There’s no cure in sight for senioritis

How to cure senioritis: don’t go to school, don’t do your homework, and repeat. Oh, wait! Maybe those are the symptoms of this pandemic that is taking over the minds of every senior in the nation.

For years, seniors across the country, especially second-semester seniors, have been prone to slacking off and procrastinating instead of doing the work necessary for school. This dreadful disease is called senioritis.

The suffix “itis” refers to inflammation, meaning senioritis refers to the irritation and tenderness of the senior. Symptoms include arriving late to class and shirking off work due to how numb the students are.

Math teacher Janet Johnson has seen the symptoms of senioritis in her AP Calculus AB class. “Most of my seniors do nothing, and they make class so that others can’t even learn. And they whine about everything we do,” she said.

On the other hand, East Unit Guidance Counselor Cheryl Abraham thinks the problem is students being sick of school in general and not just senior year. “It’s kind of an attitude that kids bring with them since freshman year, and it might get worse during senior year. You’re supposed to want to come here and be a student, and some kids can’t accept that,” she said.

What’s the point in trying?

This disease has been occurring for hundreds of years. Some seniors feel entitled to an easy year due to their long list of academic achievements and the stress that high school has brought on them. Other seniors who never cared or tried feel as if it’s pointless to still be here if they know they still won’t do a thing.

Once students have their lives after high school planned, whether it’s getting accepted to college or getting a good start on a career, is there really any reason to keep trying?

Senior Kari Cramer thinks she’s done her time and now it should be over. “I’ve already been accepted to college, so I don’t want to try anymore. Plus I’ve been in school 11 years, and I think I deserve one year of rest before it’s over and I have to start at a new school,” she said.

However, taking one year of rest could be dangerous for any senior continuing on to college. “When kids are just shutting down and taking the year off, you become unprepared for the next step. You have four years of college left and nothing really changes except you’re independent,” Abraham said.

Senior year is both fun and stressful

Senioritis is a pandemic, infecting every student it can get its hands on, but there have to be some brave people out there still doing homework, studying, and showing up to class every day. Senior Brandon O’Malley is the only upperclassman at Fairmont to have seven periods of Advanced Placement classes. Surely he must find a way to resist the temptation of slacking off … or can he?

“Some would say that it is impossible to slack off while taking hard classes senior year,” he said. “I have found a way.”

O’Malley thinks there isn’t much of a reason to continue working hard. “This is supposed to be one of the best years, if not the best year, of our lives. I’m not going to give up having a social life and having fun to worry about my grades. School is stressful enough as it is,” he said.

In addition to high school, other stressors for seniors can include work, college and career choices, relationships and extracurricular activities.

Cramer believes the anxiety this year is far greater than previous years. “Graduation is just looming over my head, and even though I’m ready for that magical date of June 3, the whole college thing is also still always there and still always stressing me out,” she said.

Senioritis seems to repeat itself with every new class of seniors; however, it seems to be growing worse and worse every year. “Ten years ago, I didn’t have this much trouble motivating my students. And they generally tried a lot harder than the seniors I have this year,” Johnson said.

Johnson thinks she tries her hardest to motivate her sluggish seniors, but in the end she can’t do that much. “A teacher’s only recourse in trying to stop senioritis is just to have the students’ worry about grades and college, and most of my students this year don’t seem to care,” she said.

Maybe they should care at least a little, since colleges do sometimes repeal admittance for high school seniors who have stopped working. “Most seniors get away with slacking because they put on a somewhat decent show and colleges expect a little drop,” Abraham said. “But there’s a reason all colleges require a final transcript, and they want to make sure you’re going to be successful. For instance, OSU actively watches to make sure your grades don’t drop completely.”

What’s the solution?

For years, teachers and administrators have been searching for a cure. Administrators and experts have suggested a “senior schedule” with either college PSEO classes or studying abroad. Utah Sen. Chris Buttars has proposed eliminating senior year entirely and argues there’s no reason for it because students who are going on to higher education want to advance to college early and will be in school anyway.

The program Wise Individual Senior Experience has been helping promising students get internships in order to stimulate seniors and their quest for knowledge. Yet, WISE is only for select schools and there aren’t many other programs out there like this.

Abraham knows that school isn’t for everyone, but she thinks that while they’re at Fairmont, they should make the most of it. “It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the only one we have. And really if you can succeed in school, you’re going to succeed in life. Any college you want to go to or job you want will think that way,” she said.

Cramer believes there’s nothing in the world that could stop her suffering from this seemingly incurable disease. “I’ve tried to just sit down and work, I’ve tried taking manageable breaks, but nothing works,” she said. “It’s basically impossible to not be a lazy senior. I haven’t met anyone who isn’t.”           

Even though O’Malley is an admitted procrastinator, he has some tips for seniors to stop dragging their feet. “If I was really looking to do better in school, things that have helped me in the past have worked really well. For instance, making a calendar of all your events and school, and prioritizing the work and activities that are most important to you and your grade,” he said. “And a big thing for now, remember you’re almost done and that once you leave, it’s almost assured you’re going to miss it.”