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‘Cat in the Stacks: The Worst Academic Habits Ever


I’m Michelle Callaghan, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.

Warning: If you are a highly organized human being, this blog might induce some serious cringing. The author is not responsible for pulled cringe muscles. The author also neither confirms nor denies that she has adopted a disorganized persona for entertainment purposes and it is non-reflective of her own habits.

Now that that’s worked out, these are the worst academic habits of all time.

Stopping at the Procrastination Station
It’s fun! There are pretty lights the color of Facebook notifications and little text message whistles! Who wouldn’t want to stop here? No. Incorrect choice. Like your brain tries to convince you that a whole pack of Chips Ahoy will make you happy and not sick, your brain also tries to convince you that deferring your projects will make you happy and not overwhelmed. Delaying feels nice for, like, a second. But you can’t even enjoy the time you’re not working because you’re worried about not working.

Sleeping Here, There, and Everywhere
A lot of people run up a sleep debt in college. Accordingly, the college nap is the holiest of grails. Whether you sleep here and there, or you sleep everywhere, you’re probably used to the undersleep/oversleep funk. Perhaps, you say, you can deal with working while tired. But working while moody? Dangerous. Do you know how your sleep habits affect your mood?

Not Regularly Keeping a Calendar
“I’ll remember. I know I’ll remember. I’m going to remember. Of course I’ll remember.”

Beep, beep, beep. Back up. Get a planner. Use your phone. Something. Anything. Because when you’re (see number 2), your memory goes kaput.

Not accurately notating the bit of the essay that was useful to you or leaving any hint as to why it was useful to you.
The worst. You go whole hog on a research day and find so much useful content, so many smart quotes, so many great references, so you underline them–maybe. You star the essay in the margins–sort of. Maybe you always have a highlighter on hand–but two weeks later you are asking yourself why. What was on my mind with this one? Where was I going with this? What secrets do you hold, oh arbitrary fluorescent-yellow line?

Keeping a document of copypasta’d links to a ton of sources and not noting who wrote it or what the title is or, again, why it was important to you.

Truly the worst. Why? Who would do this?  Maybe the person responsible for this list was just so excited about striking research gold and could barely pause to label the URLs. Maybe she figured she’d organize them later. Rookie mistake. Here’s a new habit I’m adopting – for every source I find in our catalog, I grab the MLA citation that the Falvey website provides us on every catalog entry online. Yep, you can imagine my reaction when I finally found that out. Reading is important, friends.

Don’t do these things. Over n’ out, Wildcats.

Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.



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Last Modified: September 10, 2015

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