“Procrastination is like masturbation; in the end, you’re just screwing yourself”

I this quote while I was on my study break from studying for my Political Science exam and had a great chuckle so I decided to write a blog post about it. This problem usually arises for me during midterms and finals, or whenever I have papers and projects due. It’s way too easy to use the Internet as a way of putting off difficult tasks (studying for biochem) or things I don’t feel like doing (that trip to the gym), or even things I do feel like doing but can’t somehow drag myself out of my chair to undertake (going to get dinner).

Much of my Internet time interferes with my school-related activities– Facebook, YouTube, reading the news, skyping friends, following interesting links, especially — and I honestly think it might be taking over my life. I’m also much too prone to succumb to the urge to do online research while I’m writing, rather than just making a note and moving on–which often leads to an elongated Web session and a lower word count for the day. And even when I’m not procrastinating, I fear that the multi-tasking behavior I tend to do online– checking personal email, looking at my Twitterfeed, stalking that new Facebook album from last night, all at more or less the same time–is not good for my brain. Even on, a site I like to use to clarify and explain the difficult readings, they have ads for shopping, tutorials on how to do your hair, and the ever popular “Follow us on FB and Twitter” button which would just distract me even more than I already am. 

Then, I got sidetracked again by the reading assignments under the Political Science 101 tab, but this time because I was rewriting my first political science 101 paper, so I revisited Louis Menand’s Live and Learn article from the beginning of the year and noticed that Menand highlights two theories on which matters more; the first is that only grades you achieved during your college education matter and the second is the knowledge and skills gained through college is the most important. From this, I thought, well how many other students procrastinate in college but still manage to get A’s and B’s ending their college career with a high GPA. These students have the high GPA but the process they used to achieve that (waiting until the last minute to study and end up pulling an all-nighter) is a skill that might get us through college work now, but is not a skill that should be carried over to real world jobs. But what about the students who use time management well and learn the material and do their work ahead of time, but only pass through with B’s and C’s. Their GPA just shows that they are not the ones that are trying hard in school because of their average grades.

I don’t believe looking at GPA is the correct measure employers should use to determine who they will hire. Yes, having a good GPA always makes you look smarter… if I had a 4.0, it would look so much better on my resume, but what if I had a 4.0 in General Studies but applied for an political analysis position, or such? (Not to be mean to general studies major) But surely, this 4.0 would already have an advantage over a person who received a 3.0 as an Political Science major, but the student with general studies major won’t even have a background in politics like the political science major does. Is this really fair? Once hired, what if the person with the 4.0 leave their work until the last minute, the work won’t be as good or thorough as a person who has effective time management. But as an employer, how would you determine who is a good candidate and who isn’t? Which theory of Menand’s do you support?

But on a sidenote, I really do need to fix my time management so if you also have tips that would greatly be appreciated.



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17 Comments on “Procrastination”

  1. thelenj1 Says:

    Maybe grades are not the best way to determine who an employer should hire, but what other information can they use? An employer has to evaluate potential employees somehow. I do not believe it is possible to create a scoring system that correctly can take into account both variables of intelligence and work ethic. They do have some correlation, but in the end some people are just smarter than others. If someone works very hard and only pulls off B’s and C’s, while another person barely does anything and pulls off A’s to be honest as an employer I would probably prefer to hire the student that gets the A’s. This person would probably adapt quicker to the job and be more useful than an individual that the only thing they have going for themselves is their good work ethic. If the job did not require a lot of intelligence, then maybe I would hire the less intelligent, but hard working person. I think college has become about the first theory. Especially with the importance of continuing college after the bachelor degree. The main thing that is looked at is acceptance into higher levels of college is grades or test scores. I think an ideal college would combine the two theories.

  2. jsimon99 Says:

    GPA is not the correct measure employers should use to determine who they will hire. Unfortunately that is the way our society works. I wrote a post a week ago how exams were not fair and that taking maybe one exam that determines your semester grade should determine part of your future. It just doesn’t make sense. What if I worked extremely hard on studying by getting a tutor and taking practice tests but did not do well on the exam? That does not seem fair for my GPA and how it might determine my future with my job. It is hard for an employer to determine who is a good candidate and who isn’t. As someone who might not do well on all tests, I personally would take someone who receives B’s and C’s if I know they have good work habits because I know they will be on top of their work and they will be able to manage their time well. It’s not possible to create a system to determine GPA and work ethic. Many things in life are based on luck and it is unfortunate that the job market usually takes the students with the high GPAs out of college even though they may not have great work habits.

