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Senioritis: It’s Not Contagious, Yet Can Strike Whole Senior Classes

About this time of year, a curious affliction can take hold of the current high school Senior class; its often known as, “Senioritis”.   With no known cure, yet for most, a temporary condition, Senioritis can strike at any time, for no apparent reason, and without warning.  The symptoms can include:

  • Decreased motivation to complete homework assignments, where everyday homework feels “pointless” and “tedious” and “boring.”  
  • Increasing difficulty waking up on time for school
  • Longer procrastination periods than previous school years in completing projects, research papers and preparing for exams
  • Irritability at the mention of any scholarships for college or the latest updates on who-got-in-to-which-college (although, in all fairness, this annoyed reaction can also be symptomatic of the stress of applying to college in general, which compounds any Senioritis.)
  • Increased time television watching, Facebook reading, internet browsing, and/or video game playing, with greater numbers of reminders from Mom and Dad to get homework done
  • More requests to spend time with friends, including after a school day of sports practices and 6 classes, or all day weekend day trips to San Francisco or Tahoe (for our Sacramento readers)
  • Noticeable increase in the amount of texting and cell phone usage by students
  • Increased “last-minute” all-night project completions during the Spring semester

While this list is representative of general symptoms of Senioritis, not all Seniors will experience these symptoms simultaneously or acutely for long periods of time; some symptoms may come and go.  Regardless, Senioritis seems to be a Seniors reaction to the pressures of waiting for college acceptances, facing the knowledge that they’re completing their final semester of high school (which to some may seem like a journey away from childhood), grappling with possibly leaving friends who’ve accompanied them on their journey to maturity in the next 6 months when they scatter to colleges around the state and nation, and all while working at the accelerated pace of Advanced Placement and Honors classes and preparing for AP exams in May.  Postponing, ignoring, procrastinating, avoiding, denying–these are all reactions that make sense to most normal human beings when faced with unpleasantries; teenagers are no exceptions.

While many parents try cajoling, bribing, arguing, demanding, forbidding, grounding, allowance withholding or some combination of all options to remedy any possible (negative) effects of Senioritis, there is no right formula or magic cure.  Senioritis works its course, like a cold, testing the patience of the Senior, as well as their families. Rest, a few extra breaks, a little more latitude for the Senior to take responsibility, including for the consequences of any procrastination and potential subsequent panic, and a little more guiding on the side, rather than from the front, on parents’ parts can be helpful in managing Senioritis.   Also, trying harder to buckle down and get work done isn’t the most effective remedy either.  Acknowledging that Senioritis exists, and working with the symptoms, like breaking projects into multiple mini-steps or completing homework assignments by Facebook video chat as a group of friends, may be helpful.  Relying on friends can get work done, relieve the stress of possibly leaving friends, and learn how to get help when needed (which can prepare Seniors for life at college.)  In my years of experience, Senioritis seems to be a temporary affliction that doesn’t derail college plans nor high school graduation.  And, creative remedies for the symptoms can be a maturing experience, for both Senior and their families.