Senioritis draining motivation, attendance, and grades

By Izack Kessler, Opinion Editor & Chief Illustrator

Izack Kessler

As we slowly approach Semester One finals, seniors like me are starting to notice one of the most damaging afflictions of the school year creeping up: Senioritis. But what even is Senioritis? It is the lack of motivation students experience towards the end of their courses or school year. While many people think it is a joke, or really just an excuse, it shows both in seniors’ grades and in the quality of work they turn in. 

Senioritis “symptoms” can be a drop in grades, not finishing assignments, procrastination, or even skipping or sleeping in class. While these signs don’t directly equal senioritis, repetitive, harmful habits like these can be very damaging to seniors.

As their final year progresses, seniors may lose the value of turning in work and keeping up their grades. Some feel they’ve worked hard to keep up with the workload and to maintain top scores. However, when they sense the end of the year approaching, that hard work has a tendency to tail off. 

One ITA teacher explains it this way: “The answer to this question [do seniors’ attendance decline throughout the year?] really comes down to how much a student values learning. And THAT is what has changed – rapidly. During the year of online schooling, seniors logged in. They did their work. They understood that their education was important. Kids in 2022 don’t seem to value learning at all.” 

However, senioritis is more than missing work and plummeting grades. It’s about showing up to school on time, or even showing up at all. “A handful of students every year progressively stop coming to class,” says another ITA teacher, presently teaching two senior classes.  He adds, “Some others will show up in body, but not in mind. 

Part of being actively involved and “‘in mind” is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, retain our well-being, and get a good night’s sleep.

Students’ overall mental health is key to stability and the ability to routinely turn work in on time. When students feel drained, tired, or overwhelmed, this can affect the quality of their work and worsen motivation to get work done. For students to properly handle the workload of school, home, relationships, and potentially a job, they should be in the best headspace possible. 

A lack of sleep can really drag down a student, especially during their morning classes. 72.7% of high school students get less sleep than they should (eight to ten hours), and 93% of US high schools begin before 8:30 a.m (as reported by the Sleep Foundation). The Better Health Channel states that the effects of teenage sleep deprivation are concentration difficulties, mentally ‘drifting off’ in class, a shortened attention span, and memory impairment. The list also includes reduced academic and sporting performance, clumsiness, moodiness, and aggression. 

The effects of sleep deprivation can really take a toll not only on seniors but also for high schoolers in general. A lack of sleep can cause a downturn in mood, which may harm a teenager’s social life as well.

It is difficult to keep up a positive attitude and healthy routines when out-of-school factors can constrain students from achieving their very best. Pressure from parents to complete assignments and to maintain acceptable grades can really take a toll on students’ overall health and add to their existing stressors. The “academic bar” set for students by some parents may be too high for what they can accomplish while maintaining a normal balance in their daily lives. This can potentially invoke feelings of worthlessness or laziness within the student, further halting their progress. 

However, says one of our senior English teachers, pressure from parents can keep students from falling behind.“It’s getting to the point that I can tell at the beginning of the year whether or not a senior is going to put effort into the class (or participate in it).  However, some DO surprise me in turning things around. I’ve noticed that parental involvement and pressure still works when you are 17 or 18 years old.”

While senioritis can interfere with seniors and their daily lives, it is about balance and taking care of yourself. For fellow seniors, I advise you all to enjoy this upcoming winter break and to rest and relax.