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Senioritis: A spreading syndrome

Updated: Apr 18

By Eleanor Gil and Niru Shivakumar Apr. 3, 2023



Jane Hong Art

The school bell has rung; it is mid-afternoon. One student—a senior who has just missed her literature class—is sprawled on the wool carpet, headphones firmly on and scrolling mindlessly through social media, with zero intention to do anything else for the next couple of hours.


Allegedly begun in 1957 per College Admissions Strategies, "senioritis" is a humorous term coined for high school seniors’ substantial decline in academic performance and motivation. Students will often start off their high school career strong, taking a large number of APs, maintaining a high GPA and pursuing various activities, yet by the time senior year rolls around, many students witness a decline in academics—a phenomenon commonly coined as senioritis. 


According to Southern New Hampshire University, when senioritis sets in, students often experience a drop in their academic performance, which may have negative consequences such as academic probation or warnings from their school. In extreme circumstances, colleges may even retract admission offers if grades drop beyond a certain limit or if a student fails a class. One major reason for this phenomenon may be that as seniors know that high school is coming to an end, the urge to maintain high academic performance decreases, especially for those who have already been admitted to a top-choice college. 


“Senioritis is not a byproduct of procrastination and laziness but something that exacerbates those traits; as students realize the stakes are lower in their second semester of senior year, they procrastinate assignments and skip classes. In fact, in today's digital age, where attention spans continuously decrease due to social media and short-form content on Tiktok, students are becoming increasingly unmotivated, something I find very worrying,” Senior Eric Yue, winner of Worst Senioritis, said. 

Teachers have noted a significant decline in student performance largely with senior classes; missing assignments and in-class engagement in seniors and underclassmen have been on the rise. For example, AP Literature and Composition instructor Samantha Peters, English Department, has observed that as a result of senioritis, there has been a significant increase in absences and tardies. 


“Compared to my Sophomore class, my Senior class is much less engaged and does not complete homework; in particular, they are not reading the books they are supposed to be reading. Perhaps seniors associate the purpose of high school with getting into college,” Peters said.

Furthermore, as discussed in the College Admissions Strategies article, senioritis may encourage students to have a misplaced feeling of entitlement since they think that getting into college automatically absolves them of the need to study hard and be diligent. This feeling of entitlement exacerbates the psychological difficulties linked to senioritis by encouraging complacency and undermining students' academic achievement. Also, when students seek to reconcile their diminishing enthusiasm with their responsibilities, senioritis may lead to increased stress, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy among students. Therefore, in order to lessen the possible detrimental effects of senioritis on students' academic performance and mental health, experts and educators emphasize the importance of retaining concentration and devotion during the senior year. 


However, some students actually enjoy senioritis because they feel less stressed and crunched for time, which opens up critical headspace and time for other activities. One student, Senior Elysia Du, says that since hearing back from colleges, she has become more laid back. Nevertheless, this change is minor for her; Du continues to dedicate similar hours to studying and completing work on time.


“In a way, I enjoy the feeling of senioritis because I feel less pressured to build up my resume for college, which  gives me more freedom to pursue hobbies that I have been planning since last summer. For example, I have spent more hours on tennis, a sport I love, art and hanging out with friends, which has made this semester more enjoyable than the last,” Du said.

Even Juniors like Annika Park express their simultaneous excitement and nostalgia as they enter their very last year of high school in just a few months.


“I definitely look forward to my second semester of senior year after college applications are completed, because I will be able to relax and engage more with school events, like prom, compared to in my junior year,” Park said.



Jude Tantawy Art

Nevertheless, it may be possible to alleviate senioritis by providing more in-class time to work on assignments, and when students go to college, senioritis will likely pass. Elizabeth Taylor, English Department  also says that teachers can pivot their curriculum to accommodate for the anticipated decline in senior motivation. 


“When students claim to have senioritis, they are just no longer inspired. All of their activities are done so they are just in some sort of limbo while waiting for college decisions. Also, they may not feel challenged anymore. Does that mean it is time to find something new to get rid of the redundancy? Yes. I do not believe in senioritis—it is just an excuse not to do certain things. Some might say that it is a byproduct of burnout, but in that case just call it what it is. People should just own up to being exhausted instead of claiming they have senioritis,” Taylor said. 

Although senioritis has decreased engagement in class, for many, it has provided great relief from the pressure and stress of sustaining a high academic performance. Therefore, senioritis might not be as disastrous as previously thought, and it may be time for the stigma surrounding it to shift into a positive idea: students are finally able to find peace and have fun in their final months of high school.

 

About the Contributors


Eleanor Gil

staff writer


Eleanor Gil is currently a sophomore at Leland High and an enthusiastic writer for The Charger Account. She spends her free time cultivating her deep passions for environmental sustainability and renewable energy, neuroscience and psychology, the law, tennis, and viola.




Niru Shivakumar

staff writer


Niru Shivakumar is a junior at Leland High School and is a staff writer for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys playing sports, hanging out with her friends, and listening to music.






Jane Hong

artist


Jane Hong is a sophomore at Leland High School and is an artist for the Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys listening to K-pop music, dancing, sleeping, and doodling.






Jude Tantawy

artist


Jude Tantawy is a senior at Leland High School and is an artist for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys drawing & painting, cooking, baking, playing video games, and is always listening to music.

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