If you procrastinate long enough…


We’ll begin today’s discussion with a gripe.  Some of you have heard parts of it before.  I am enrolled in four subjects this semester.  Two are great, they’re fun, I understand them, and they’re relevant.  One is OK, not so fun, and semi-relevant.  And then there’s ENS262.  Hydrology and Geomorphology.  I want to be a teacher.  Yet this is not a teaching subject.  I want to be a physics teacher.  Yet this is not a physics subject.  As a high school physics teacher, I will teach physics to seniors and also be expected to teach younger grades a more general science.  This subject is described as the study (-ology) of how water (hydro) interacts with and changes (morph) the landscape (geo).  Plain english – EROSION.  This has nothing to do with physics.  It has nothing to do with chemistry or biology either.  It is an earth science, an environmental science, a branch of geography.  When I went to high school geography was linked to history, taught by the same teachers as history, and kept well away from actual science activities.


How much should I care?


I just want this subject over.  But I have a dilemma.  Based on the assessment during the semester I have almost passed the subject.  With 75% of the marks already allocated I have achieved 49.3%.  A pass starts at 50%.  If I spell my name right on the coversheet and lay down one good sentence I will get the 0.7% I need to get across the line.  But my conscience and my competitive nature ganged up on me and moved the finish line.  If I achieve 15.7% from the final 25% I will get a Credit grade.  If I hit it out of the park I may squeeze into a Distinction.  And there’s another problem, the course outline clearly states "Students must demostrate satisfactory progress in all assessment items in order to pass the course."


And thus we arrive at today’s subject, procrastination. 


Over the years I have discovered that if you procrastinate long enough many of the things you are procrastinating about just go away, or someone else does them for you.  Either that or you get caught, get on the job urgently, all the while shouting an elegant and tangible excuse over you shoulder as you head off in the general direction of the required task (and here you thought I only blogged good stories). 


How late is too late?


But today I discovered that there are certain things that you can’t put off.  You can’t delay last minute cramming for an exam.  By its very nature, cramming has already been delayed to the last possible moment.  I had great plans.  There was a full week between the previous exam and this.  Take out a bit of time with the family, a bit of time earning some money, a bit of time blogging (quite a bit), a bit of time riding (not enough), there would still be ample time for reading and revision.  Tick, tock.  Tick, tock.  Tick, tock.  That week just disappeared up it’s own exhaust pipe.  Revision=0hrs, everything else=168hrs.  So with the exam starting at 2pm, I head off to a revision tutorial for a different subject at 10am.  12 o’clock must be lunch time.  12.45pm I arrived at the exam hall with 13 weeks lecture notes (untouched since the corresponding lectures dating July through October) plus two textbooks (which I shall be able to truthfully advertise on the student guild noticeboard as “perfect condition”). 


At 2pm, there I sat, having skim-read the lecture notes and handed the textbooks in at security for safe keeping (like I’d care if they disappeared).  During the 10 minute perusal we were allowed to write on the question paper, but not the answer paper.  We had to answer four questions from six listed.  In barely half the perusal time I had selected which questions I would answer and dot-pointed everything I knew about all four of them.  That was a little too easy.


How fast is too fast?


“Students, we will be working from the clock at the front of the room – and your time starts now.”  Breathe.  Think.  Write.  Think.  Think.  Think.  Write.  Think.  Think.  Damn.  Think.  Think.  Write.  Think.  Think.  Write.  Think.  Write.  Hand up.  “Do you need to go to the toilet?”  “No, I’m done.” 


++ Flashback ++  I completed my 90 minute physics mid-term in 42 minutes and got 100%.  I finished my 90 minute differential calculus mid-term in 46 minutes and got 92.6%. 


I finished today’s two hour exam in 55 minutes.  I had written nearly a page on each of the four questions.  It seemed complete and it was certainly everything I could recall without prompting from notes that were being held by security.  As I got up to leave, one of the “high achievers” put his hand up as well.  Great, if he’s finished in about the same time I’ll be OK.  “Can I get another answer book please?”  Oh, damn.  He wasn’t leaving, he was just warming up.  Having written eight pages, he still had more to say. 


Well, Friday will bring better things… my last exam of the year is three hours of differential and integral calculus.  I should be done in about two hours.  And it will be because I have answered every question completely and spectacularly.


