Three Types of Students- from the eyes of a procrastinator

Technology and Policy Program

After seventeen years of being a student at three different schools, in three different countries. I have come to the resounding conclusion that students can more or less be placed into three categories based on how they procrastinate: the always-overachiever, the workaholic socialite, and the surprisingly competent bare-minimalist.   

While being taught to read and write in elementary school, Turkish schools would almost exclusively only use three names. As teenagers, my friends and I got into the habit of bringing these fictitious characters to life through one too many jokes. In keeping with tradition, I have decided to use those names as pseudonyms for the three different students: Ayşe, Ali, and Oya.

Ayşe is the Roger Federer of students. Elegant and pristine, she makes studying look easy. Never really understanding why people procrastinate, she gets her work done whenever and wherever she needs to. Even more impressive is the list of extracurricular activities that accompany her straight-A reputation. She likely plays one sport and an instrument. Maybe she even paints. She sleeps at regular hours and subsequently does not spend her entire life on campus, in a library, or in the local coffee-shop. She has the perfect school-life balance. If her workload is too much for her perfectly crafted week, she will act responsibly and drop the extra load to reach her perfect equilibrium again. She is what most students strive to be.

Ali is the total opposite. He is addicted to the adrenaline that completing work at the last minute guarantees him. His second home is the library and his semester is jam-packed. He has no control over how much he procrastinates on a given day, but his productivity skyrockets when deliverables pile up. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do any better at a more manageable workload; he might even do worse. As soon as he’s caught up, he decides to procrastinate, justifying his decision to do so with a reasoning like: “I deserve a break” or “I’ll be more productive after I go out tonight." Most of the time, I am an Ali. Incapable at getting substantial work done during the holidays he (or I) will spend ridiculous amounts of hours in the library, sleeping on the table if need be. And maybe one or two occasions, he will start his day around 11:00 pm and roll out of campus around 3:00 pm. I wouldn’t say he is exactly the healthiest, but he gets work done and is excellent at dealing with stress.

Oya is different from Ayşe and Ali. She is either struggling to find motivation as a student, or just spends too much time socializing. Maybe she doesn’t enjoy her major, or she is going through some personal issues. She is dragging her feet through the minimum requirements. Every time she tries to be productive, she finds some way to procrastinate. Except, unlike Ali, she doesn’t find motivation through stress. She lets the deadlines pass. Or instead, puts in the bare minimum.

While I do self-identify most with Ali, I have always longed to have Ayşe’s work ethic. But at some point, or another, I have taken the identity of all three.

The reality is that no one is constrained to one of these personalities at any given time. I have been an Ali in some classes, a Oya in others, and rarely, an Ayşe. Going through periods when you find it difficult to be productive, from my experience, is normal. I think it is important to remember that it is temporary. It is not easy by any means to get back into the groove of things (and sometimes not totally in your control), but it is nonetheless possible.