Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Up all night

It will stalk some students throughout their academic lives. Quietly, it will hunt them and strike when they least expect it. The fearless predator is procrastination, the bane of a college students’ existence.

If there’s a paper to be done, and channel 43 has 90210 on – and there’s a 95 percent chance that they do – it’s not getting done, said freshman Rachel Friede, sharing her methods and views on procrastination. Procrastination is the seemingly unstoppable force that for some students lurks behind every syllabus, calendar, list and good intention.

Friede explained her philosophy of mastering procrastination.

Anything above 20 pages needs two days in advance, anything else is four hours before its due, she explained. Don’t forget – procrastination needs triple-spacing, Courier New and point size 16.

So what exactly is it about this stress-inducing scourge of term papers and assignments that grips students so tightly? The answers, or lack thereof, can be found in the local procrastinators’ haven, more commonly known as J Street.

On a typical Monday evening between 7 and 8 p.m., the signs of the anti-motivational plague can be seen everywhere. Students, some with books and papers strewn about, are talking, laughing and enjoying one last nacho break before getting down to work. They seemed to have plenty of time to talk about the struggle with one’s own willpower.

Freshman Charlie Porter shared his outlook over an economics test due within the hour.

We’ve had a week to do it, and we’re doing it now, he said. I’m a great procrastinator. I procrastinate on pretty much everything. Some call it laziness, I prefer to use kinder words for it, like `there are better things to do.’

But there is hope for procrastinators. Some students said they have overcome procrastination or avoid it altogether. Junior Chad Frischman calmly sipped a cup of coffee amid the stressful frenzy around him in the dining room.

I don’t procrastinate, he said. I do everything I can a week in advance, it gives me time to fix things. Look at me, do I look stressed?

Frischman’s advice to procrastinators of the world is, get off the couch, do some work, he said.

Professor Ingrid Creppell, who teaches in the political science department, said the effects of procrastination on assignments are noticeable.

You can tell if somebody has thought a lot about something, she said.

Creppell explained that students who come to her before a paper deadline can work their thoughts out beforehand, instead of turning toward a blank computer screen an hour before class.

When they talk to me, it gives them the opportunity to get their ideas into words, and that helps, she said. Creppell mentioned poor sentence structure and writing resembling stream-of-consciousness writing as signs of last-minute preparation.

The causes of the procrastination remain a mystery to many.

I honestly think that I have some kind of problem, freshman Max Gustashaw said. I had set aside time, I had told people I had to work on it, I went by myself to work on it. There’s just something that prohibits me from starting anything before 11.

A lot of students have a lot of pressures that aren’t academic pressures, Creppell said. Sometimes people just can’t make themselves work unless they have an external deadline.

Friede warned about the pitfalls of the most ingenious procrastination schemes. She suggested leaving at least a half hour before an assignment is due to address hidden snares inevitable even in the most perfectly laid, albeit hasty, plans.

You’ve procrastinated, you now have a computer problem, she said. You need 30 minutes to find a new printer cartridge or fix a crashed disk.

She extolled the merits of proper advance preparation.

Realize that it helps that you think better when you’re not panicking about a deadline, she said. Your thoughts are more logical. It also really makes a big difference if I can tell a student has read a paper before turning it in.

But some remain steadfast in not doing today what they can put off until tomorrow.

It’s my system forever, Friede said. I will never give up procrastination, because that’s when all the fun stuff gets done – while you’re procrastinating.

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