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The Cost of Procrastination

20 dollar bills

We all know that the true definition of study is ‘using Facebook with an open textbook nearby’. We’re all guilty of spending our time and money inefficiently, yet every now and again there are moments that highlight the fact that studying law costs money. A lot of money.

For some, that moment occurs at the end of semester when they find brand new textbooks they never got around to reading and see those price stickers. Others may suddenly realise that they’re shopping on ASOS during a crucial lecture, and they’ve missed the most important part. Our HECS-HELP statements, if they had a face, would certainly be contorted into a troll-like grin at the thought of how much money we’ve already managed to ‘spend’ on our degrees.

For me, the moment came at the start of a tutorial. The other week, the tutor (a local lawyer) had invited a supervisor from the profession to observe a class. The supervisor was shocked by the number of people that had spent the majority of the tutorial on Facebook. In the tutor’s own words, the supervisor "couldn't understand why you'd pay tens of thousands of dollars for this degree, and sit on Facebook during a valuable tutorial."

How it Happens

Here’s an example that’s all too close-to-home, personally. Imagine that the lecturer for one of your core law subjects isn’t very engaging, no matter how hard you concentrate. Makes more sense to skip lectures and do the study later, or just share notes at exam time, right? Try a very rough calculation. If the cost of $1178 per unit covers lectures and tutorials, it costs you a bit over $35 for every hour of class, whether you’re attending or not. I wish I’d had that in mind last semester!

Where can we Improve?

Now that the new semester is here, sit down and think about how you can best manage your study and balance your life. Buy only what stationery you need to manage your studies efficiently. If there’s more than one recommended textbook, don’t buy them unless you’re convinced they will be valuable reading. Most semesters I’ve bought mountains of notebooks, diaries, wall planners, textbooks, and even extra computer apps to try and manage study better, only to find I’ve never used them.

When it comes to study, set yourself hourly or daily goals, making sure you allow regular breaks and set aside specific time to deal with all your other pressing engagements. By keeping up to date with the material you’ll save yourself having to revisit lectures later in the semester, and you’ll get more out of your classes.

Of course everyone has their own unique way of tackling their degree, and deferring HELP payments until later in life seems to remove some of the feeling of ownership over the costs of study. Now that I’ve been confronted about the reality though, I’m going to think twice before my fingers dance across the F, A, C, and E keys during a class.

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