In the meantime if you have any questions about Hydrology and Geomorphology, don’t ask me.  But I know a guy…

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21 Responses to If you procrastinate long enough…

  1. Sue says:

    There’s always that class that you just can’t force yourself to care about. I got caught in a quarters to semesters transition at my university. Because of this, and because they combined three quarter classes into one semester class and then split them into 2 semester classes the next year, I wound up having a 4 week genetic evolution section 3 different times. All taught by the same guy. By the third time, I couldn’t stand the sight of they guy, so I blew off the whole month, got out of touch with the class schedule, and wound up missing the exam.Botched

  2. Tom Stormcrowe says:

    I understand completely! My bugaboo is Algebra……..hate it! If I can see a tangible application for the math, I have no problem, but the mental masturbation of solving for a/c=c+d/a just doesn’t trip my trigger! I mean, blast, I duplicated independently Freeman Dyson’s equation for figuring the rate of time dilation as you approach the speed of light because I got curious about how to figure it out when I was 15 years old, showed it to mt math physics teacher…..who referred me to Dyson’s work to actually SEE it in it’s original form, the only differences were in the characters I selected for the variables!………why does algebra drive me up the wall?

  3. Fat says:

    When I was in college I had a course I was actually very interested in. The teacher, on the other hand, was a total jerk who didn’t know how to teach.I was working towards a 4.0 GPA and holding on to it steadily with only 3 quarters (semesters) left to complete my two years and graduate.I had trouble grasping this guy’s way of teaching so every tutoring session he held after class I attended. Every hands-on exam I took I passed with flying colors. In the tutoring groups I took over as the tutor because people understood me better than him. I expressed that I intended on getting an "A" in his class so I could maintain my GPA and would go to any lengths to do that.He told me I was doing great…I passed the course with a "B" and lost my 4.0 GPA. That is a class I could have skipped out on.~ Fat Chick

  4. a says:

    MIKE: as a "non-traditional" student, as i am known at my university, i have found the saying "C’s get degrees" to be both true and a great mantra to live by if you are (and YOU are) a "non-traditional" student. i look at it like this: if i were single, childless, living either at home, on-campus, or splitting rent 4 ways, then yes i should be a 4.0 student. instead, i have a wife who needs my time, 3 kids who need my time, a full-time (40 hr week) job which is needed to pay the mortgage, car payment, orthodontist for my kid, and a host of other responsibilities. so, i have blown off more than one class knowing that i can show up on the final day and write my name on the top of the paper and pass.now, will i be passed over for a position at a top-ranked firm b/c my GPA is not the highest. probably, but are those positions going to make me happy? likely not, as they will take away from all the responsibilies mentioned above. life is a big balancing act, and i think you are doing quite well at it.

  5. Big Guy on a Bicycle says:

    Sorry to tell you this, but since I am a Civil Engineer, I know quite a bit about erosion (and don’t forget deposition, which is the other half of the erosion equation). I spent two years one summer designing and then inspecting erosion control devices and structures. I’ll admit, it’s hardly exciting stuff.FatFitnessChick – Maybe the guy gave you a B BECAUSE you said how badly you were trying for an A. I’ve had a few prof.’s who were jerks like that.

  6. cosmogrl says:

    Mike, you are obviously a brainiac so don’t worry. You’ll be fine. Procrastination has always served me well. I’ve attended many dif schools for many dif things–the last being cosmetolgy–so I can’t tell you anything about hydrology, etc—but I CAN tell you how to wax that unsightly back hair that has been giving you trouble…. hehehe

  7. Tom Stormcrowe says:

    Mike, We need to get Tayfur in the O.I.!http://spaces.msn.com/members/mtyagci/PersonalSpace.aspx?_c01_blogpart=blogmgmt&_c=blogpartis his URL if you don’t already have him linked!

  8. THEODORE says:

    Tigerlily Procrastination Hobbit is my name. Why do today what you can put off forever? Amazingly, though, I’m not that way when it comes to tests. In fact, when it comes to tests I think I go a bit off the deep end, studying and cramming sometimes months before the test date. I don’t know why this is, exactly, but it keeps my grades in tip-top shape. Now, my room on the other hand…

  9. Fat Cyclist says:

    Here’s something you probably already know, at least subconciously: your mediocre efforts are better than most peoples’ best. So, for things you don’t care about, go mediocre and be glad it will be more than sufficient. Save your energy for things you care about. Like really funny anecdotes in my blog. That should be top of your list. In fact, it should be higher on your list than your own blog. I hope I have brought some clarity to your life.

