Senioritis: Does it Really Exist?

There’s currently an epidemic ravaging high school students across the nation. Every year, it plagues a majority of Wheatley senior students, each with differing levels of severity. So far, we are unable to find an appropriate solution to battle this epidemic.

It isn’t COVID, polio, or the common cold.

It’s senioritis.

Described by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades”, Wheatley seniors are no strangers to self-diagnosing themselves with senioritis. Especially after the first and second quarter, when colleges can no longer view a student’s grades, senioritis takes Wheatley seniors by storm.

Often interchangeable with academic burnout, senioritis affects, well, seniors. After 4 grueling years of pushing themselves to the limit in high school, senior grades, attendance, effort, and motivation drop – and drop hard. It is common to see grades drop multiple letter grades after the second quarter.

So, it begs the question; is senioritis real? How can we stop it? Does it even need to be stopped?

To gain more insight into this epidemic, I’ve interviewed Wheatley senior Aaron Chang.

Q: Have you been affected by senioritis? What does it feel like to you?

Aaron: Yes. I no longer have the motivation to achieve the most I can academically. Last year, I spent at least a few hours daily focusing on academics in my core classes, such as AP Bio and AP English Language. Even though I still take difficult classes, such as AP Chemistry and AP Calculus BC, my past mindset no longer applies.

Q: How has senioritis affected you both academically and personally?

Aaron: I feel like my grades are worse. However, I feel like I’ve improved mentally as I no longer feel immense pressure to keep my grades extremely high.

Q: Is senioritis a common thing? How often do you see senioritis in other seniors or friends?

Aaron: Almost all seniors that I’ve talked to across the board have talked about being affected by senioritis one way or another.

Q: Some believe that Senioritis is actually just laziness. What are your thoughts on this?

Aaron: I feel like it’s both combined. Laziness comes from the idea that it’s my senior year, and the school mindset doesn’t apply to me anymore. However, there’s also burnout – as we’ve gone through the past 5 years of rigorous academics.

Although senioritis is a widely accepted term, there are still many educators and students alike who believe senioritis to be fake. As said by long-time Wheatley AP History and AP Economics Educator Mrs. Birthe Seferian, “I think senioritis mostly manifests as laziness. I base my opinion on knowledge of education in countries similar to us. In Europe acceptance does not arrive until late July. So, the grades of the last year of high school, unlike in the US, play an important role in acceptance into Uni.”

Mrs. Clarke, Wheatley’s AP Psychology teacher, utilizes psychological principles to denounce senioritis. She says, “a possible reason that some seniors develop senioritis is that they have developed a strong extrinsic motivation, being driven largely by external rewards of grades, getting into a good college, etc. So, when the extrinsic rewards are removed, they no longer feel motivated to continue working hard. The students who continue to work hard throughout senior year have developed more intrinsic motivation, as they might enjoy learning and find certain subjects interesting.”

Both Mrs. Seferian and Mrs. Clarke bring up excellent points regarding senioritis. Practically all of the students who face senioritis suddenly regain their motivation at the beginning of their first year at college. So, maybe it’s the change of pace and environment that brings upon this change. As said by Aaron, although his grades are suffering, he feels relief mentally. It seems that this discussion of senioritis can realistically be tied to the mental health crisis facing American adolescents.

Many high school students see the months after getting accepted into college before it begins as the “golden months” of their high school careers. And for good reason. For the first time in a while, there aren’t many worries when it comes to academics. It’s a time to relax and enjoy the company of your friends while having an empty to-do list. After all, getting into college does, in a way, mark the end of one’s childhood, but opens up a door to a world of opportunity.

In any case, to seniors: make sure that high school is an experience to happily look back to. Keep up the good work!

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