Life Lessons from the Library: The Optimism of Procrastination Meets the Reality of the End (of the Semester)

We are three days before the beginning of final exams. On our campus, this means that almost all projects and papers are now due. In fact, for the library and learning center, this week is busier than final exam week because students are making a last-ditch effort to turn in not only assignments due this week, but late assignments, and extra credit projects.

This stress is making everyone a bit testy. Two students almost got into an argument over the copier this morning. Fifty or so students are competing for the dozen extra-credit DVDs in the library catalog. Last night, a student simply chose not to leave (kind of like Bartleby the Scrivener) when we closed last night. She ingeniously pretended simply not to hear as we announced repeatedly that we were closing and then closed until her works cited page was done.  After all, desperate times call for desperate (and creative) measures.

Each semester, students are stunned at the realization that the semester is truly going to end in a matter of days, and all those projects, papers, and exams must now be completed. This is the week when the optimism of believing there will be time to do everything meets the reality of a hard deadline, the end of the semester.

Although we complain about students’ procrastinating ways, we must sympathize with them. Because, let’s face it, it is very similar to how many of us live our lives. We continuously put off things hoping for the perfect time to start them, hoping that there will be enough time to start and accomplish certain dreams, and then the end comes. Students at least have the end writ large in front of them. They may ignore it, but the end of the semester is a clear deadline. Life has no such clear end warning. It can come at any time. But it will come.

So today’s lesson from the library is simple: Always keep in mind that there is an expiration date on all of us, and so now is the time to make sure that we work on those dreams.

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2 thoughts on “Life Lessons from the Library: The Optimism of Procrastination Meets the Reality of the End (of the Semester)

  1. . . . and when they mature a little and learn to plan ahead, they will get so busy in their lives, so overwhelmed in their work, that it doesn’t matter how well they plan ahead; the deadline will be approaching and it will feel like an oncoming train. (Speaking as one who is not a procrastinator but is facing the last day of class with several sections of papers and semester projects to grade, QEP data to post, Gen Ed data to post, master syllabi to revise, an online course going through QM . . . Shall I go on? No. That’s enough.)

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