Combating senioritis: trying to keep students engaged all the way to the finish line 

February 19, 2024 — by Natalie Chua and Parav Manney
Graphic by Leyna Chan
As their high school journey closes and practical incentives disappear, many seniors find themselves lacking the motivation to do schoolwork. 
Based on teacher and student observations, many seniors are focusing less on schoolwork to spend more time unwinding and adjusting to a new period in their life.  

English teacher Erick Rector, who teaches this year two classes of AP Language and Composition, sees the signs of senioritis — lack of engagement, not turning in work, being late or not coming to class — appearing at the start of second semester.  

 “In the second semester, I definitely find that seniors’ grades tend to drop,” Rector said. “I did see some senioritis in the first semester, surprisingly, but this form of senioritis was more so about what their attention was on during class. The students were working on their schoolwork, but they just prioritized their college applications more.” 

Rector anticipates that this trend may worsen as the semester goes on and acceptances rolling in, further cementing the idea that high school doesn’t matter as students arrive late to their first-period classes and extend their lunch periods. 

History teacher Kirk Abe, who teaches regular and AP Government, echoed these sentiments, noting a significant drop in grades for seniors since the beginning of the second semester. However, he also finds that senioritis is often used as an excuse for slacking off.

 “When it comes to senioritis, I just like to say it’s not real: there’s no excuse for tardiness, missing class or not doing assignments,” he said. “It’s all in the head.”

Seniors say the condition results from one and a half years of intense academic pressure coming to an end. Most of the time seniors find themselves lacking motivation and procrastinating on homework assignments, often doing at the last minute during lunch or tutorial. 

Alana Liu is one of the seniors who admits to falling prey to procrastination.  

“I don’t put aside academics because, at the end of the day, I do the work,” Liu said. “I just can’t get myself to do it promptly and diligently.” 

When she isn’t preoccupied by last-minute homework, Liu frequently enjoys off-campus lunches with her friends and returning to her last period tardy. Sometimes, Liu adventures to the vending machines during class and even visits her other friends in other classess. 

After school, Liu prioritizes her daily 2-hour nap instead of going to the library as she did during her junior year. 

“Now that I have more free time I can go to 49ers (gym) often with my friend and then pig out at Japanese markets like Mitsuwa,” Liu said.

Joshua Hunter said he has a mild case of senioritis. Hunter identified college-related milestones as possible triggers for the rise in apathy toward school.

 “I started getting it as soon as I finished my most recent batch of college apps,” he said. “College is really the marker of it all — you need to get good grades for it, apply, and after that, you just have to maintain your grades to a certain extent so you don’t get rescinded. It’s like the end of a marathon — you can start walking it off.”

Still, Hunter strives to maintain his overall academic record and plans to concentrate on studying for his AP exams. To him, senioritis means participating in fewer extracurricular activities and dropping these activities more frequently when they do not work out. 

He also pointed out that seniors’ dynamics with teachers begin to change. 

“There’s also no point in retaining a strong relationship with a teacher you don’t like because there’s no more letter of recommendation,” he said. “It’s over. There aren’t any future years for it — you’re moving forward into a new stretch of your life.”

Additionally, drastic senioritis that causes students’ grades to slip drastically puts them at risk of a college rescinding them. Guidance counselor Brian Safine points out that there is a vague gray area as to what colleges seek out when rescinding students; however, they should be cautiously aware of receiving D or F as a grade. Still, from his past experiences, Safine estimates that less than 1% of total admission offers are rescinded. 

“If a student is unable to finish their senior year strongly, they may learn even in the summer time, that they’re no longer welcome at a university,” Safine said. “It’s really important to be proactive about communicating with colleges about dropping extracurriculars or receiving a D or F.” 

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