  3. danielpienkowski Says:

    Procrastination really seems to be part of human nature. A teacher of mine once said half-jokingly, “Don’t put of anything until tomorrow if you can put it off till the day after tomorrow.” Funny enough, the majority of students I know seem to adhere to this principle, willingly or not. Just from how our brains work and function, the pleasure of short term satisfaction (e.g. watching television, playing video games, surfing the web, etc.) usually overpowers the eventual satisfaction of working on and completing a long-term assignment (e.g. starting a paper or studying for a final). Scientifically, the brain’s limbic system sends out these strong urges that gratify short term satisfaction, and is thus primarily responsible for our procrastinating from starting long-term projects. Yet usually, those who are able to exact a certain self-control, passion, and dedication in their studies can overcome this and develop good habits and patterns that lead to success in academics. Usually, a high GPA comes as a result of this outcome.

    However, I agree that one’s GPA should not be the sole factor in determining one’s ability to get a job. Although this is an important factor in the job market, I believe who you are and what you do with your education is a lot more important in the long run than your GPA. A good attitude, work ethic, and personality will get you much further in life than the grades you got in college. A high GPA does not assume that one is necessarily intelligent or will be able to prosper in real world professional situation.

  4. Jake Weimar Says:

    Grades are the best piece of information available to employers to judge potential employees. It might not in actuality be the best way, but it is the best available way to. A higher GPA usually means you are smarter, or at least more skilled at the profession you choose. So it is still an effective means of judgement. If I was giving out jobs to people the 4.0 still is smarter and better at what they do regardless of their work habits rather than the 2.9 student. There is a factor of Machiavellianism in the workplace, get results I don’t care if you put in a lot of work and thought into your project if it is still worse than the last minute project. Plus if you are a procrastinator your schedule should be filled with other resume builders to make you appear to be a better candidate for the job anyways.

  5. Brian Hall Says:

    I also have problems staying focused when in the presence of the internet, and find that I am at least twice as productive when I am nowhere near a computer. The internet is so useful as a productive tool, however, that I can never stay away for long. Often when I am studying for one of my language classes, I really need to look up a word, so any attempt at avoiding the internet is futile. In the end, it all comes down to self-control and motivation to get things done, which is the primary skill that college is supposed to be teaching.

    As much as I hate to admit it, GPA is a reasonably decent indicator of how well an individual manages their time and how hard they are willing to work. There is some degree of intelligence reflected in GPA as well, since a smarter individual will conceivably be more efficient with their time and not need to study as much overall. These two qualities are what are usually the most important an employer or grad school considers when assessing a candidate, so it is not unreasonable to assume that GPA reflects raw work ability (a messy and ambiguous combination of intelligence and work ethic). It is too difficult to assess either trait on its own, since we do not have a quantitative definition of intelligence (I.Q. is not especially valid), and it is difficult to weigh relative work ethic between candidates. The GPA, though certainly a far from perfect way of assessing candidates, is a reasonable compromise. Obviously the program you study matters too, as there is substantially more leniency granted to a Physics major than a Sociology major, for instance.

  6. scottmha Says:

    What else do employers have to pass judgements on besides grades? Sure there is past experience and recommendations but those all vary greatly and may not be the greatest indicator of a person’s success in a certain field. The education we receive is almost the only one standard basis for comparison that there is available today for job applicants. GPA is widely used and employers have to take an account that it may be the only neutral basis that allows for quantitative comparison. By neutral I mean, that the GPA we receive is solely based off of our intrinsic factors there is no way around changing your GPA, besides getting different grades (unlike a previous job which could’ve been because the applicant’s father knew someone in the profession before hand). Sure different schools vary on their difficulty level, but that is all taken into account when an employer is analyzing GPA, neutralizing the field even more. Also employers, businessmen especially, all love numbers, numbers are a big indicator of success in our world to have something that is quantitative like a GPA is so and standard around the country, makes it an obvious choice of employers to chose to determine who is fit for which job. No matter how they came about the grades they did, or who was procrastinating come finals time.