  10. Unknown says:

    Big Guy — I absolutely agree with your analysis of that "I need an A" thing. That was the first thought thst enetered my mind becasue I know instructors like that, too.Storm — I also despise algebra. I got an a+ and immediately forgot everything I ever knew about it. It’s just not relevant for me and I have no way to cement the knowledge for the long term because I dont’ do anything that uses it except in the most rudimentary form.Chick — I went back to school full time in 2002 (at age 62), to get some different credentials, and I’m still 4.0 and won 9 scholarships. Talk about un-traditional students! It’s much easier now than twenty years ago and definitely easier than 45 or so years ago. But my biggest problem now is that it somehow got to be about GPA and scholarships and not about what I went there to learn. I hope to be back by spring semester (I’ve been on medical leave for two years now from school and working at the college) and I’m going to follow Nikared’s plan, I think. But omigawd, it’s hard to think of losing that 4.0!Mike — I’m going to try to skate around that subject, ENS262. I figured out what ENS means, but I was thinking of better words for it. Thank heavens it’s not even remotely associated with anything I study. In fact, if I see a class where they teach it, I’ll open the door, ask what class it is, say "Oh, that sounds really awful!" and go away… old people can get away with weird stuff, ya know?Hugs, MuMo

  11. Laura says:

    Mike, I spent more time worrying over how well I did or did not do on tests then I really care to remember. Enjoy the process, and remember procation can create tention that leads to adrinaline… which helps the brain function on higher levels.. at least that is what i tell my boss when i am behind on a project…Nikared, I never knew a boss to look at a GPA beyond your first job. My current boss was more intersted in my portfolio and technical credentals.Big Guy, Thank you for your the kind words, no apologies were needed. And i think i have discovered the reason why we might be having trouble understanding each other’s intent… Civil engineers and architects have historically miscommunicated…. (it genetic i think.)And Mike, After consulting my mother and a few friends, I can never recall a time i said or even thought of using the word Yee Haw… I’m more of a "oh yahh’ kind of chick…

  12. Unknown says:

    Procrastination is my superpower. I am Procratination Man. I was going to Proctastination Boy, but I kept putting it off, then it was too late.

  13. Fat says:

    Big Guy: I wouldn’t be surprised if you were right. Especially since the prof. let a kid who was failing and never showed up for class a few days to hand in some assignments so he could pass him with a "D".MuMo: When I found out I lost my 4.0 you would’ve thought someone had come and shot me in the head. Anger set in first and then after about 20 minutes of that the sadness settled in. It sucks when you work so hard for something and then see it slip away without being able to stop it. But as everyone told me in college, "There’s nothing wrong with a 3.8. Many people would LOVE to have that."

  14. Mrs. David says:

    Amen brother! Blog on!Now that the last deadline is past, let the procrastination begin. I’m amazed at how political getting grades can be. There was one prof that I absolutely detested, and was certain he felt the same way. The last class he handed out a paper with a space to put the grade you thought you earned (I put A- for the scores I knew I had + if I was given full points for participation and such) and the grade you thought you deserved (A+). I took the snotty road because I was certain he was going to knock me down to a B, because he seemed capable of such action and I figured it couldn’t hurt. Suprisingly, he didn’t. Let us know how it turns out?!

  15. Nina says:

    I had what I like to call "The Semester of Undying Death" during my second year of college. I took Organic Chemistry II with lab, Calculus, Physics I and Vertebrate Natural History. I’m not sure why I did that to myself. Sometimes I question my sanity. I could have easily thrown in an easy class instead of one of those…. Anyway, I could do the Biology class and Physics class (it was the dumbed down version for bio majors) with out too much fuss but Organic and Calculus almost gave me a nervous breakdown. I have this mental block when it comes to chemistry. As soon as I see those molecular structures, my brain shuts down and all thought processes cease. Same thing with Calc; show me a function and I’ll show you someone passed out asleep on their desk.Anyway the point is, I spent 6 hours on the Calc. final…it only had 3 questions…and I wasn’t even the last person to leave…and I really didn’t do all that well. So what’s the moral…well, I don’t really have one; I just wanted to tell a story.Maybe the moral is time is relative…that’s physics right? I like physics just with out all the math…but then I guess it would be philosophy.Ok, I’m done now.

