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Articles / Applying to College / Application Procrastination? What to Do about It

Application Procrastination? What to Do about It

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | Nov. 18, 2014
A couple weeks ago, we passed through the November 1 ED/EA deadlines at many colleges. Now, we're looking at the traditional January 1 Regular Decision deadlines. Granted, there are variations in those deadlines. Some ED II deadlines fall after the first of the year and, of course, rolling-admission schools' deadlines fall at various times of the year.

My point here is that high school senior applicants around the world know about these deadlines and deal with them according to their personalities and local circumstances. The more obsessive applicants (or those with authoritarian-obsessive parents) have their applications (and essays) finished well ahead of time. Others, those that manage their admissions process more or less autonomously and who are motivated at the last second by deadlines, may be pulling October/December 31 all-nighters to get things done.

I recall one New Year's Eve when I was going back and forth real time with a client half a continent away, editing application essays on the fly for her Yale application. I even missed the ball drop in Times Square. She resided in a time zone an hour behind mine, so that extra hour before the midnight deadline gave her “procrastinator's license," I presume. Good thing I wasn't celebrating with champagne.

Speaking of procrastination, which is the topic of my article today, I wanted to share with you (perhaps parents, mainly) news about a tool that can help you manage procrastination, if that happens to be an unfortunate aspect of your nature. It can be a detriment not only to your college application process but also school studies and everyday life in general. Even parents are affected by procrastination. Once we get into a habit of putting things off, especially early in life, that trait seems to follow us throughout our life.

Procrastinating high school students can easily become procrastinating college students, which is not a good thing, especially if a college's curriculum is stringent and demanding. Putting off until tomorrow what you can do today is a dangerous mindset.

I received a press release the other day that describes a new tool that addresses procrastination directly. As you may know, I'm not in the habit of giving commercial product endorsements, but I found this idea appealing and intriguing, so I thought I would share it with you. Here are some highlights from that release:

A study of 1500 undergraduate students in the USA has found that 74% have suffered significant procrastination because of online distraction.

The survey undertaken by the productivity and web blocking software Stop Procrastinating (www.stopprocrastinatingapp.com) because the app has been downloaded by students at USA universities more than 12,000 times in the last three weeks in what appeared to be a final bid to fight what the students saw as a losing battle with online distraction.

Many claimed that the constant distraction from the internet through social media and websites, such as YouTube and many others, were playing havoc with their ability to concentrate for long periods of time.

– 74% of respondents claimed the level at which the internet distracted them from study was significant and worrying.

– Some 61% said they had tried to concentrate on writing an essay for more than a week only to be distracted at some point by the internet.

– 64% said they had lost their chain of thought because they checked and responded to an email or social media alert while they were trying to study.

– Some 51% said visiting distracting websites or social media cost them at least an hour a day in lost productivity or study.

– 44% said they were worried that the quality of their work was being affected by rushing work due to procrastination caused by the internet. They believe that distraction caused by the internet had caused them to hand in lower quality work which was reflect in a reduction in their grades.

– 79% of students realised that procrastination was a problem for students in the past, but believed that the internet was more invasive then anything students had to cope with before. The respondents said it could directly distract students while they were working, ie the internet existed on the computer on which they wrote or worked so it was much easier to be distracted by it.

– The survey found that only 14% said they had been distracted by the television, some claiming that because it was in a different room to where they studied it didn't distracted them. 15% said a hangover had distracted from study.

– 61% of respondents claimed the internet and social media was pernicious as it directly affected their impulse control. Unlike the TV which is passive, the internet, email and social media required attention, which could lead to hours being lost.

– 71% of the students in the study claimed that the app Stop Procrastinating was the only software that had helped them kick the internet habit in order to study. Most responded that the key reason for their increase in productivity was because the software could block them away from the internet for a set amount of time even if they rebooted the computer. They had no other option than to study.

About Stop Procrastinating:

Stop Procrastinating is an internet blocking and productivity application. It is compatible with Mac OS and Windows. It allows users the option to block the internet for a period of time in three ways, depending on how much self discipline they have.

– Option 1 allows users to block the internet for a set amount of time, but they can get back online if they reboot their computer.

– Option 2 allows users to block the internet for a set amount of time, but prevents access to the internet even if they restart their computer. They have to wait until their chosen time is up to reconnect.

– Option 3 allows users to input into a black list specific websites they wish to block, such as Facebook or Twitter, and to stay connected to the internet.

Stop Procrastinating also gives users the option to write down their works goals before disconnecting from the internet. Research has shown this to be a powerful aid to motivation. It also allows users to chart their progress over time, which helps users see how much more work they are getting done.


What's the old saying: “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come." I think this is a great idea. For any of you parents who are having trouble weening yourself away from social media (especially when you're driving!), this may be your answer.

For you students, either high school or college, you could select one of the app's settings to keep you focused for a prescribed time in the evening so that you could stay focused on your college applications or studies, or both. I especially like Option 3, which allows you to target specific Web sites, especially social media, that seem to devour so much of our time.

To prove that you are not alone in your procrastination ways, check the College Confidential discussion forum for threads that explore the ups and (mostly) downs of procrastination, such as this one. Just search for “procrastinate."

I'd like to go into more detail about this important topic, but I think I'll wait until later to do that. 🙂


Be sure to check College Confidential for all my articles related to college admissions.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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