By Haley Friefeld
If your grades have been plummeting, if your study time has significantly decreased, if you suddenly feel less of an urgency to do well in school, and if you are a senior in high school, then you may be suffering from a bad case of senioritis. Senioritis, a disease that strikes high school seniors all across the country, can be seen each morning on the droopy faces of Schechter Westchester seniors whose hands clutch their Dunkin Donuts cups, with the hope that that extra shot in their latte will get them through to the last bell.
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, senioritis is “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades.”
To the average high schooler, four years can feel like an eternity. By the time senior year rolls around, some 12th graders feel that their limits have been reached, and the everyday tasks of a high-schooler become a heavy burden.
What are the symptoms of this not-so-rare disease? A lack of care or incentive to put energy into schoolwork, a significant change in your sleep to study ratio, and recurring daydreams of lying on the hot sand of Israeli beaches, to name a few.
“I have a lack of motivation knowing that the end is so near,” senior Danielle Wolfe said.
It is no secret that the demands of junior year are stressful and the stakes are high, yet this often leaves students in a state of complete exhaustion by the time they enter senior year.
“It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just I care not as much this year and I’m not putting in the same effort that I would’ve put junior year,” senior Sam Louman said.
According to senior Josh Levey, “sleep deprivation and a lack of care” are the top two symptoms that come to mind when thinking about senioritis.
If it is so common among seniors everywhere, there must be a reason why senioritis is so prevalent. Holding their foot pedal-to-the-metal on the academic gas for three years with the goal of making it to the college finish line can be tiresome; when seniors are finally able to take their foot off the gas, they can contract a serious case of senioritis.
“We’ve been doing this for three years and as of Nov. 1, our grades have already been sent to colleges, so at this point and after people have gotten acceptances, basically the goal is to then just not fail,” Louman said.
Along with college acceptances, senioritis is ever-present simply because of the fact that seniors are in their fourth year of high school, and their energy bank is running out.
“As long as our grades stay relatively stable, it doesn’t actually matter what we have anymore,” senior Amanda Levi said. “Also, we’ve gone through three and a half years of school and are just tired of everything.”
Although it is not a true physical sickness, senioritis comes with it’s own harmful effects.
There is a common misconception that getting accepted into college is a pass to stop working hard in school. However, according to The Huffington Post contributor Kat Cohen, colleges do request your grades from later on in the year and put weight on them as well.
“A significant grade dip second semester is a huge red flag – is this student really committed? Can he or she follow through? Maybe this student isn’t mature enough after all to handle the demands of a college curriculum,” Cohen said.
Don’t worry about the fate of contracting senioritis just yet; there is no need to fret because according to Principal Eric Bassin, it is not inevitable.
“It certainly detracts from your learning, but also, not all seniors have senioritis,” Bassin said. “Some get a bad case, some don’t get it at all, and some have a mild case.”
And if you do happen to contract a case of senioritis, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your academic standing has taken a downhill turn, according to Louman.
“As long as someone doesn’t fail or compromise their chances of getting into a college they want to go to, then I think it’s fine,” Louman said.
Due to the fact that senioritis is not a bodily disease, skepticism can arise that a student simply is not willing to put in the effort when the symptoms begin to kick in. It could be that some students sometimes amplify their symptoms, or fabricate justifications for their lack of effort.
“I think for some people it’s a real thing and for others, they are probably exaggerating some of it,” Wolfe said.
“I think sometimes senioritis is overstated,” Bassin said. “I’ve never had a situation where kids just don’t come to my class and I don’t know why or anything like that.”
However, the disease’s presence cannot be underestimated, as it is evident that so many have contracted it.
“I think it’s [senioritis] the name of the excuse, but I think that the excuse is real,” Levi said.
Some believe that being a student at SW could augment the effects of the condition, due to the dual curriculum and the requirements for seniors after their trip to Israel.
“I don’t think it is an excuse, I think it is a legit problem because we have enough already to deal with at this school specifically until the Israel trip and finding an internship or WISE project,” Levey said. “At any other school, all you get is the rest of the school year and then college. Honestly, I think that these public high schools, they say they have senioritis, but it shouldn’t be as severe as us. We should be the ones who have senioritis.”
But seniors, don’t fall asleep just yet, according to Bassin, the second half of senior year is constructed in a way that combats this issue.
“We have a whole second semester that is about engagement,” Bassin said. “They go to Israel, Poland, and are fully involved in that, and then they come back and pursue an area of personal passion to them [WISE projects and internships] and then they are in school on Fridays, so that’s designed to increase engagement.”
As there are for many other diseases in the world, there is an alleged cure; however, it is not simple. It seems that there has not been one effective remedy for the exhausting symptoms of senioritis. However, students have numerous ideas for some ways to alleviate its effects.
“Don’t think about everything as a whole, take everything one step at a time,’’ Wolfe said.
Perhaps it is not just in the hands of the students to try and recover from the disease; teachers and faculty could also help to assuage the symptoms by lessening the amount of work they give.
The key to treating senioritis is potentially modifying what the seniors do while actually in school, with the goal of ensuring that their last few months at school are meaningful.
“I would make sure that every minute that they are in school is interesting and valuable to them,” Bassin said.
It could be that there is no cure for senioritis; it may remain an epidemic that’s part of the high school experience and one more thing that many high schoolers will inevitably have to deal with.
Seniors, many of you were bound to be a victim of this disease. While it may not be the easiest condition to overcome, deeming it abominable will not ease the symptoms. Keep your resilience for just a few more months and soon enough you’ll be out and on your way!