What is Senioritis?

As we enter the second half of the American academic year, a familiar feeling of irreverence inevitably begins to set in amongst the ranks of our high school seniors. This feeling, known as “senioritis,” inspires students to do anything but their school work once their first acceptance letters from colleges begin to roll in. They’ve done it. They’ve reached the next level. Why continue to try to do work that no longer holds nearly as much weight as it did before they knew that they’d be going to their top-choice college?

How to handle this feeling?

And, truthfully, there is a fair point amidst this short-sighted line of thought. At this point, high school seniors have been attending school for as long as they can remember. Never in their lives have they known anything but the five-day work week with seasonal breaks sprinkled in for flavor. Therefore, it isn’t the worst thing if they let their minds wander a bit once they’ve achieved their college goals. That is, as long as they don’t let their grades drop to a point of no return. A good rule of thumb is to keep one’s grades within a full letter grade of their previous semester’s in each class. However, even this rule leaves a large amount of time open for students to have a break after they’ve received their acceptances. 

How to Channel Senioritis

Unfortunately, this break too often takes the form of skipping classes once or twice a week to go hang out at a fast food place or play video games in a friend’s basement. This lackadaisical version of senioritis can, in turn, spiral into an inappropriately lax lifestyle for a senior hoping to maintain their offer of admission to a prestigious university. Therefore, in this post, I recommend a few ways students can channel their natural feelings of senioritis into positive experiences of exploration that will help them figure out what they would like to do in life. A list of such activities is presented below: 

Shadow someone in a job in which you might be interested – One of the best ways to spend one’s time during senior year is to figure out what one might be interested in doing in college and beyond. And what better way to find out what a job is like than by actually getting under the hood and seeing how it’s done. Asking a neighbor, family friend, or family member to shadow them at their job is a great way to activate your network and express interest that could lead to a more meaningful connection down the road. Shadowing a trusted mentor at their job repurposes the act of skipping class into that of “career exploration” during the school day. Many high schools even offer some version of “senior experience” that is essentially a formalized shadowing opportunity at the end of the academic year. 

Reach out to a professor at your top-choice school – Professors love connecting with their students, and it’s never too early to start crafting connections with folks who you look up to. Therefore, if there is a specific professor or department head in your favorite subject at your future university, reach out to them! Express your interest in their subject and maybe even schedule a time to get coffee with them when you visit for admitted students day. You’ll get a fun conversation out of the deal, and, hey, you might just meet your future major advisor or honors thesis mentor. You never know! Either way, you’ll be able to get the lay of the land at your future home through the eyes of a trusted guide. 

Create a “dream list” and then come up with the steps to reach each dream – The one thing I wish I did more of in high school was goal-setting. Setting goals for yourself is vital to making sure that you get the most out of your college experience and, thus, feel satisfied with the opportunities offered by your degree once you graduate. That being said, coming up with a list of “dream” jobs or opportunities and then charting a path toward those dreams is a fun and productive way to crack into the world of goal-setting. You might even get to know yourself a little bit better while completing this activity, and getting closer to our internal (and, perhaps, even subconscious) desires is what allows us to find long-term happiness! 

Step out of your comfort zone – If all of the options that I mention above sound like complete malarkey, then at least go out, get creative, and have fun doing something new. Have you always wanted to learn how to paint but have had “too much school work” to head over to that art studio at the end of the block? Go! Have you loved listening to the piano since you were a kid? Try to learn some of your favorite songs on your family’s old Casio. Do some traveling. Meet new people. Write! Go do something that you’ve dreamed of doing since you were a kid. Because, before you know it, you’ll be subject to another academic calendar, another set of classes, another tall stack of responsibilities, and it will be too late.