Despite cons, students frequently procrastinate

[media-credit name="Jenny Lewis" align="alignnone" width="300"][/media-credit]
Freshmen Haley Ring, Sofia Espada and Lauren Manley spend study hall using their cellphones instead of doing homework.

by Gloria Li

After a strenuous day filled with classes about integral calculus and the hidden meanings in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, student then have rigorous extra-curricular activities. Therefore, upon returning home, the last thing students desire is to launch into a mountain of homework.

“It seems like every teenager procrastinates,” according to junior Audrey DeRobert, who admitted to doing so herself.

“I guess I just get caught up with other things,” she said.

Usually, DeRobert said she just wants to take some time to relax, but then she struggles to switch back to “homework mode.”

DeRobert said, “I know people who either lose a lot of sleep over procrastination, or just get lazy in the end and don’t do the work at all.”

Procrastination provides means for relaxation, according to junior Evan Nitkin. “It’s a great stress-reliever,” he said.

Nitkin said he always has work to do, and the only way in which he can get a break from his strenuous daily workload is by “putting it off for a while.”

He noted that while a procrastination overdose can be harmful to students’ performance in school, “in moderation it’s fine and quite pleasurable.”

Math teacher Leslie Meyer claimed that procrastination can effectively be modeled by a negative parabola.

“When people are young, they procrastinate a lot, then they do it less so in the middle of their life and more again towards the end when they get lazy,” she said.

Moreover, Meyer emphasized, “People never truly master procrastination, and it always stays with them.”

Juniors typically tend to stress out about a mandatory long-term research paper for U.S. history, the junior thesis. Because the paper is long-term, many students find it easy to procrastinate on, but rarely do they, as junior Nicholas Epstein did, pull an all-nighter on a school night before a major deadline.

When the 150 junior thesis note cards were due the next day, Epstein said, “I bought a stash of caffeinated bubble gum and prepared myself for a sleepless night.”

He said that he was confident that he could do this because last year, in Katherine Heidlage’s  honors world history course, he completed a year-long project in two days.

“I got a B+ on that project, and I think I tend to work pretty well when my time is limited,” he said.

Senior Bonnie Chen said that when teachers space individual portions of long term projects out, “it’s not effective at all because it gives student more time to procrastinate and more means of doing so.”

However, in general, Chen said, “I don’t think it’s a bad thing when others procrastinate because there are times when procrastinating helps relieve stress.”

Senior Boshan Mo echoed Chen’s sentiment. Although many refer to procrastination as being counterproductive, and it often carries with it a negative connotation, he said, “It can be a good thing sometimes.”

He noted that even though procrastination forces people to do things in a short time frame, it also makes them complete tasks and fulfill goals more efficiently.

The time crunch may be an issue for some, like Chen, but for others, such as Epstein and Mo, it allows for maximum productivity. While there are students  who tend to procrastinate, there are also those who practice the complete opposite of procrastination.

Freshman Kavish Gandhi, a student in junior honors math, completes his math assignments every weekend prior to their due dates so as to not be bogged down during the week.

He said he can be spotted finishing essays late at night weeks in advance of a due date.

“I do everything ahead of time, and sometimes my parents get mad about how late I’m staying up for that,” he said.

Gandhi’s math teacher, Elena Graceffa, said she believes students ought to “do work that they like first and other assignments later.”

She also encouraged using a self-motivating reward system. “Personally, I feel as if I work better when I give myself something in return afterward,” she said.

Graceffa said, “If I, say, promise myself that I’ll get to watch a movie after I finish my work, then I’ll do it faster.”

Some students procrastinate on homework that is due the next day by completing assignments due later on in the week.

Junior Alex Mang said, “Sometimes, if I have an assignment due say for Tuesday, which I really dislike, I’ll do the work due Wednesday instead to put it off.”

Mang said he tends to put off large English reading assignments in order to opt for math or chemistry homework. He terms this “healthy procrastination.”

Overall, however, Mang said he believes that “procrastination is bad.”

From experience, he said, “if you put off a paper or other work until the last minute, and thus stay up until the wee hours of the morning, you will create something that is worse than what you could have made while alert and fully conscious.”

Not only does it affect the quality of the work, he said, but procrastination can lead to sleep deprivation, which can negatively impact a student’s learning ability.

Mang noted, however, that if the quality of one’s work does not drop and one is not sleep deprived, then he sees “no problem with procrastination.”

On the other hand, some, such as senior Abby Dalzell, believe that procrastination always increases drama and stress, and is highly unnecessary.

“That doesn’t mean that I don’t do it though,” she said, “and I’m actually pretty bad about it.”

In order to procrastinate, she said she often finds herself “working out or watching shows” on her computer.

“I find Hulu especially addicting,” she said.

On the days when she feels a strong aversion to accomplishing something, she will even clean her room to avoid doing it.

Dalzell noted that although her policy was to “just not stress out about anything” during “senior slump.”

However, she said she has not procrastinated very much since Semester II began, which she attributes to the fact that senior teachers are beginning to assign less work in non-Advanced Placement courses. By being assigned less work, Dalzell said, “I’m more inclined to do it, which makes me much more efficient.”

Dalzell also accredited her productivity to how she “just get things done” on her own time because she doesn’t need to worry as much about her grades and her GPA anymore.

Knowing that she should be stress-free and that there isn’t any work piling up around her, she said, “makes it easier for me to get everything done.”

According to English teacher Timothy Finnegan, when students procrastinate, they “feel a sense of accomplishment in having done the work despite not having done it well.”

He said procrastination accounts for many of the low grades students in his classes receive.

Usually, students hand in work of poor quality not because they’re “not competent,” but because “they’re too lazy to do it properly and because they put it off until right before it’s due only to give me skin-of-the-teeth quality work,” he said.

Finnegan said less procrastination would lead to better sleep habits, which would increase sleep hours. This, he claimed, would in turn make students more attentive during class.