  7. verlong Says:

    I completely understand being sidetracked with things on the internet. To be honest, while reading your post and writing the comment on it, I checked my facebook/email no less than five times. It is just way too tempting not to. This is something that can be really frustrating about when teachers use online textbooks/articles (I’m not attacking this class…I promise…). Many of my teachers the past two semesters have only used online material. I appreciate that because it keeps my pocket fuller and the environment is healthier, however, I get distracted from doing the work so easily, and my eyes end up hurting after I’m done reading. Web homework for math is no better. I don’t want to do it, so why don’t I just do something that I actually enjoy instead? It’s just a click of a button away…

    Obviously we can’t always ditch our assignments to Sporcle or figure out why our friends are having a bad day, as tempting as it is. Why do we say we’re too tired to study, but we allow ourselves to go on these sites? I understand that we can’t work constantly, but we need to find a way to motivate ourselves more. I’ve talked to a couple of my friends about it, and I always say that if everyone else can get it done, why can’t we? We’ll feel better about it, and then we’ll have more time to do the things that we enjoy. The exam schedules for me this past semester have been awful, and I even ended up sacrificing a trip to the Illinois football game for studying, but I felt much better after I did so. We just have to look realistically at things, and it should help out. The problem is, many of us are used to only getting A’s in high school by doing little to no studying, and come here and it’s completely different. It’s hard to change 7 years (give or take) of bad habits. It took until I got the lowest grade of my life, and the first that I was ever ashamed of, to kick me into better study habits. However, I still procrastinate a lot (even when I tell myself I won’t).

    To answer your GPA question, I don’t think it’s a good indicator of intelligence or work done (for reasons that you mentioned and more). My dad is a teacher, and when he hires people, he only takes note of their GPA if it’s super low, but cares about everything else much. I’m also going into teaching, and I’ve talked to my advisor about this before, and she brought up a good point. She said that just because someone has a 4.0 GPA doesn’t mean that they’ll be a good teacher. It could mean that they’re a bookworm, but their comprehension of the material may not necessarily translate well into the classroom. Plus, she worked at Ross’ admissions department, and said that not everyone with a 4.0 got in. You have to be qualified to be accepted. GPA can show if someone is completely slacking, but I think it’s more important to look at the big picture than just at the number. There is a person and story attached to every number, and sometimes I think people forget that.

    Good luck with exams! Just tell yourself that if you study, you’ll be giving yourself a great present for the holiday season. 🙂

  8. bmschmid Says:

    This post highlights a trend that is very common among college and high school students. Procrastination is not an absolute killer, but it usually doesn’t allow for a student that has A quality work or ideas to receive that grade because of more minor mistakes that would have never happened if you had more time to polish over everything.

    I was just having this exact debate with my parents about next semester’s class. Do I take the route of easier class and end up with a very solid GPA at the end of the year or challenge myself and probably end up with a worse off GPA. I have always been of the school of thought that harder classes always trumps a better GPA. I took this approach in high school as well, taking AP classes over an easy and A and it worked out in my favor. Unless you are really interested in General Studies, its not worth the time and money to just get an easy A in a lackluster class. First off, you won’t learn much. College is about learning, not about building a transcript.

    I was worried about this thought and put it to the test my academic advisor. I asked him should i opt for a 4.0 or something worse off but have on my transcript challenging courses that I am generally interested in? He said that he once worked on an admissions board for a medical school and he said they would toss out candidates with 4.0s all the time because they could see an easy class schedule from a mile away.

    As an employer, of course i would glance at someones GPA, but it would really be a second or third thought.

