With only three weeks left until summer, the school year is winding down and students are frantically finishing work that built up over the whole class semester before vacation begins on June 10.
Typically, student procrastination does not occur to the degree it has this year.
Students might wait to start an assignment when they get home, after they grab a snack or take an after-school power nap. In extreme cases, a student might wait until the day something is due, staying up into the early hours of the morning to reach the required word count on an essay or finish a math assignment they should have completed earlier instead of binging a new TV show.
This year, however, the chronic procrastinators are having a heyday in the new virtual environment. With the ability to turn your homework in at midnight via google classroom, students are doing just that and enjoying the rest of their day doing nothing. Some students have even “cheated the system” and designed new ways to complete assignments for full points weeks after they are due, for example, by faking a glitch.
Henry Wilson is a freshman at Sunshine High School and both a self-proclaimed chronic procrastinator and gamer. During the first semester, Wilson was an average student, procrastinating only for reasonable periods of time. However, things began to change for him when the new edition of Terror and Evolution released on the Xbox; he was immediately hooked.
“The day Terror and Evolution came out, my friends invited me over for the afternoon to play together. At first, it was supposed to just be for the afternoon– I had an essay due the next morning that I had yet to start– but then I ended up staying for dinner and before you know it, I was up until three a.m. having a sleepover. I ended up lying about a glitch in google classroom not uploading my homework and doing the assignment the next night.”
This occurrence was just the first of many times Henry used that excuse to procrastinate on homework. He used it again a few weeks later in math class, and then again when he had to turn in a slideshow for social studies but decided to go to a water park instead.
“What I thought was going to be a one-time thing turned into a habit I couldn’t break,” said Wilson in an interview. “I just kept waiting and waiting until eventually weeks of homework piled up on my desk and I just wasn’t doing it. The piles of homework were a bit of a mess, other than that, procrastinating was pretty great. I never felt less stressed than when I wasn’t doing my assignments. All the time I usually spent on school I could now use on doing fun stuff. I learned to play the guitar, started a trash bin basketball league with unfinished assignments and most importantly played hours of Terror and Evolution.”
Wilson’s fun came to an end when his teacher sent him an email regarding his nonexistent grade in her class.
“Dear Mr. Wilson, I hope you are aware of your current lack of a grade in my class. Because it was caused by technological difficulties, I am giving you until the end of the year to complete all missing assignments,” wrote his English teacher, Mr. White.
“I never thought that my actions might have repercussions but turns out they do,” said Wilson. “I calculated the amount of time it will take me to finish the assignments and figured out if I start within the next week, I can finish before the due date– that is if I don’t sleep, eat, or go outside for more than five minute periods until I finish. Of course, if I cut out the time outside I can probably start the work tomorrow afternoon and play a few more hours of video games in the meantime.”
Mr. Smith is a long-time teacher at Sunshine High School. Teaching high school freshmen, he is no stranger to students procrastinating until dangerously close to the due date, but this year is nothing like he has ever seen before.
“Usually students procrastinate a little bit in class; they joke around with each other, they snack instead of writing or goof around while doing group work, but this year students have taken procrastination to a whole new level. It’s not like I blame them for not wanting to do the work, personally I wouldn’t want to either, and honestly it’s probably better that they don’t. Students have a unique opportunity this year to sleep in, take absurdly long lunch breaks and play on their phone in class whenever they want, so why should they pass up that once-in-a-lifetime chance?”
While not every student has procrastinated to the same degree as Wilson, all of us can agree there are many unique opportunities this year, and the way people handle these opportunities is up to them to decide–eventually.