Everyone who has ever been a senior or been the parent of a senior or has merely heard about seniors, is aware of the term “senioritis.” We are familiar with the lassitude seniors experience at the end of high school when they seem to lose interest in school and, sometimes, in most everything in their lives. While challenging for teachers and parents, senioritis is a perfectly normal and expected response to the end of high school.
What is not as familiar to those of us experiencing a senior for the first time, however, is the stage of senioritis that most students go through early in the spring semester of senior year. This typically begins soon after the holidays and often, though not always, lasts right up to the last few days of school. The final semester of senior year is a roller coaster ride of emotions for students and, therefore, for their parents and teachers as well.
By the end of the holiday season, most students will have decided where they will be applying to college as they have spent time dreaming about their future while all options still seem within reach. The difficulty is trying to narrow what they might want to pursue in college and in adulthood. It is an exciting and all-consuming process, and the future seems wide open and full of engaging and attractive possibilities.
The holidays, in whatever manner families spend them, offer a busy distraction of relaxation with friends and family. The end of senior year still seems far off, and seniors still feel firmly in the embrace of their families and their school.
Once school resumes in January, however, the end of senior year draws ever nearer and, therefore, so does the end of all that is familiar and comfortable and known.
During spring semester, your senior may exhibit symptoms of senioritis that are unexpected and long thought to be behind them. They may respond petulantly to younger siblings and parents. They may whine like preschoolers. They may even throw a temper tantrum or two. At school, they may miss assignments they normally accomplish with ease and alacrity. They may claim to dislike their teachers. They may even feel lonely among old friends.
This is all perfectly natural. Your seniors are about to step out into the world. The dream of what that world would be like is turning into reality, and they may feel wholly inadequate to face it. Nevertheless, students need to recognize their restlessness and take steps to avoid the potential negative effects of having college acceptances and financial aid rescinded due to plummeting effort and grades. It is important to keep in mind that spring semester is a marathon for seniors, and they need to pace themselves accordingly.
One way to do that is to set smaller, shorter-range goals for themselves. Students might avoid looking at everything they have to do that semester, and focus on what they can do today or on one assignment at a time. Another trick is to schedule study time into their calendars directly. Identifying a couple of hours a day to devote to studying will help ensure that preparation won’t be left till the last minute. As an added bonus, doing so will continue to improve their study habits in preparation for college in the fall. Most importantly, seniors should embrace downtime to read a favorite book, take a hike, or spend time with family and friends.
Senioritis is a common experience for students nearing the end of high school. As teachers and parents, our job is to hold to our expectations with love and kindness and to realize that this, too, shall pass. And all too quickly.