How Can My Student Avoid Procrastination?

As the clock ticks through the early hours of morn, students across campus can be found hovered over their laptops writing term papers or cramming for tests. Bleary and red-eyed, they'll soon stagger off to classes with coffee in hand.

While most students have good intention to employ time management and study skill techniques as a way to avoid dreaded all-nighters, these can be easily forgotten once a hectic semester gets underway.

Procrastination—the bane of college students—can interfere with academic, co-curricular and personal success.  In addition, it can lead to feelings of guilt, depression, self-doubt and other psychological conditions as well as produce unwanted physical effects that include unhealthy sleeping and eating habits.

It is estimated that 90 percent of college students procrastinate, of which 25 percent have chronic tendencies.  And while some students believe they do their best work under pressure, statistics show otherwise.

Why Students Procrastinate

  • Poor time management and prioritizing of tasks are common errors that come from a lack of awareness in using one's time effectively and/or having the discipline to forgo social activities for coursework-related ones.

  • Fear and anxiety are often underlying reasons that go unexpressed by a student.  He/she may feel overwhelmed, under confident and/or anxious about an upcoming term paper, project or test due to concerns about getting a poor grade or having an adequate skill level.

  • Restlessness and trouble concentrating can result from boredom about doing the task as well as daydreaming and focusing on personal, social or academic concerns.

  • Perfectionism manifests itself when a student becomes overly focused on a project, paper or test and sets unrealistic expectations and/or standards for success.

Avoiding Procrastination

As a parent, you may want to offer the following suggestions as a way to help your student foster good study habits:

  • Do incremental aspects of the workload consistently and daily.  Whether it involves reading, studying for a test or working on a project, doing a little bit each day can make a big difference with regard to staying on track. 

  • Eliminate distractions (whether they are people, technology or environment related).  Finding a place conducive to studying can help a student avoid the temptation to talk with others, text and/or engage in other distracting activities.

  • Be realistic in terms of goal setting and dismiss any self-defeating thoughts that may come from stress overload.  Fear, anxiety and perfectionism can weigh a student down.  If these conditions persist or become overwhelming, a student can benefit from visiting Counseling Services and/or the Learning Center for assistance.

  • Little rewards motivate.  Taking a 10-minute break every hour to go for a walk, visit with a friend or go online can help a student feel mentally and physically refreshed during grueling study sessions.


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