Does procrastination cause only worse grades?

Students will oftentimes wait until the last minute or “11th hour” to finish up a paper, study, or even write a blog post; why is that? Katrin, Axel, and Sebastian would lead us to believe that students procrastinate for a myriad of reasons, including: social relatedness, task competence, lack of motivation by the student, and even volitional control. It becomes easier to understand when you factor in catching up on your favorite Netflix/Hulu show versus a 10-page paper. Given the combination of possible internal and external factors, procrastination is relatively easy; it is actually doing the work that is the seemingly harder of the two choices. But, will that student necessarily receive a lower grade or score on the paper than if he/she had not procrastinated in writing it to finish the season of Grey’s Anatomy or Gilmore Girls?After talking with another student in this class, I stumbled upon this study that talks a little more about the actual science behind students who don’t procrastinate getting better grades than their procrastinating counterparts.

Diana and Roy argue that procrastination can be both good and bad depending on when it occurs. For example, in the beginning of the semester, procrastinators would have lower stress levels and less likely to become ill. As the semester continues, however, procrastination may become more of a catalyst for sickness and stress to become active within a student. A good example of which could be a student who didn’t do Blog Period 1 at all (perhaps the easiest of the three in SC200), had a subpar performance in Blog Period 2, and waiting until the final week of Blog Period 3 to try and salvage a decent Blogging grade for the class. In this example, the student will be under more pressure and stress to finish the blogs (and comments) that self-care initiatives like eating right and proper sleep will be substituted by late nights and junk foods accompanied by the occasional cup of coffee. This will make it much easier for the student in question to have higher levels of stress, anxiety, and malnutrition in a race to finish all the work required before the deadline, which can cause sickness to set in from a weakened immune system (as described in sections 2.5 and 2.6 here).

Image result for procrastination

There are both costs and benefits to procrastination. Non-procrastinators obviously have more time to work on their projects and assignments, get feedback, tweak drafts, etc; they also exert more energy on one assignment when the likely scenario is that a full time student has more assignments in other courses (and extracurricular) that portions of that same energy can be devoted to. However, procrastination offers a chance for the student in question to focus their efforts and energy on a singular assignment with a healthy amount of pressure to be productive; at the same time, they are more susceptible to self-harm that could have been avoided in the process of producing one assignment for one course. There is a negative correlation between procrastination and grades of the assignment; procrastination also can cause the student to suffer from negative outcomes manifesting in their health. Most students who procrastinate will suffer a decrease in their grade on the assignment relative to their non-procrastinating counterparts who completed the assignment.

In conclusion, stress is good for a college student to be successful and productive with their course work, but too much stress can cause longer lasting problems for the individual that a few points off a paper or turning in an assignment a few minutes late. Procrastination seems to be a means of achieving benefits in the short term at the expense of long term costs. Heightened stress, lowered morale, frustration, and anger onset are all possibilities of procrastination outside of the grading. If given the option to do an assignment for a class sooner rather than later, it is in the best interest of the student to do it sooner because procrastination not only will likely lower their grade for the assignment, but their health may take a hit as well. Most students will agree that higher grades and living stress free are better than the alternative.

4 thoughts on “Does procrastination cause only worse grades?

  1. Rebecca Jordan Polaha

    This can not be more relevant to me. When you brought up the point where procrastinators are more likely to eat junk food and have caffeine, I laughed because that’s exactly what I am doing right now! I never thought there would be positive aspects to procrastinating, but I definitely learned something new today. I just wished you had a study or experiment that I can base my opinion off of that showed me some statistics. Other than that, very well thought out post!

    1. Anthony Mitchell Post author

      Thanks, I figured it was so applicable to so many of us as college students. Procrastination is an interesting phenomena about how people choose to spend their time when they know they have better/more important things that they could be doing with their time. Yet, we will put the more important things on the “back burner” and fill our minds with the things that don’t really have much of an impact in the long run. Here is a nice video that can help explain some of the links in my post a little better and offer those stats you were looking for:

      Hope that helps you out a little Rebecca! 🙂

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