A favorite subject among many teachers and parents to speak at length upon is procrastination. For the most part, they look upon it with derision and scorn, warning their students and children not to slip into the habit in such fierce vehemence that one would imagine procrastination to be the number one killer in America today. The surgeon general has just declared procrastination to be dangerous to your health, if you procrastinate, you will undoubtedly drop out of school, become a crack addict, and die. That seems to be the popular message today. My parents and teachers have spent more time talking to me about procrastination than about cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, or any number of other unpleasant things.
What is it about waiting till the last minute that appeals to so many of us? The vast majority of college students are guilty of procrastinating on a regular basis, and most will readily admit to it. Just yesterday, I had an assignment due for a political science class, which was to be completed and submitted online before midnight. I had more than a week to work on it, but I didn’t even start it until about noon of the day that it was due. Worse than that, only a few minutes after I had started it, some friends came to my room and said that they were going to the beach. I went with them. We stayed out most of the day and even went out to dinner afterwards, and didn’t get back to the dorms until about 10 that night, at which point I rushed to my room and finished my assignment at, quite literally, the last minute. I’ll probably do the same thing with the next assignment, and I’m not alone in that. It’s not a matter of forgetting about assignments, most of us write them down or mark them on a calendar, I myself have a bevy of sticky notes posted above my desk. Nor is it a matter of not having the time, I have been bored on plenty of occasions when I had homework, but instead of doing it I would putter around or sleep or do just about anything other than homework. It has become procrastination for the sake of procrastination, there really is no rhyme or reason to it, but it is not a bad system. Grades do not necessarily suffer because of procrastination, so long as the work still gets done. Saving everything for the last minute instead of trying to space it out over the week can lead to late night homework sessions, but ultimately the work still takes the same amount of time, and is done to the same standards.
For the most part, college students manage to keep their grades up despite procrastination, and although every once in a while you’ll hear about a student that wasn’t able to manage, that is the exception rather than the rule for procrastinators. It’s a lifestyle for many of us, just a way of doing things, and it is not an exceptionally destructive one. For many, however, the concept of procrastination has become synonymous with being a slacker. Is this really a fair comparison? Procrastinators get their work done, and more often than not do a quality job. Most of the procrastinators I know even hold down a part-time job outside of school. So why is it that procrastinators are labeled as slackers and ne’er do wells? This is an honest question, I don’t know the answer to it. Most of my friends from New York in high school, myself included, were expert procrastinators. Despite that, we all graduated near the top of our class and are now honor students at various excellent schools, some of us now attend college in Florida, some stayed in New York, and I myself now attend college in Hawaii. We are high achievers, every one of us, and procrastinators still. To me it seems to boil down to a personal preference of how people like to do things. I’ve tried getting all of my work done early, just to see if it made a difference, if it made me happier and the world a better place, but it didn’t. Procrastination doesn’t kill people, in fact it makes us live longer, as we keep putting of dying until later.