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The Truth Behind Senioritis

by Sloane Moriarty

As the school year comes to an exciting, highly anticipated ending, students worldwide are ready for summer - and the seniors for graduation. After AP exam season has met its joyous end, most kids face relief…. but also diminished motivation and chronic absences. We see teachers growing frustrated, fed up that their once high-achieving students no longer have the effort to complete assignments, let alone show up to school. Can we blame them?

Parents, administration, and students themselves jokingly make light of this behavior by labeling it as “a bad case of senioritis,” but there is more proven truth to this “disease” than most know.

Senioritis is described by Urban Dictionary as “laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants....Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as graduation." I’ve seen it happen in real-time, among my senior friends and my junior class as well, though we’re lacking a sense of ultimate finality; they completely lose their academic rigor during their second semester. Parents are constantly calling their kids out, and the attendance office is bombarded with emails and phone calls. Although this behavior is mostly looked down upon, it’s important to understand that the basis for senioritis doesn’t necessarily sprout from pure laziness or burnout. It comes from in a lot of ways fear, and almost entirely excitement.

What most people forget when looking at senioritis is that the end of high school marks the first monumental transitional period in one's life. Sure, you graduate elementary school, and then the eighth grade, but none of these moments compare to moving out of your childhood home and finally, after years of preparation, going out into the real world. An article by explains this phenomenon in terms of the fear of the unknown, saying, “They may start to panic at the thought of leaving their comfort zones. Their fear can be paralyzing, creating stress and anxiety that makes it hard to think, let alone perform up to their previous standards in school. Doing less becomes a coping mechanism.” By the time finals come around, seniors are already committed to a school, and one of the main things on their minds isn’t their mundane end-of-the-year assignments, but instead the massive leap they are about to take.

Though this transition is looked at with a touch of apprehension, it’s mostly absorbed in a positive light…. seniors are excited. They have been anticipating this moment for the past four years of their lives, so how can they be expected to focus on anything else? Micheal Kirst writes in his report called “Overcoming the Senior Slump”, that “Senior slump seems so much a part of American high school culture that some may assume it is a universal phenomenon, that teenagers worldwide feel entitled to several months of light academic duty before heading off to college, work, or the armed services.” This is exactly the case. They have earned a bit of freedom from the pressure of high school, as soon enough they are going to be faced with the even heavier pressure of college.

However, if senioritis becomes too severe, it can be detrimental to a student's future, even taking away the possibility of further education at all. That being said, there are simple ways that schools can combat this trend of senior downfalls. An article by Mercury News advocates for the improvement of education choices to aid and battle senioritis. It explains how some schools adopt certain projects for seniors in their last two months of school. Kris Amundson, senior vice president of the Education Sector at the Washington think tank says, “It’s the best approach, trying something completely different. Get them out there with adults they don’t know — and do something useful.” Immersing students in real-world and adult activities and jobs will not only give them a taste for what lies ahead, but make them stay on track educationally while also enjoying themselves more than they would in a regular class.

All said and done, senioritis is never going to go away. It’s a natural stepping stone on the path to adulthood and graduation. The wisest thing for the administration to do is not fight it, but instead try to make the last few months of students' high school as enjoyable as possible. They should encourage them to persevere through not only the last days of high school, but throughout their educational journey. We applaud the seniors for how hard they have worked thus far to get them to where they are today. Congratulations class of 2022, and may you bask in your last week of senior celebration.


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