Procrastination in College
It’s Tuesday evening (when I usually submit my articles), and I commented to my wife I didn’t have any idea what this week’s article would be on. Without a thought, she said “Procrastination”. So I guess that makes me an expert on this week’s topic!
Procrastination is probably one of the biggest problems some college students experience. I use the word “experience”, but it’s an entirely curable problem. It’s a problem most everyone experiences sometime, but I think it gets worse when students are on their own going to medical school or college. The combination of more challenging academics, reduced parental involvement, and simply not knowing how to accomplish things contribute to an atmosphere where it’s easier to procrastinate – not to mention everyone else doing it!
It’s not like procrastination starts or ends in college. It’s just the first time students are left to their own devices to figure things out and accomplish what needs to be done. I often hear students reporting “I didn’t have enough time to do that”, referring to all kinds of things. Of course, not having enough time is entirely related to when you start. And waiting to start something, whatever the reason, reduces the amount of time available to finish it. Students sometimes don’t listen to themselves when they complain about not having enough time, when in reality they’ve known about the assignment/test/paper, since the beginning of the semester.
So how do we avoid this problem? As with most of my advice, I believe recognition is the first step. Being aware of how prevalent procrastination is can help students deal with it - proactively. But then, simply dive in! It doesn’t matter if you know what you’re doing or where you’re headed (writing the paper, studying for the test, etc.). By intentionally sitting down to think about the paper, re-reading the assignment, jotting down some notes, writing down questions you have for the teacher, and a million other things, you can start to break down a complex, imposing problem into smaller, more accomplishable tasks. Once you’ve made it appear less daunting, you just have to consistently work at it, a little at a time, then put in the hours necessary to do a good job, leaving yourself a cushion at the end in case your hard drive crashes, or your dog eats your paper.
One added benefit to generating questions about that assignment, is that you now have a reason to go talk to your professor. As I’ve mentioned before in this column, college students should go talk to their professors – getting to know them and allowing them to get to know you. This is a perfect opportunity to find out what you want to know, and at the same time standing out in the professor’s mind because you’re the only person in the class actually thinking about that assignment early. I’m not suggesting brown-nosing, but making a good impression while finding out information you need just makes sense.
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