Junioritis: It’s real — and severe

April 23, 2017 — by Elizabeth Lee

Junior introduces a new idea, Junioritis, in which a student lacks the motivation to start the vast amount of homework they have. 

Staring blankly at the pile of Calculus and U.S. History textbooks and standardized testing prep books at my desk in my room after school, I sighed as the list of things I had to do seemed never-ending. Lacking the motivation to begin anything, I opened Facebook, looking to my friends for encouragement to start studying, only to end up ranting together about all the things we had to do.

In contrast to senioritis, a result of not having work to do or simply not caring much about school work, junioritis is a consequence of being overworked to a point where the student has no motivation to study despite knowing the number of tasks that have to be done.

In fact, psychologists have dubbed this condition “learned helplessness,” in which a person “suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from persistent failure to succeed. It is thought to be an underlying cause of depression,” according to Britannica.com.  

In addition to the immense amount of homework and studying required from classes such as AP U.S. History and AP Chemistry, “failing” on multiple tests and quizzes can lead students into a state of learned helplessness: “If I can’t do well by studying as much as I am right now, what else can I do?”

As a second-semester junior in the midst of studying for AP Tests, the ACT, SAT Subject Tests and upcoming finals that are given prior to AP Tests, the amount of studying appears endless. Finishing homework doesn’t clear my slate. It simply means I have more studying to do for APs, and pausing AP studying only commences studying for SAT Subject tests. I would need 36 hours in a day in order to complete all that I should be doing.

Despite the endless stacks of assignments and obligations, I often spend more time sitting at my desk thinking about the work I have to do rather than actually doing it. Knowing that finishing one thing only means having to start studying for something else causes a lack of motivation.

Instead of immediately attempting to tackle all the homework and studying, juniors often end up complaining with friends or constantly stress-eating while watching Netflix. Sleep-deprived and moody from the heavy workload, we lose the motivation to achieve our goals.

In order to alleviate this feeling of helplessness, students should make a reasonable list of things to do each day or break up their studying so they don’t cram at the last minute, increasing the feeling of stress. Also, juniors can reward themselves after finishing a certain amount of work, such as going out for food or hanging out with friends for a few hours.

According to teachhub.com, students should find motivation through peers for support to get through “learned helplessness.” Also, teachers should encourage and praise their students more often with effort-related feedback so that the student begins to gain a more positive attitude about themselves.

Without a doubt, junior year is a tough year no matter what measures are taken to reduce stress. There are times when we must sacrifice time studying for one test to study for another assessment.

Maybe we won’t do as well as we want on one APUSH test or an AP Chemistry midterm, but in the end, mental and physical health should always be prioritized over schoolwork. Sometimes it’s better to take a break, take a deep breath and then begin tackling the tasks to do one at a time — only then will the symptoms of junioritis lessen and the feeling of accomplishment increase.

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