addiction, then an array of different solutions can come to light.
It has become clear that procrastination in students has become a serious issue, so what can be done to alleviate that problem? A simple solution would be outside help and motivators. Again, like an addiction, help from others with scheduling and deterrence will progressively make the problem go away. It won’t be an instant cure, but having someone there to push and motivate will make it more difficult to procrastinate. In addition to that, teachers and professors reaching out will also help. Given their specializations and familiarity with different subjects, instructors can provide effective schedules of whatever assignment a student may be working on. They can provide different methods of studying, step by step frameworks for certain projects and essays, and persistent helpful pestering with reminders. However, it isn’t entirely necessary to baby a procrastinator. If that person can be built up and motivated properly, then they, all on their own, can more frequently commit to their work. Considering that, it’s also important not to overwork the students. A careful balance of assignments with reasonable deadlines along with motivational methods give ample room for improvement.
Procrastination is a fixable problem among students. Often it becomes a long-time habit and stays with a person. If it’s dealt with early then it becomes less of an overall issue with people. Providing those good habits and motivators early on can really help in the long run. The procrastination problem probably won’t go away entirely, it hasn’t for millennia, but deterring the option and providing aid will surely prevent it from getting serious.
Saplavska, Jelena, and Aleksandra Jerkunkova. “Academic Procrastination and Anxiety among Students.” Engineering for Rural Development – International Scientific Conference, Jan. 2018, pp. 1192–1197. EBSCOhost, doi:10.22616/ERDev2018.17.N357.
Batool, Syeda Shahida, et al. “Academic Procrastination as a Product of Low Self-Esteem: A Mediational Role of Academic Self-Efficacy.” Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, vol. 32, no. 1, Summer 2017, pp. 195–211. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=125676740&site=ehost-live.
YU XIE, et al. “Procrastination and Multidimensional Perfectionism: A Meta-Analysis of Main, Mediating, and Moderating Effects.” Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, vol. 46, no. 3, Mar. 2018, pp. 395–408. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2224/sbp.6680.
Muñoz-Olano, Juan F., and Camilo Hurtado-Parrado. “Effects of Goal Clarification on Impulsivity and Academic Procrastination of College Students.” Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, vol. 49, no. 3, Sept. 2017, pp. 173–181. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.rlp.2017.03.001.
MIH, Codruţa, and Viorel MIH. “Fear of Failure, Disaffection and Procrastination as Mediators between Controlled Motivation and Academic Cheating.” Cognitie, Creier, Comportament/Cognition, Brain, Behavior, vol. 20, no. 2, June 2016, pp. 117–132. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=116399528&site=ehost-live.
Gifford, Elizabeth, and Keith Humphreys. “The Psychological Science of Addiction.” Addiction, vol. 102, no. 3, Mar. 2007, pp. 352–361. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01706.x.