TV Trumps Homework for U Students


Cole Tan

(Photo by Cole Tan)


(Photo by Cole Tan)
(Photo by Cole Tan)

Despite good intentions, “spring fever” has U students on a procrastination kick.

It usually happens this time of the semester. Students convince themselves that they can write a 10-page paper in a day or cram for a midterm the night before. For Alex Butler, a senior in anthropology, as she’s gotten closer to graduation her procrastination has worsened.


“We are just ready to be done,” Butler said. “After this many years in school, we’ve learned how far we can push the envelope and still get our work done in time.”

The question is not whether students can finish their work, but rather what quality of work is produced under pressure. According to a study by Joseph Ferrari of DePaul University in Chicago, 20 percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. Through his research, Ferrari discovered that procrastination often stems from a fear of failure, which causes an individual to avoid an assignment.

Ferrari also found that those who procrastinate often are more likely to abuse alcohol, develop higher rates of insomnia and have weakened immune systems.

Arissa Barrowes, a sophomore in sociology, said not procrastinating was one of her New Year’s resolutions. But she said it fell through sooner than she intended.

“I had such high hopes that I would stay ahead of the syllabus in all my classes,” she said. “Then I realized that my Hulu queue was building up, and I’d rather watch the episodes of ‘Revenge’ I missed instead of reading the 60 pages of reading I had.”

Barrowes is not alone in this. Since “Friends” was added to Netflix at the beginning of the semester, others have fallen into a similar pattern.

“You can’t not watch it,” Butler said. “Ross and Rachel will drag you in every time.”

The Journal of Current Directions in Psychological Science addressed procrastination and provided behavior techniques to help change the cycle in a paper by Roy Baumeister. Baumeister said one way to gain more willpower is to exert small moments of self-control, such as make your bed every morning instead of turning on the TV.

“I’d like to say that I’m going to be better the rest of the semester, but I need to be realistic,” Barrowes said. “The fact is, the work will get done, but in the meantime I will probably be hanging out watching the new season of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ ”

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