Motivation and Procrastination in College

Are you a chronic procrastinator?

Just about all students procrastinate. What matters is the level of procrastination. A student taking a full course load can only slack so much or else risk the consequences of poor performance and possibly lower grades. Procrastination can get so intense that it can cause a student to drop out of school or be placed on academic probation.

What causes procrastination?

  • The student is not challenged enough.
  • There is boredom of the subject.
  • There are better or more entertaining things to do.
  • Being too tired.
  • Being overworked.
  • Getting sidetrack by other hobbies: video games, sports, etc.

It may be hard to get started on that essay or paper that may be due a week down the road. Many students can write a quality paper the night before and get away with it. What happens though is all the conflicting deadlines and homework come crashing in on the student causing a poorer quality of work, lack of sleep and falling grades. Let's not forget the stress that comes with all these deadlines...maybe another reason we choose to slack off: it feels good to relax and take a break.

One way to combat this illness is to create a schedule and have better time management. There are many online tools that can help you with this, or you can be old fashioned and just grab a pen and paper and make your own to-do list. With everything on a computer now days, I actually find it more effective to make a list this way (pen and paper), so you have something physically in front of you reminding you of what needs to get done.

Besides the paper that is due a week down the road, the other homework that is easy to slack on is required reading. Many students can and do actually get away without reading textbooks and still manage to pull a decent grade out of class. Sometimes the required reading can be way too overwhelming, especially if required in multiple classes. When reading, the mind can easily wander and get side tracked with other thoughts, unlike when you are writing and engaged in critical thinking and creativity.


Sometimes getting past procrastinating is as simple as saying "no". Say no to that ballgame, that party, that date, intramural sports and other activities on the days you need to get work done. It’s important to focus when doing work in your study environment. If you need to play music and drink energy drinks to survive, then so be it. It’s not really good to try and do it all in one night. If you try to absorb everything, you will be overwhelmed by information overload - another cause of procrastination. Some people are more effective at doing their work at certain times of the day. For some it’s the middle of the day and for most procrastinators or night owls it’s between midnight and 2 in the morning. Find when you are the most effective and set aside this time for studying. For when you are at your best, focused and attentive, your work will show it.