  16. Unknown says:

    I’m on the other side of the desk and always procrastinate correcting exams as I do not look forward to banging my head against the wall; there always seems to be some students who did not comprehend a single thing taught. However, I am also one of those professors that will give a student every inch if he/she genuinely tried to pass and I realize most of my students are non-traditional and have full-time lives outside of my class. I love students that help tutor other students since I have to do less. Remember BIG Mike, it’s the end product, earning your degree, that really counts.

  17. Marido_de_Laura says:

    I just adored those times of tension during the finals. I was in the same position with A&P. But I was more then prepared, and on the answer sheets, I asked the professors questions. I know a little bit a smarty pants, but I just could not resist the temptations they laid out before me. The test was too easy in my opinoin, but that is a different story. I do remember a course that was required by all. I fail to recall the title, but it was simply Art appreciation. That is of the classics. The prof. was more or less dead, and invaded our grey matter with his death so to speak.This had nothing to do with Medical, Law, or Accounting, but all had to sit through the torture.I think they do those things just to wring more cash out of students.

  18. Unknown says:

    One thing that I know myself and always taught my kids is that teachers are humans, just like us. And also just like us, they tend to like the people who like them and not like the people who push them or show an obvious dislike. Then I told them to sit at the front of the class if possible and participate. I normally work at the local community college and as much as I try to be unbiased, I can’t help but like the students who seem to like me. It’s that old power thing… if a student pushes, well, I have the power to be absolutely by the book as to their results. I’m not saying they can’t disagree; only that they must do so like an adult and not like a simpering smart arse.I even know how to turn around an teacher, professor, or instructor (and even the occasional boss) who doesn’t seem to like me. I’ve never seen it fail and it doesn’t involve "kissing up" per se. All you do is ask a question _to which you already know the answer_ and then let the prof explain it to you. Then respond, "Hey! Do you mean blah, blah. blah, blah, blah?" repeating the ideas back to them. When he or she says yes, you "light up" like you just learned something and thank him or her very nicely for enlightening you. No instructor EVER can resist the idea that they have actually taught someone something. And even if the prof knows this is a ploy, he or she will appreciate the fact that you want him or her to like you.

  19. BIg Mike In Oz says:

    Botched – you gotta love bureaucracy.Stormy – you’re just not enough of a geek.FFC – you said you would do anything and then didn’t get dressed in something skimpy and feed him grapes while he reclined in a chaise lounge. I’d give you a B as well.nikared – there is a way to avoid the GPA analysis by employers. Complete an honours course or a masters. Your qualification is then higher than a bachelor no matter what the bachelor’s GPA was. Only problem is that qualifying for honours or masters needs a good GPA.Big Guy – don’t get me wrong, it was fascinating. I just have no base knowledge to build on and that subject is not a path to where I am going so the motivation was lacking.cosmogrl33 – when I’m about to blow something up with my new physics knowledge I’ll get you over to tidy me up so when I get caught my cell-mate will respect me in the morning.TigerlilyHobbit – you’re so lazy. You even dropped the middle out of the procrastinators motto. "Why do today what you can put until tomorrow? Why do tomorrow what you can put off forever?"fatty – careful. I don’t work well under pressure. I can’t be funny on demand. I just have to BE funny. If I get told, "be funny" I jam up.MuMo – EN for environment, S for science… not Extra Naughty Stuff, you naughty girl.Pale Purple Penguin – The subject gives me no stress. The stress comes from knowing I had all this time available and just frittered it away.JuvenileTim-D – it’s really late and I just yawned and laughed at the same time, OUCH! Fortunately, at 8am tomorrow I will be horizontal with a chiropractor hovering over me.Unintelligentsia – I’m not concerned about the lecturer. He’s great. I just want to learn physics, do physics, teach physics. And this ain’t physics.ninacan – physics without maths is just a car accident, or a ball rolling down a hill.Northeast Professor Sue – a rare breed you are. An educator who understands and cares. Sadly, the profession is riddled with fact regurgitators with no soul.Marido_de_Laura – I work well under pressure, I just don’t understand why I let the pressure build up so much.MuMo – you’re a sneaky devil. I’m taking notes.

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