  9. cchevat Says:

    Basically ever since I created a Facebook account I have had to deal with procrastination. What does not help my addiction is the fact that I am constantly checking the gossip columns and watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. While I do procrastinate a lot I also take my work and extracurriculars very seriously and understand when it is time to really buckle down and study. That being said I may not be a 4.0 student but I work very hard for the grades I receive. For me personally, my grades are not what define me. What defines me are all of the activities I participate in outside of classes. If I were an employer, I would look for a person who has decent grades but also shows dedication to their other activities. Just like applying to college, the job search is also looked at holistically. Yes in some cases grades may set a person apart, but that does not mean that great involvement in other things counts you out. In a way I believe that extracurricular teach you more than any class can. Since you choose your own activities, it can be a good way to determine whether a person is truly dedicated to what they do and discover what they are passionate about. The system of grades will probably never change which is definitely important to acknowledge but learning is also extremely crucial for later in life as well as it being a source of enjoyment most of the time. When you have these extracurricular it helps to put procrastination into perspective. Instead of going on twitter, you can do things to prepare for your next club meeting. This is a way to be productive in a fun and interesting way.

  10. Patrick Biondi Says:

    Procastibator seems like a fitting word to describe your quote.

    I completely understand what you mean by being sidetracked because it is an issue for me as well. Just like you I always find myself looking for something new to distract my time, especially during finals week. What I try to do is do my required work for an hour then take a ten minute break to let my brain calm down. You could always attempt to start your assignments or studying earlier so you’ll have more time to look at your favored websites. It has seemed to help me get through all my papers and studying. The internet is helpful in many ways, but in our generation it seems that we use the internet not for the purpose it was intended. I wonder if the people that work at Facebook procrastinate by looking at Facebook? I have always wondered that and if they don’t what do they look at?

    As far as applying for jobs and the employer asking for your GPA, I have heard from a couple business’ that they don’t care what your grades were or are. What they are interested in is your commitment to do your work effectively and efficiently. My dad’s friend told me not too long ago that when he interviews people for jobs he just asks them where they graduated from and how they feel they will help this company with the classes they took. So not all employers are looking for the 4.0 GPA, they are looking at more things like character and eagerness to work. Someone who always gets A’s may not work well with others in their business but the person who gets B’s or C’s might bring the desired piece of the puzzle to get the job done.

    There is not and never will be the perfect criteria for employers to go by. Each employer will use what they feel works best for their business. Grades will be brought up but I don’t think that they are as heavily looked at as people may think.

  11. mturner1013 Says:

    I do not think that grades should be the main judgement on a persons qualifications for the job. Some very smart people get very good grades, but when it comes to work, they lack the social skills to excel like some others may that didn’t receive as high as grades. I think classes in general, cannot judge your character or other useful work skills, but can just judge you how well you know the material they are teaching. I think that a lot of jobs realize this now a days. Grades do a very good job of getting your foot in the door, but during the interview, your social skills are tested. I feel that once you have been awarded an interview, or passed on paper, that grades almost become irrelevant, and it is in your own hands to make an impression on your interviewer. So although I think grades are not the most important part when judging somebody’s fit for a work place, I still think they are important to get your name out there. Because of this importance, I think in some cases the best people are not hired for a job because they are not even given a chance to make an impression because their grades weren’t good enough to secure an interview. Therefore I think that Menand’s theory that knowledge and skills that you learned during college are the most important part, I just wish that more employers would agree with that, and take some emphasis off of a students GPA.

  12. nozomigg Says:

    GPA isn’t a fantastic indicator of skill and work ethic, but unfortunately as far as academics are concerned, it’s the only one we have. Luckily, employers and admissions committees know it just as well as we do. To compensate for the lack in truth that GPA may hold, they offer us many other ways to demonstrate our strengths in the form of essays, recommendations, what not. It’s also a large part of the reason they hold interviews – to see if the applicant on paper matches the applicant in person.

    Thus, like many other commenters have mentioned, for the most part I think GPA is used as an indicator of something that employers should look into. Whether that it’s good or bad may vary, but the point is that I don’t think GPA is one that that will have that big of an effect on an employers mindset. I don’t think it’s something that will swag them for or against an applicant unless the GPA is on either side of the extremes, and it’s definitely not one of the first things that they look into. I think they’ll be able to see the hard-working ethic of a C student as long as that student does things to prove it so.

