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June 23
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I Could Do It

Examining Procrastination

A cadet comes home, it’s been a long day. He sets his stuff down and heads to his bedroom to change to get out of his uniform. After getting into something more comfortable, he heads to the kitchen to search for something to eat. The cadet looks at the options while he thinks about what he needs to do before bed. After spending way too much time finding food, the cadet sits down and pulls out his phone. He eats while scrolling through his preferred version of social media. The entire time he knows that there are 100 different ways that he could spend his time but instead he sits there thinking about better things to do. Hours pass, nothing happens. Soon it’s time for bed, the weight of all the things he should have done being his last thoughts before sleep.

What is Procrastination

Everyone is familiar with procrastination, even highly active people. It’s in our nature to want to do pleasurable things instead of things that seem hard or tedious. defines it as “to be slow or late about doing something that should be done”. It varies widely but when it comes to UMA academic procrastination is our biggest challenge. This is obvious from all the systems that the school has implemented like the eligibility list to our recent dress down day for people with good grades. Academic procrastination is delaying to the last second or even turning in assessments late habitually. According to a 2007 analysis around 80% to 95% of college students procrastinate. The rate is even higher among high school students.

The effects of procrastination

As I’m sure many know, procrastination leads to poor performance in academics along with stress. Procrastinators typically end up cramming unhealthily when deadlines are almost here and this has been shown to have a very negative affect on students’ minds. Studies have shown potential links to anxiety, depression, and suicide from academic procrastination. This is extremely important as most students see grades as a direct comparison for their usefulness and potential success for life. In my own experience, the amount of times I have heard from people saying that my grades suck anyways so why try to shoot for my dreams is honestly terrifying. The major thing is that it is not hopeless. Many people have their own personal methods for managing procrastination and helping students to find those personal methods is vital to the health of their grades.

For Cadets

I have some recommendations for cadets. Think back to times when you had success in doing your homework. In those situations, think about what factors motivate you to work on it. Find those things that help and then replicate them. Whether it’s music, a certain room, or even a snack that you enjoy. Finding those will help you actually get started. Another tip is to just start, I know that’s not very helpful but it’s usually the hardest part. Once you get started it seems to lead from there. You can attempt to say things like “I’m just going to work on it for 10 minutes” or “I’ll do one assignment”. This can give you a start and once you’ve started it will be much easier to get the willpower to continue. Another strategy is to stay away from the distractions and put them away. It’s a lot easier to say than do but it could be as simple as not going to a certain app or area in your house. Finding small easy things to help is the best way to become better at actually accomplishing the thing you are putting off.

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For Teachers

For teachers I would also recommend some things. As much as my fellow students will hate me, adding stricter deadlines does help some procrastinators to actually work. Give them a week and they’ll wait until the last day. Give them a day and they’re much more likely to work on it right away. Another thing is to be consistent and simple with deadlines. A good example of something that I think is very unclear and unnecessarily complicated is the eligibility list. Make the day that grades are pulled and when they go into effect be the same. This will both simplify and prevent situations where cadets feel like they have been punished for nothing. I know I’m not the only one who has had their grades fixed over the weekend or even on Friday but because the eligibility list has been pulled they are out of luck until the week after that on monday.

Finally I would recommend being careful with incentives that end up singling out those with bad grades. They need to exist but it is a delicate balance. The dress down day we had while was great for those with good grades; the ones who wore blues were the targets of mockery and teasing. This is bound to happen with any social climate and is even motivation for some but for others it just makes their mindset worse. It’s a difficult situation that has no good answer and the benefits and drawbacks need to be considered. Having a middle ground or a reward for making progress could be a good way to assist in both issues.



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