Senioritis is what we call a condition experienced by students in their senior year of high school, or even college.  It’s when there is a shocking dip in motivation, the feeling of being “done,” or burned out, and the student is putting in less effort into their school work.  

Senioritis can be a problem because it can cause a student’s grades to decline, which can still be an issue, even if that student is close to graduation. Colleges can decide to rescind acceptance after high school graduation, and employers hiring after college graduation can request to see GPA.  The University at Buffalo usually requests midyear grades from their applicants, which is a way to check how seniors in high school are doing academically in the second half of their school year.

The bottom line is that school performance during senior year is still kind of a big deal. But don’t despair; you or your student with senioritis can be managed with these five tips:


Five Tips to Manage Senioritis

  1. Remember the ultimate goal(s).  Even though motivation is at an all-time low when individuals are experiencing senioritis, students usually still have a “bigger picture” to reference in order to keep them in line.  Seniors want to go to their top-choice college. They want to graduate college and land their dream job.  It’s easy to forget about these goals when they’re fed up with the “busy work” assignments that don’t seem to be providing them with any benefit.  Or when they’re considering making time to study, but it’s easier to turn on Netflix, or go out with friends. Students can remind themselves of where they want to be in five years. Students can recognize that the tedious school work happening right now will still contribute to something more meaningful down the line.
  2. Vent to friends and family.  School is a long road, and students with senioritis have every right to voice their frustrations every now and then.  Talking about stressful situations and the emotions surrounding them can be incredibly helpful. Friends and family can be supportive by validating students’ feelings.  Say “A group presentation and a paper?!  Three online discussion boards?! That’s crazy.  I know how hard you’ve been working, and I’m proud of you.”  Let them vent, but try to end the conversation on a positive note.  End with something motivating (like pointing out something to look forward to in the future), and then the conversation will have been productive instead of negative.
  3. Set small goals.  Students with senioritis are struggling to complete their work, and they tend to let themselves get overwhelmed with everything they have to do.  Setting small goals means completing steady work without procrastination, which helps avoid staggering stress and burn-out. Feeling burned out is when a student reaches a point where they need some kind of break.  They can’t keep going at the rate they’re going; something has to change.  Usually what changes is a decline in school performance, which is a problem.  Setting small goals for every night, even if it’s just doing 20 minutes of studying, is very helpful for combating senioritis.  It also helps students to form positive habits that are easier to keep.
  4. Stay present.  Students with senioritis are constantly thinking about what it will be like when they are “finally done!”  Done with school, and on to the next step in their lives, whatever that may be. It can be very difficult to stay in the moment when the future is so bright and shiny.  Despite the temptation to be future-oriented, it’s important to focus on the here-and-now. It can help students feel happier, more motivated, and cope more efficiently with stress.  Try to find something positive in a certain moment or experience every day.
  5. Use self-care.  Self-care means planning out time to nurture physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  Senioritis can make students want to lie in bed all day watching television or playing video games.  It’s important to make sure they are eating in a balanced way, getting up to move, expressing their emotions in a healthy way, taking planned breaks, and making time to do whatever helps them to feel well.

Senioritis Isn’t Going Ruin You (if you keep it in check)

Senioritis is fairly normal, and it usually doesn’t cause a student’s life to implode into failure.  However, if it seems like the senioritis isn’t improving, even with using some of these tips, then that could be a sign that something more serious is going on.  Senioritis can share some of the same characteristics of depression and anxiety. Lack of motivation, fatigue, ongoing stress, and difficulty concentrating are some examples of behaviors that can point to just senioritis, or more problematic depression and anxiety.  Students know themselves best; if they feel like something is off, then it might be time to seek help. The therapists at Explore What’s Next can be a safe outlet to help students figure it out.

Perfectly fitting photo showing Senioritis by Sean Kong
Perfectly fitting words giving hope and advice about Senioritis by:

Christine Frank, LMSW

TraumaDepressionAnxietyEating/Weight issuesTweensTeensYoung Adults

Christine understands what it’s like when you’re trying your hardest and an invisible hand is holding you back. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or stupid, or unworthy of good things—it just means you could use some help. It helps to connect with someone who knows that your stories are worth listening to. Christine will hear your story. She’s a great listener.

Christine is easy-going, friendly, empathetic, non-judgmental. She’s funny and real in a down to earth way. She loves working with pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults to help them move through those difficult life transitions where a person can feel lost.

With Christine’s guidance and encouragement you can take the first step to a happier, healthier life.

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