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Active Procrastination as a Viable Method of Studying for University Students

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The goal of this research essay is to find university students’ motivation to push everything to the last minute, how it affects the learning and grades of students and if Active Procrastination is a problem-based strategy of learning and if it works in every situation. When students procrastinate, they divert time from academics toward other activities, returning to academics at a later time. Academic procrastination is a familiar example: assignments may be handed in on time yet procrastination is deemed to have occurred since much of the work was accomplished at the eleventh hour. But can delaying enough of the effort to such a point as the discomfort of all-nighters, really be rational? A student could work at a steady pace, but a procrastinator builds up her workload, putting off more work until near the deadline, even at the cost of having little or no leisure left at that point. This essay will focus on the students’ need to push everything to the last minute and then finish off everything right before the deadline or not meet the deadline at all.

Active Procrastination describes the behaviour of students who prefer to work under pressure, choose to postpone assigned work, complete requirements by deadlines, and still attain satisfactory grades. With the coming of the internet, information that would otherwise require a lot of searching and scouting and would otherwise consume a lot of time becomes easier to access. The current generation of University students know the internet almost as well as they know how to breathe. The students know where and how to get the information and although, it creates a huge problem of Plagiarism sometimes, it’s overall a fairly viable method of gaining information to get the marks you need. The students are not interested in learning, they are interested in the highest grades with minimal effort. According to a report by the U.S department of Education 94% of the students use the internet for scholarly research which goes on to show how important the internet has become in terms of acquiring information, mainly because it is fast, easy and quick, giving millions of answers in seconds which generally sets up a mindset of if something can be found in minutes why waste more than what is necessary?

Today’s opportunities are clear while tomorrows are vague, making ‘the today’ seem more pressing. With a salience cost of acting today, and none attributed to tomorrow, one always wants to postpone action. For this set of students since the information is already there, time becomes a fickle concept where ‘the now’ is more important. A lot of students actually believe that they work better under Pressure. This mainly focuses on Active Procrastinators as compared to passive, which is avoidant or maladaptive in nature They may start writing a paper the night before it is due but would engage in the activity not as a last resort but with the anticipation of staying focused, meeting assignment expectations, and achieving the desired grade in a minimal amount of time. And although Active Procrastination has been proved to be connected to high grades, life satisfaction and Self-reported cumulative GPA for students at 3 Canadian Universities, Corkin et al. expressed concern, about negative correlations with students’ motivation for learning.

In an interview-based study in Germany, the aspect of working under pressure emerged as a theme for students. These students considered themselves successful procrastinators and findings revealed various benefits of Procrastination, including, heightened creativity and the opportunity to reflect on a topic before working on it. However, one student also said, in one of the studies, “you’ve just got to tell yourself that Procrastination is the right thing to do even though you know it isn’t” which suggests that Active Procrastination isn’t entirely positive. The preponderance of evidence characterizes cramming as ineffective, yet it is difficult to ignore students’ descriptions of working well under pressure.

Moreover, there is also the problem of choice. The current population of students at university is all millennial, which is also the first generation born in the land of internet. Their home is the internet which influences the way they interact with the real world. They know everything about everything in a superficial way. Everything you need is a Google search away and the amount of information available is sky rocketing and with too much information comes too much choice which inevitably stops the student from starting anything mainly because, where does one start? Sometimes there is so much to say that one just doesn’t understand where to start and where to stop which leads to the cycle of pushing the work away in hopes of figuring it out eventually, calling back on Akerlof’s study that the Now is more important than the future.

In conclusion, for the longest time Procrastination has been considered to reflect motivational struggles and harms students academically. However, with the coming of the new generation of students whose reasons and motivation behind education acquisition are completely different from their predecessors it is necessary to note that Procrastination is an easy and often times balancing way of handling academic as well as social deadlines. Active Procrastination appears to be both Contradictory and commonplace because even though it is connected with high grades it is not connected with high learning. But the new millennial generation does not have a desire to learn. The new generation is interested in the degree and the grades with minimal effort. The goals have changed and clearly so have the methods but these methods only work with a deadline. Without a deadline the successful procrastinator is a sitting duck waiting for the pressure to come which inevitably never does because the pressure and the deadline are directly related one doesn’t simply exist without the other and without a deadline the procrastinator never does anything.


  1. Akerlof, George A. (1991) “Procrastination and obedience,” American Economic Review. 81(2), 1-19
  2. Chu C.H.S. & Choi N.J. (2005). “Rethinking Procrastination: Positive effects of “Active” Procrastination Behaviour on Attitudes and Performances. The Journal of social psychology, 145(3), 245-264.
  3. Corkin D., Yu L.S., Lindt S. (2011). Comparing active delay and procrastination from a self- regulated learning prospective. Learning and Individual differences,21(5),602-606.
  4. Fischer C. (1999). Read this paper later: Procrastination with time-consistent preferences. Washington: Resources for the future.
  5. Hensley, C.L. (2016). The Draws and Drawbacks of College Students’ Active Procrastination. Journal of College Student Development.57(4),465-471.
  6. Rezvani,S. & Monahan K. (2017). Millennial Mindset: Work Styles and aspirations of millennials. United Kingdom: Deloitte Greenhouse.
  7. Taylor, A. (2012). A Study of the information search behaviour of the millennial generation. Rider University, New Jersey: Information Research.
  8. Yonekura, F. (2006). A Study of Millennial Students and their Reactive behavior patterns in the online environment. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida.

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