“Procrastination is part of my life,” Maria Carrillo High senior Richard Liang admitted.
Enrolled in five AP classes, swimming three hours a day after school and involved in a myriad extra-curricular activities, Liang’s plate is full. Yet, on a night when a homework assignment is due the next day, he spends a few hours surfing YouTube and messaging friends on Facebook before starting his work.
Liang is part of the estimated 80 to 90 percent of American high school students who set aside their homework for other activities and set it aside to do the night before or the morning of the due date, according to experts at
According to the blog of psychologist Carl Pickhardt, there are two types of procrastination.
“Type one is resistant procrastination when delay results in putting a task off until the last minute before finally getting it done,” he said.
“Type two is refusal procrastination when delay results in the task being put on permanent hold and it never gets done. It is ‘type one’ procrastination that most people struggle with, and it is expensive.”
Pickhardt added that procrastination is rooted “partly in early adolescence when active and passive resistance to parental authority to begin the separation from childhood.”
Despite Maria Carrillo’s block schedule that allows students at least an entire day between assignment and due date to complete homework, the bulk of this time is spent procrastinating. Some have taken this rationale to a point where they put free time a higher priority than schoolwork itself.
“I know I shouldn’t be doing it, but the impulse just takes over. If there’s free time available, I would just to chill and would rather do my homework the night before,” junior James Pierpoint said.
While some have legitimate excuses, such as being sick, injured or too busy to finish their assignments on the night before or morning of the due date, others spend their time every day to go on Facebook, watch YouTube videos or just do nothing.
Teachers also have noticed this trend and have their own rationales regarding the issue of procrastination at Maria Carrillo.
“I think students at Carrillo view procrastination as a necessary approach to school, and this is unfortunate,” English Department head Paul Vanek said.
In recent years, procrastination has become easier as many students have turned to the internet to sustain their delay-and-denial lifestyles. Google Translate enables students to do Spanish or French homework without studying the vocabulary. Wikipedia has become a last-minute source for research projects and Sparknotes, a website containing detailed summaries and analyses of high school literature, allows students to spoil their English class reading by helping them bypass actually reading their assigned books.
“Procrastination can lead to emotional and physical costs of stress: Fatigue, discomfort, burnout, even breakdown. In late adolescence, procrastination can really hamper the efforts of college age young people and can carry on into adulthood,” Pickhardt said.
While procrastination is a characteristic shared by Maria Carrillo students, many also agree it is not a healthy lifestyle.
“I think it’s a horrible way to study. I can get really stressed because I always let other things get in the way of things that I should be doing,” sophomore Ali Schwartz said.
Senior Chris Shanahan added, “It’s an inescapable whirlpool. Once you get in, you can’t get out.””
The experts at offer a solution: “Successful students know how to budget their time wisely, something that actually takes time and practice to learn properly. Getting an assignment done early relieves stress and anxiety, so how does a student conquer procrastination? Willpower and discipline.”
Yet, in this digital age and available plethora of distractions for students in today’s society, it seems that eliminating procrastination in students’ lives is impossible.
Procrastination “is something you can prevent,” junior Zak Leever said. “I wish I could get rid of it completely, but I think that’s impossible.”