Senioritis is the famed academic disease that is both earnestly felt by many in their final year of high school or jokingly tossed around in conversation between classes. It is often discussed as an inevitable state of being that one reaches after countless years of intellectual striving. Many students begin to experience senioritis’ symptoms shortly after receiving college decisions in the spring of their senior year.
Senioritis is the state of “can’t wait to be done with high school” and its impacts vary across individuals. It can be described as a loss of motivation. Students may begin to let their grades slip and not turn in their assignments. Others may begin to procrastinate more, put less effort into their work, or lose interest in their studies. Some students may even begin to skip class altogether. Senioritis has the potential to impact any high school senior, including straight-A students.
Why Might I Suffer from Senioritis?
Senioritis is the product of an academic mindset that is focused solely on outcomes. Many students contract senioritis once they begin to receive their college decisions. Once they make it into college and have options for their future on the table, some students disengage from their normal routines and responsibilities. They feel safe knowing what happens next and no longer have to try so hard in order to secure their future. Once they’ve achieved the ultimate outcome that they’ve been working towards––college acceptance––they are ready to be done.
Alongside those students experiencing senioritis who are satisfied with their future possibilities, there are some students who are deeply disappointed with their outcomes. There are countless students who are not admitted to their dream schools and who, in an act of despair, lose all motivation to pursue their studies and work hard. These students feel that their continual intellectual striving over the years didn’t get them anywhere and that there’s no point in trying any longer. If you do not want to be disappointed in your outcomes, check out our post on finding colleges that are a good ‘fit’ for you and how to strategically apply to maximize your college acceptances.
Both types of students––those satisfied with their outcomes and those that are dissatisfied––work hard and invest in their studies because they are hoping for a particular outcome. And, once their outcomes are revealed, they experience a serious decline in their motivation to be engaged in high school life and its demands.
Why Control the Symptoms?
You may ask, “So what? Why does it matter if students loosen up at the end of their high school career?” There are a number of reasons why it is important for students to remain engaged throughout the rest of their senior year.
First, college acceptances are not the sole purpose you go to school. Ideally, students dedicate themselves to their studies because they love to learn. Learning continues throughout senior spring and those that disengage once they receive college admissions decisions miss out on learning opportunities with their fellow students and teachers.
Second, aside from missing out on learning opportunities, there are serious potential impacts that senioritis can have on students’ future opportunities. For example, college acceptances are contingent on grade maintenance. It is important that students keep up their grades and finish their senior year strong, otherwise, they may find that their future is not as secure as they thought. Additionally, students must consider how future employers might interpret declining grades during the latter half of their senior year.
Third, you are building skills for your future throughout the entirety of your high school career. High school is the time to build discipline, good study habits, and strengthen your own internal sense of what drives you and motivates you. Finishing strong your senior year is a promising sign that you’ll be able to handle the constant workload you’ll have in college. Once you enter college and the professional workforce, you’ll find that your future trajectory is no longer as clear. You will likely not be progressing towards one type of outcome (such as acceptance to college) but will be working towards various types of outcomes. If one opportunity doesn’t pan out how you wanted it to, you’ll move on to the next. There is always room to learn and grow more as you progress through high school, college, and your professional career.
This is all to say that it is completely fine to take a break after you’ve been working hard for so long. But it is not okay to let that break turn into a norm of shirking your responsibilities and tuning out. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep planning and preparing for your next steps.
How Can I Control the Symptoms of Senioritis?
If you begin feeling symptoms of senioritis, don’t worry. There’s a cure to your boredom, restlessness, and lack of motivation! Consider the tips below to combat senioritis and finish your senior year strong.
Learn to love learning (again). There’s no doubt that many students experiencing senioritis love to learn. Otherwise, they likely would not be willing to go through four more years of education. Those experiencing senioritis are just tired; they are emerging from a marathon sprint of applying to college and figuring out their next steps. They know their outcomes and, now, must remember that learning is valuable in and of itself. Learning is not just about reaching a goal or some idea of success but is valuable as a personal experience that enriches one’s understanding of the world.
If you feel less engaged in or enthusiastic about your studies than you used to, find ways to rediscover your joy for learning. Push yourself to remain engaged in your courses recognizing that your teachers have a lot of knowledge and wisdom to pass on to you. And use your free time to do something that is meaningful and interesting to you without increasing your screen time. Do something that requires intellectual engagement instead of upping your time spent playing video games or watching tv.
Practice adulting. Consider using your free time to practice adulting and to prepare for your future. Your transition to college will present a lot of new challenges. You may find yourself living on your own for the first time in your life, cooking your own meals, and/or managing your own finances. Start preparing early by drafting your college packing list, trying out some new recipes, or reading our blog post on successful college financial planning. Use the rest of your senior year to get excited and prepared for your next steps. You’ll have many major transition points throughout your adult life as you change jobs, move to a new place, and/or settle down and start a family. Use your time productively and gain the skills you need to plan for and adapt to new life events.
Get involved. We are all, in part, products of our communities. We are influenced and supported by friends, family members, neighbors, teachers, and strangers. If you are grateful for all that you’ve achieved so far and found yourself with time to spare, consider getting more involved in your community. Are there places for you to volunteer and give back? Can you organize a community appreciation event? Can you spearhead a fundraiser or day of action that leaves some aspect of your community better off? Give back to those who have helped you become who you are today.
As you can see, there is no shortage of things you can do during your senior year to remain engaged and finish strong. Set goals for yourself of what you hope to accomplish by the end of your senior year, make a calendar and reward yourself in small ways for accomplishing your goals.
Concluding Thoughts on Senioritis
Senioritis is no easy thing to overcome, but it is much easier to combat once you reorient your mindset on what learning and productivity mean to you. If you find yourself with less to do than usual, seize that spare time to do something meaningful for you and your community. And, if you’re finding yourself short of motivation, remind yourself of what the purpose and value of learning are in the first place. Education and, more broadly, life is not about checking off achievements on a list. It is about your experiences of growth and learning, and how you utilize your opportunities to better your life and the lives of those around you. So, keep learning, keep growing, and keep planning and preparing for your next steps.