Study finds up to 95 percent of college students procrastinate

By Brennen Hubbard – bhubbard@unca.edu – Staff Writer

As deadlines approach, students say they find themselves using their time for anything but homework.

Though some are inclined to label this behavior as lazy, Leigh Whittaker, SGA president at UNC Asheville, said she disagrees.

“It’s easy to procrastinate when you’re having fun, and in college you have a lot of fun, and so it’s a lot easier to do the fun and immediate gratifications first,” Whittaker said.

Jay Cutspec, director of health and counseling at UNCA, said he agrees the issues surrounding procrastination can be simple, but recognizes there can be underlying reasons for student behavior.

“I think procrastination is also a personality trait,” he said. “The important thing is trying to figure out for any individual student what is underlying the procrastination.”

As students navigate higher education, some find themselves in leadership positions across campus. These larger workloads force students to learn new ways to cope with the stress.

According to Stephanie Watkins-Cruz, head orientation leader on the Blue Crew, students have to find balance early on.

“My procrastination comes especially when it comes to my health and taking care of myself,” Watkins-Cruz said. “As a student leader, I think it’s important to show that you can accomplish a lot, but at the end of the day, I’m still just myself. I can only do so much.”

Watkins-Cruz’s leadership spans across multiple organizations and roles. In addition to dealing with the stresses that accompany being a student, she finds small ways to motivate herself daily.

“A lot of the organizations I am in are extremely stressful at this point as a leader in all of them, but I’m passionate about the things I’m doing,” she said. “Whenever I have to deliver, I deliver.”

According to the American Psychological Association, between 80 and 95 percent of college students procrastinate on their schoolwork. Some are able to justify this behavior by claiming working under pressure is the best method for them, but according to Cutspec, this may not be the whole truth.

“There are students and people that can work under pressure and do that effectively, but to say that they work ‘better,’ I think that’s just an illusion to justify their procrastination,” he said.

Whittaker, a Raleigh native, said the pressure may be what some students need to succeed, but recognizes it may not produce the best end result.

“Creating that false sense of pressure can be good, because you’ll be less likely to hold yourself back from putting something down on paper or reading or having a really productive time,” she said. “But the problem is, when you do write a paper that quickly or write a memo for something and you don’t have time to edit, that kind of stresses me out.”

Cutspec said the No. 1 reason students procrastinate is fear of failure. There are a few ways students can effectively self-motivate. Setting small goals is a great starting point, the New York native said.

“Breaking down tasks into easy pieces, setting up rewards as you finish things, making lists,” he said.

According to Whittaker, balancing time at school can be invaluable for a student’s future in stress management.

“When you procrastinate and try to juggle that with school or a job or outside activities, it can seem overwhelming,” Whittaker said. “Procrastinating can be averted if you schedule time.”

Watkins-Cruz said the best way to avoid the effects of procrastination is to avoid procrastinating in the first place.

“If you’re gonna procrastinate, make sure that you have exhausted all of the logical options in your head before you get to option D,” she said. “Because when you procrastinate, you have to find a plan B to back up plan A that you procrastinated on in the first place.”

 

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