For many seniors, the closer the graduation date approaches, the harder it becomes to remain dedicated to schoolwork.
Some seniors come down with a case of what is colloquially known as “senioritis,” or the lack of motivation seniors start to feel as their graduation date approaches. Tara Brownlee, the assistant principal of Douglass High School in Memphis, said she is familiar with senioritis.
“My personal definition of the term senioritis is when seniors, typically during the second semester of school, begin to develop the mindset of ‘being grown’ and feel like they have reached the highest or greatest potential so far in their lives,” Brownlee said. “As a result, they tend to become less focused on the academic aspect of completing high school.”
Brownlee said she has witnessed senioritis’ effect on some students.
“This is my third year as an assistant principal, and with each class, senioritis has become increasingly alarming,” Brownlee said. “The signs of senioritis include poor attendance, more discipline infractions, lack of motivation to complete assignments and a nonchalant attitude. This normally occurs during the second semester of school after students have received their grades and class rankings.”
Brownlee said she motivates seniors to finish strong and urges teachers to hold their students accountable.
“In my experience, having courageous conversations with seniors and consistency helps,” Brownlee said. “I also encourage teachers to be firm with grading and expectations when seniors have excessive unexcused absences and missed assignments.”
Etholia Holmes, a business professor at Concordia University Chicago, said she has also witnessed the effect senioritis has on students and understands seniors’ perspective.
“They are over it,” Holmes said. “I feel that my students are affected by senioritis much closer to the end of each semester. Students begin to withdraw from discussions and overall participation. The signs of senioritis involve lack of motivation, participation and attention span.”
Holmes said it is important for teachers and professors to be aware of students’ possible behavior changes.
“I can help students overcome senioritis by promoting positive reinforcement to ensure student finish strong,” Holmes said. “Senioritis is normal. Educators should always keep an open and compassionate mind to help students stay on track.”
Although Holmes and Brownlee detailed their experiences with high school and college students, eighth graders can also experience a form of senioritis. Charles Stevenson, the principal of Warren Central High School in Mississippi, said eighth grade senioritis is also common. Stevenson said he has witnessed senioritis affect middle schoolers.
“Senioritis, to me, is when you reach your last year of formal education for that grade, and you have no desire to do assignments, go to class, or participate in anything extra,” Stevenson said. “You simply want to do the bare minimum and graduate. The eighth graders get senioritis the last semester, and the signs are tardiness, increased absences, failing grades, failure to turn in assignments and a nonchalant attitude about school.”
Despite the presence of senioritis, Stevenson said he continues to serve as a source of motivation for his students.
“I continue to motivate them through the use of incentives or make sure school and assignments are engaging and attract their interests,” Stevenson said.
Destiny Smith and Asia Hubbard, two University of Memphis seniors who will be graduating this May, described their experiences with the “crippling disease.”
Smith, a criminal justice major, said she thinks senioritis has affected her tremendously.
“It is coming closer to the last few semesters of your school career, and it gets harder to want to keep up,” Smith said. “You become very drained with school to the point where you unintentionally get lazy. It’s those last couple of semesters that I am working towards but also trying to maintain my life in general.”
Hubbard, a biology major and chemistry minor, also discussed her experience.
“Personally, senioritis is a huge decline of motivation and drive during ones’ last year and/or semester of college,” Hubbard said. “To me, college is snoozing your alarm 10 times before your 8 a.m. lecture and deciding you are too late to attend. Senioritis is waiting until the last night to work on a huge project. Senioritis feels like a pool full of procrastination. I definitely feel as if I have been affected by senioritis.”
Despite her ongoing struggle, Hubbard said she is pushing herself to finish her last semester strong. Smith and Hubbard agree it is difficult to overcome senioritis but not impossible.
“One can overcome senioritis by simply remembering why you initially enrolled. I think back to my very first few days of college and my excitement to know I would be one step closer to my career,” Hubbard said. “I also reflect upon the fact that I will be a first-generation college graduate. To see the smiles and joy upon my families’ faces at graduation keeps me going.”