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The Senior Slide

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The Senior Slide  

By Storm Medrano and Guadalupe Trujillo 


Senior year, the final stretch of high school is often met with a mix of anticipation and uneasiness. As the closing chapter of high school life unfolds, a mixture of excitement and exhaustion sets in. With the end in sight, seniors' motivation seems to dwindle. This is the clashing world of senioritis and the subject of our exploration in this article. 

What is Senioritis? 

Senioritis is a term often used to describe a peculiar state of mind that high school seniors find themselves in: it is a mix of anticipation, exhaustion, and a curious lack of motivation. According to a study conducted by Omniscient, a student magazine, 78 percent of all seniors across the United States experience senioritis. Our students find senioritis to be a quite common thing among them. Senior at Greenfield High School Latai Matelau tells our reporters that, “After putting in years of hard work, it’s natural to feel burnt out.” During the senior year, it is as if the finish line is within reach, but the desire to sprint towards it diminishes. This senioritis is a blend of academic burnout, the excitement of nearing freedom, and the anxiety of stepping into the unknown. Senior Victor Torres shares with us that, “After high school is done, I'll have the freedom to make the choices I want to make such as what college I want to go to. This is exciting for me as it’s a new chapter in life, but also scary as I’d feel alone to figure things out on my own.”  And the phenomenon is more than just a catchy term. Senioritis is a genuine experience that can have profound consequences. For some, senioritis is a temporary phase, but for others, it can lead to a significant drop in grades, missed deadlines, and even withdrawn college admissions. 

Senoritis Photo

A Senior who just can't even. Photograph by Daniel Silva Gaxiola.

Navigating Senioritis 

The first step to navigating your senioritis is acknowledgment. Recognizing the symptoms such as a sudden drop in motivation, a carefree attitude towards deadlines, or a general feeling of burnout, is a crucial step for seniors. Once identified, it is easier to formulate a plan to combat the senioritis that has infected you. 

    One practical approach to dealing with senioritis is “Breaking down larger tasks into smaller ones,” explains a GHS Senior Bridget Ramos tells The Bruins Eye that this is her strategy when feeling overwhelmed. Breaking down a task could be as simple as creating a “to-do” list or setting milestones for larger projects. This method not only makes tasks seem less intimidating but also provides a sense of accomplishment with each small victory.  

    According to Genz Her, a youth-led organization, incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can also be beneficial. Mindfulness practices can help manage stress, improve focus, and promote a more positive outlook, which can all counteract the effects of senioritis. Mindfulness can include meditation, deep breathing exercises, or taking a few moments each day to simply reflect on your experiences and emotions. 

    Maintaining a good balance between your academic life and social life is another key strategy. While it is important to stay committed to academic responsibilities, it is equally as important to allow time for relaxation and social activities. Keeping a good balance between these two important aspects can help prevent burnout. For example, if you have many hefty academic tasks, you can celebrate their completion by participating in a social activity.  

    Keeping focused on your long-term goals can also help navigate senioritis. According to Latai Matelau, “Vision boards are good motivation,” as they can give the incentive to focus on long-term goals. A vision board for a future college or university would be especially helpful to seniors for motivation. Great focus will come from planning out a future in a college you would like to go to. While the gratification of ignoring responsibilities may be temporary, remembering the bigger picture, whether that be college, a career, or any other aspirations- can provide you with the motivation to push through. 

    Some people believe senioritis can be avoided with the right attitude coming into the classroom. Our very own teacher at Greenfield High School, Evangelina Mateo, has explained to us how she avoids senioritis in her class. She says, “Senioritis? I haven’t seen that from my students because, from the very beginning, I told them to come prepared in my class. After all, you do not want to affect your graduation.” Ms. Mateo sets elevated expectations for her students to keep them always working and on task. She explains to our seniors, why seniors can’t slack off, “Twelfth graders, you will be working and at the same time you will be exposed to other students in university or colleges, you will be competing outside of high school, you will be competing in the real world and I do not want my students to be less than prepared for what is outside in the real world.” Mateo adds, “I want my students to be prepared for life and their college and for whatever career they want to pursue.”  She sets higher expectations on purpose to prepare her students for the future, including helping them avoid senioritis. Setting high expectations benefits students by increasing confidence and more often than not, improving their academic performance. It is also important to keep in mind that high expectations can also harm seniors by adding to their anxieties and stress.  

Psychological Aspects of Senioritis 

Senioritis is not just a phase of academic burnout or laziness, but a psychological transition that seniors go through as they prepare themselves to leave the familiar environment of high school. For students, leaving home for college or the military their living situation and home life are also going to change drastically. This transition can trigger a mix of emotions like excitement, anxiety, fear, and sadness, which all contribute to senioritis. 

    Senioritis does not only have to do with a lack of motivation from students, but it also has to do with the amount of stress they gain in their senior year. According to the Viking Journal, a student-led digital newspaper, one of the key psychological elements of senioritis is the anticipation of change. Preparing to move on to college or the workforce means facing a significant life transition. This anticipation of change causes stress and anxiety which in certain cases can also lead to a lack of motivation or carelessness in academic tasks to finish them quickly. In an interview with Greenfield High School’s school psychologist, Esmerelda Vasquez, she told us that she has “had more seniors come in for stress than for lack of motivation.”  Vasquez believes that pressure and stress play a large part in causing senioritis. “You have a lot of pressure when you’re a senior and you have that pressure of like “I have to do it” and “I have to do it well” and then you feel the pressure from your parents and you do feel the pressure all over the place but you also have to understand that this is just the beginning of the pressure of life,” says Vazquez. Some pressures that adults face frequently but become normal over time are things like work, commuting, and rent.   

    Another key psychological factor that contributes to senioritis is the sense of impending freedom. After going through years of structured education and home life, the prospect of independence can be both exhilarating and unnerving. This realization of change can get different reactions from students.  According to school psychologist Vasquez. “You get both ends of the spectrum, you have some that are motivated and want to do it and now they’re feeling the pressure their senior year and then you get those that are like “I don’t care.”  The anticipation of newfound freedom in young adulthood after graduation can sometimes lead to uncertainty and disregard for academic responsibilities during the current school year, classic symptoms of senioritis. The fear of the unknown when entering a new life can be overwhelming and can cause seniors to retreat into a state of apathy, further fueling senioritis. Evelyn, a senior, has a fear of moving out for college and living on her own. This makes her so overwhelmed that she cannot focus on current important assignments.  

    Understanding these psychological factors can help in managing senioritis. It is important for students who are experiencing this to be able to understand that it is a natural part of the transition from high school into the real world. With the right strategies being used, it is possible to navigate through senioritis and emerge more prepared for the future.