As August comes to an end, students everywhere prepare for the inevitable: a new semester. It’s seen as an opportunity to start over. By buying overpriced pens, notebooks, iPads, and other gadgets, they prepare for what they hope will be a better school year. More importantly, they set goals. This year, these students will be exemplary students. Gone will be the all-nighters and cramming sessions. Or will they?
The truth is that people’s old habits will soon return. Once midterms come around, students may find themselves watching an entire season of Breaking Bad instead of working on their Reli 300 papers, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some students’ bad habits, like procrastination, for example, may not be as black and white as they seem. Other seemingly good habits, like the ability to study all day, may not be any better. When it comes to school, extremes are never the solution. The trick is to balance studying with social lives and hobbies, (like catching up on Breaking Bad).
According to a study entitled “Coping with employee, family, and student roles: evidence of dispositional conflict and facilitation tendencies,” done by Julie McCarthy of the University of Toronto and Tracy Hecht of Concordia University, constantly studying can cause issues like stress and over-exhaustion, and procrastinating a little can help with those issues.
McCarthy and Hecht looked at three study methods used by students: solution-driven active engagement (problem-focused), venting to others (emotion-focused) or ignoring those problems altogether and distracting ourselves with other activities (avoidance-focused).
The conclusion was that, when participants procrastinated for a while and forgot about their issues, they had an easier time balancing their workload. “This technique is traditionally seen as ‘running away from your problems’,” McCarthy said, in an article published by the University of Toronto, March 29, 2011.“But maybe by backing-off and taking breaks, students are able to replenish their resources.”
Students should not throw their books to the side just yet. It’s important to note that it’s all about balance.
Another study, entitled “Relationship between procrastination and academic performance,” was performed among a group of undergraduate dental students in India. Results showed what many people naturally deduce through their own experiences; procrastination leads to lower grades.
Overall, it’s all about balance. A little break from a demanding assignment can help with stress levels, but an excessively long break can lead to grades that are below average. As McCarthy said, “People need time to refocus in order to learn or study well.”