Comic courtesy of Varcien on DeviantArt.

Well…this is a bit awkward.

When my dear editor asked me to write an article about senioritis, I sat staring at the email for a good couple of minutes before I started laughing; I then went downstairs and told my mom, and she started laughing, too: “They want you to write about senioritis? You?!

Because, you see, I never got senioritis. Not even close.

For those of you who don’t know what senioritis is, Wikipedia puts it well: “[Senioritis is] a colloquial term mainly used in the United States and Canada to describe the decreased motivation toward studies displayed by students who are nearing the end of their high school, college, and graduate school careers.”

Basically, it’s a disease that supposedly attacks one’s productivity. It’s especially prevalent in second-semester seniors — seniors who have finished applying to college or graduate school and don’t see a reason to keep working the way they did during the first semester.

Symptoms of senioritis include: watching that new Netflix series instead of writing your English essay, which you turn in five days late; meeting some of your friends for dinner and a movie instead of studying for that science test you have tomorrow; deciding to go home after lunch instead of sticking around for the last two or three periods because “I only have eight absences in those classes, Mom, I might as well get to ten before the semester ends”; the list goes on and on.

Why am I telling you this? Because, quite honestly, senioritis is a choice, even though its name suggests the opposite. I am a fierce critic of senioritis. I don’t think it exists. I think it’s an excuse. And every single teacher you will ever have hates senioritis; they hate it when students stop putting effort into their schoolwork and claim that a certain fictitious disease has rendered them incapable of doing their homework. Senioritis isn’t contagious; it’s not something you can catch, and I’m living proof of that. When you make an active decision to stop doing your work — because that’s exactly what you’re doing — and claim that it’s senioritis,  you are making your teachers’ lives much more difficult than they already are.

That’s another thing: The choices you make in life will always affect those around you in varying capacities. Your teachers work long hours, between planning their classes, gathering content for those classes, teaching those classes, and grading the work from those classes. When you make the senioritis choice, it’s one of the most disrespectful actions you can take against your teachers, short of throwing custard pie in their faces. You’re telling them that the time and labor they put into building their course doesn’t matter. Is that the kind of mark you want to leave on your last few months of high school or college?

I’m sorry if this article is turning out to be a little more intense than you thought it would be, but senioritis is one of my pressure points. It was difficult for me to sit through the last couple months of school and watch my classmates either stop doing their work or not put nearly as much effort into their work. I’ll always remember the day that one of my English teachers looked morosely out at us and told us how disappointed he was in the majority of the class because — even though he’d warned us about senioritis and lectured us about all of its pitfalls, as I did two paragraphs earlier — the class’s level of work had dropped from A-grade to C-grade within a couple of weeks. He told us that the work he’d seen on the most recent essays was some of the worst he’d ever encountered.

Would you want that on your shoulders? After all your hard work?

All right. Now that I’ve lectured you and warned you, I can tell you how to avoid senioritis, or, how to maintain some modicum of responsibility during the second semester of your senior year and how to enjoy it at the same time.

  1. It’s okay to give yourself a break. Relax a little! I definitely had days during my second semester where I came straight home and flopped onto my bed for a good, long nap and Netflix-binge instead of doing my homework (usually because I had enough free periods the next day to make up said work). Odds are, the teachers for your non-AP/honors classes might ease up on the assignments a little, too.
  1. Let yourself get a lower grade in your class — if you can stand it and if it’s an okay thing to do. I’m a very Type A person, so not doing work or letting my grades fall was not an option for me; I’d worked my cute little butt off for the GPA I had, and I didn’t want it going anywhere. I recall one of my friend’s parents saying, “I tell my daughter, ‘Why don’t you just get a B? It’s okay to get a B during your second semester!’” — and I think there’s a lot of truth in that. If you’ve been pushing yourself to the grindstone for your entire first semester, ease up. Get more sleep. Eat some chocolate or some ice cream at least once a week to reward yourself for being an awesome human being.
  1. Don’t purposefully stop doing your homework, flake on your extracurriculars, or turn things in late (unless there are extenuating circumstances), and stay out of trouble. You will regret it in the long run, and it will change the way your teachers think about you as a student. Keep the commitments that you made first semester (or even before that) and try to at least maintain a good academic standing. If you’re going to college, that college expects you to keep up your grades and commitments during the second semester; they know about senioritis, too. If they see that your grades have taken a nose dive or that you’ve gotten in trouble either in or outside of school, they can revoke their offer of admission, leaving you without a school to go to in the fall.
  1. If anything else, senioritis is a form of peer pressure. Don’t give into it just because it’s what everyone else is doing. I got a lot of crap my second semester (and before that) for being a person who always tried and put in a lot of effort. I didn’t let it get to me, though, because I wasn’t about to turn in an essay without a polished thesis, and neither should you.

And there you have it! Everything you need to know about senioritis, why it should be avoided, and how it should be handled from a well-seasoned student. Remember, it’s only a disease if you let it get to you, but doing your work and keeping it together until graduation is the best way to boost your immunity.


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