    Lastly, for your procrastination problem… if you have a Mac (idk if it works on PC’s) but there’s an app called “Self-control” that blocks any site you specify… and when I say block there’s NO way to get onto the site. You can’t stop it once you’ve started it, restarting your computer doesn’t even do anything, the only thing you can do is delete the entire app. It comes in handy for me allll the time, because there’s no way I can cheat my way onto facebook.

  13. alexwillard Says:

    I think grades work for society. I am of the belief that college is a rigorous 4 year test to prove how adept we are at certain fields of study. While I have this belief, this is not the reasoning behind my comment instead I would like to address the issue of you stating that people who wait till the last minute are not situated for the working world upon graduation. Recently I saw a 60 minute piece on Matt Stone and Trey Parker, two tony award winning producers for “The Book of Mormon” and multimillionaires form their hit-show “South Park”. When discussing how they make episodes for south park they employ a method where they start the week before and essentially work non-stop until it is finished. This style seems very much like procrastination to me but seems to work absolutely in the world. So while I do think that time management is important, at the end of the day all that matters is the quality of your work.

  14. Brandon Baxter Says:

    The thing about the University of Michigan is that they accept students based on far more than just their grades or GPA. U of M has a pretty complex admissions set-up that looked at organizations you were part of, jobs that you had, leadership experience, community service, recommendations, personal essays, and more. I’m pretty sure the school prides themselves on their ability to choose such a diverse student body, and I think that rings true in ways. I know students here were accepted and yet had below average average GPA’s and average ACT/SAT scores. I also know students who had pretty high GPA’s and ACT/SAT scores but nothing else, and because of the they were not accepted here. Brown is an Ivy League school that has a similar acceptance policy, where they do not judge people based on their scores alone, but rather their overall success. Obviously schools like Brown and Michigan are in the minority when it comes to this, but I believe there are employers out there looking for students when a little more depth than just a 4.0.

  15. maddycaroline Says:

    Sadly, GPA’s are the only way we have right now to show academic ability. You can have interviews and look at the activities of the individual, but there is not really any other way to determine their intelligence and their ability to work hard. However, to achieve a high GPA, you don’t necessarily need to be that intelligent. Hard work goes a long way, but it doesn’t determine intelligence and similarly there are some people who don’t work hard in the slightest yet receive the same grades as those who need to work extraordinarily hard in their classes. I don’t know it you have heard of the multiple intelligence theory, but it states that everyone has at least one special ability, and some have more, but there are very few who have all of them. The intelligence that is determined by schoolwork, logical or linguistic, is not held by everyone but those people are still intelligent in a different way. I don’t know of a way to test this other than determining it on one’s own, so therefore employers will not be able to see anything other than intelligence shown through one’s grades. While I believe that grades are important, I do not think that they should be the overall determining factor in deciding who should be employed. If I was an employer, I would first look at a person’s qualifications, interview them, have them in for a short trial period (to see how they interact with everyone else), and then look at their GPA but not everyone has that kind of time to make such a determination.

  16. asgersh Says:

    All a GPA can really show is the ability often to have a good memory and how good at studying you are. I know that many people work hard to get a good GPA, but often the skills one must have to be successful at a high paying job have nothing to do with the skills it takes to get a high GPA. Some of the most successful business men I know did not even finnish college. I am not saying that a college education is not important or not useful because in many aspects it is. But skills like leadership, your ability to create and maintain relationships, good judgment, and a strong character just to name a few cannot be determined by a GPA. Even though those with a high GPA from a good college will have the upper hand at getting jobs to start out with, it will be the people who poses the other qualities that will excel and stand out. I feel like the most important thing having a college degree shows is your ability to see a challenge through until the end.

  17. Karsten Smolinski Says:

    Every time someone discusses education reform the same problem comes up for me. Do I think that GPAs and standardized testing are completely accurate methods for measuring a students aptitude? No.
    However, I have also never heard anyone propose anything that sounds like it would work more efficiently. Grades are really the only way of ensuring that students do their work and preventing free riders. In the end, companies just have to hire employees based on these measures. If someone turns out to not actually be that great of a worker, then they will just have to fire them and find someone else.
    Also, a tip for studying, you should try locking yourself out of the pages you find most distracting but won’t need before doing homework. You can set a timer on the lock so will permanently stay locked until a preset time.

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