Senioritis: An insidious germ cloud that roams a myriad of high schools, lurking in the shadows between the cafeteria and the decrepit boiler room…seeking to devour wayward 12th graders! Cuidado! It’s the dilemma that parents and high school seniors face as they navigate through their senior year.
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“Not many teens realize that the minute they set foot into high school, they are sending a message to their teachers and peers…a message that rings loud and clear to others,” says Belinda Soto, a Fairfield County high school English teacher. “I’ve witnessed the demise of an ambitious 12th grader, enthusiastic about the A.P. English class lectures and readings in September. But she made a complete 180-degree turn and by March of the following year, unfortunately, she wasn’t prepared for the A.P. exam in the spring.”
Seniors respond to ‘Senioritis’
“I’m expected to lay-back and relax; it’s my last year. Seniors shouldn’t be piled up with work.” – Jasmin
“I actually got ‘Sophomoritis,’ I can’t afford to get off track. I need to strengthen my GPA this year. I’m hoping to get a 3.1.” – Nate
“I didn’t really get involved with people, but since last year, I’ve gotten closer and since I won’t see them after graduation, I want to have a social life, rather than doing work all of the time,” – Christian
“I think ‘Senioritis’ depends on how well you did during your earlier high school years. If you worked hard as a sophomore or junior than you’re probably going to get it during the 12th grade. And since I’m growing up, I want more freedom and responsibility.” – Andrés
A clinical perspective on ‘Senioritis’
Nicholas Strouse, Director at Westport Family Counseling in Connecticut, says that while it is not an official American Psychiatric Association diagnosis, “Senioritis” is actually a real condition that many high school seniors go through. “They become inattentive, unmotivated, and indifferent about anything that matters to adults,” says Strouse. “However, it is not because they have caught a virus or because they have changed their character. The reality is that 17 and 18 year olds are in one of the most intense parts of a life cycle called, “individuation.” He explains that while individuation starts when we’re kids, “senioritis” is the peak of the transition from childhood to adulthood. “Leaving childhood behind, and taking on the responsibilities of the world is a pretty scary idea, when it first hits high schoolers,” Strouse adds. “Who wouldn’t drag their feet, look down, and avoid anything that could lead to more responsibility (like doing homework and graduating)?”
Advice from the pros
We spoke to high school teachers and counselors, who offer these reminders and advice to seniors who may succomb to the Senioritis germ:
- Every time you stroll in late to your class, your teacher is marking you tardy! In some area high schools, students who are consistently tardy are apt to lose academic credit. Is it really worth it? Patos al agua! Llevántate temprano!
- For every assignment that’s handed in late, points are taken off. Don’t jeopardize that hard-earned GPA just because you’re feeling uninspired.
- Beware! You don’t want to land in the red in terms of graduation credits. Unexcused absences can make or break your ability to graduate.
- You’ve gotten your college acceptance letter! But keep in mind that most universities require you to maintain good grades and finish well. Some schools even have the financial revoking rights, meaning that a drop in your GPA can cost you thousands in scholarship or grant money.
- You can be kept from getting college credit for AP courses if you’re not prepared for the AP exams.
- Beware of a boyfriend or girlfriend who might persuade you to cut class and hang out. Don’t sacrifice your future!
- Don’t be afraid to confront a fanatical coach! It’s important to be well-rounded. But if long hours on the soccer field are taking first place and homework or projects are on the back-burner, it may be time to schedule a meeting or phone call with Coach Fulano de Tal!
To rid yourselves of “Senioritis,” set academic, personal, and career goals. Reflect on the following: Did I do a good job on my assignment? Am I managing my behavior and responsibilities well? Have I found out about a career that interests me? Is it time for me to reconsider my current peer group? The high school experience will come and go quickly. It offers some of the most rewarding times and heartfelt memories of your life. But remember to keep “Senioritis” at bay. It’s not the time to slack off; success in your senior year is crucial to the shaping of your future!
Editor’s Note: The following article is one in a series presented in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and designed to help parents prepare to send their kids off to college, brought to you by www.colgate.com/hazlau.