Fighting the ‘thief of time’

Anthony Holloway

Workshop can help students stay on track

Accounting lecturer Don McFall sees procrastination as “one of the biggest problems that college students have.”

He isn’t the only one.

Senior electronic media major Tim Austin said he spends close to three hours starting on an assignment.

“I sit down to start an assignment, setting aside books, then I go clean something,” Austin said. “Then I will turn on my computer and go to my e-mail.”

The Kent State University Counseling and Human Development Center is trying to make a difference by urging students to sign up for a workshop that is taking a pro-active stance against procrastination.

Anton Allensworth, a graduate student majoring in counseling, is one of the several graduate students who will help lead the workshops. Allensworth agreed with McFall and said that students are very susceptible to procrastination.

“The fact is that 75 to 90 percent of chronic procrastinators are students,” Allensworth said.

Allensworth said the workshops are opportunities for students to pro-actively confront procrastination by helping them understand procrastination better and also build better study habits.

In addition to studying habits, Allensworth said that another goal of the workshops is to stop students with procrastinating upon more personal goals, such as cleaning their room.

The workshops are open for students to join at any point during the semester, but Allensworth said he wants to express to students that the earlier they join the better.

“We would like to introduce this information to students as early in the semester as possible, so that there is a higher probability of success,” Allensworth said.

Kent State University is among the infected when it comes to procrastination. Both students and professors admit that procrastination is something that can easily become a stress-inducing habit.

Kelsey McConnell, sophomore early childhood education major, said it is sometimes an obstacle when she is trying to get work done.

“Last semester when I had a portfolio due for College Writing II,” McConnell said, “I started to do a little work a couple of days in advance, but I put off finishing it until the night before.”

McConnell said some of her strategies to avoid extreme procrastination help a little when she is trying to complete a task.

“I try to manage my time better and finish assignments as soon as I get them,” McConnell said. ” Even if I only do a little bit of work at a time, it might still stack up, but at least I have a little done.”

Procrastination is not only seen at the student level, though. It is nothing foreign to faculty members. English instructor Uma Krishnan said she comes across the effects of procrastination in her class.

“There are some people who think that they need to wait until the last minute to get an assignment done,” Krishnan said. “I need to tell them the due date of the assignment is sooner than it is.”

Krishnan said she tries to encourage her students to get used to turning in assignments on time. She said she wants students to be ready for what the “real world” will expect of them.

“Procrastination is a liability in life,” Krishnan said. “People, as they start going into the workforce, employers develop trust, and if you can’t be on time then they won’t trust you to do your work.”

McFall said he notices that when students don’t keep up with course work that it hurts them in the long run. In his class, he said he tries to encourage students to get assignments done early, and he controls the size of assignments.

“I make assignment due dates really early,” McFall said. “And I also try giving small bits of homework.”

While some faculty members are familiar with the effects of procrastination in their classroom, political science instructor Giles Falinski said he is “a reformed procrastinator” himself.

“It increases stress when you don’t have a lesson plan done until the last minute,” Falinski said.

Falinski said procrastinating, in his work especially, causes stress for his family in addition for himself.

“I have to tell them ‘I can’t do that tonight because I have to get ready for class tomorrow,'” Falinski said. “The bigger of a stress that it becomes, at some point you can’t function correctly because you have all your energy put into keeping up.”

Falinski said he tries to deter students from procrastinating by breaking an assignment into different parts.

Procrastination has grown into a bigger problem in recent years.

In a 2007 USA Today article, University of Calgary professor Piers Steel said that through a study, he found that 26 percent of the American public considered themselves to be chronic procrastinators, which is up from 5 percent in 1978.

Contact news correspondent Anthony Holloway at [email protected].