Senioritis: The Search for a Cure

  • Paul Komin ’20

As the second semester begins to kick into high gear, it seems that many of our students here at SHP are doing just the opposite. High hopes that were built after months of hard work in the first semester, coupled with a rough transition out of Winter Break, have left many seniors feeling strong symptoms of “senioritis,” the infamous motivation and energy depleting illness that strikes in late winter every year.

However, it seems that the faculty have been expecting such an epidemic and have already taken action against it, as many seniors have found that they have been greeted back to school with a noticeable increase in their workloads in all classes. Some even claimed that the amount of time they’ve spent on homework in the past week or two is more than they ever spent when they had college applications on top of everything. And yet, it appears that this “keep them busy, keep them motivated” method utilized by our teachers is not all that effective, according to the seniors that are struggling with this illness: “I don’t even remember what my Schoology login is anymore,” one senior admits. “…I couldn’t even check my workload if I wanted to” — and the data shows.

Missing assignment and tardy rates have only accelerated drastically for Seniors as a result of this treatment attempt, and even reached an all-time high in this last week alone. At this point, as shocking as it may be, it seems like our seniors are beginning to consciously decide not to do or turn in their work, saying that not even good grades are enough to motivate them anymore. Just hear what some of our (mostly) anonymous affected have to say about the ailment: one senior recalls, “my hand started trembling viciously when I picked up my pencil for the first time this week… I think it has PTSD…”. “I’ve skipped more classes in this week alone than in the entirety of my high school career up to this point,” another states proudly. “I forgot my backpack at home this morning,” mutters Walker French, who had lost it on campus just the week before. “All of my teachers think I’m going on Kairos 54… can’t wait for my five-day weekend!”, one Senior shouts excitedly.

“Ah- haha… You can call me ‘Dixon Ticonderoga Number 2,’ ‘cause when it’s time to get schoolwork done, I’m never where I’m supposed to be,” another chuckles, not realizing how terrible of a joke that is. On top of all of those personal accounts, I’ve heard many of my fellow seniors voice their concerns about their cognitive abilities, saying that they are genuinely worried that they’ve “forgotten how to think or work,” a sentiment I completely understand and agree with. After using my hype and hopes for an easier second semester as my sole motivation to complete my work these past five months (and then having those hopes get shattered in my face), it’s becoming harder and harder to see an end to all of this work and these busy, endless nights that we seniors know all too well. And as a result, it may be impossible for me to rebuild those hopes and the desire to work hard to get things done on time until I receive the only known cure, graduation, in May with the rest of the Class of ‘20.

Until then, I have some advice for the faculty that could help treat the pain that senioritis brings to both seniors and teachers every single year: while it is true that most seniors feel disengaged, unmotivated, and indifferent in the majority of their classes, try not to take their disinterest personally. Your students with senioritis may not be as enthusiastic about learning a topic as you are teaching it, and grades may not affect that level of interest, so simply assigning more work isn’t likely to counteract that.

Instead, you should try to get your affected students to engage with you, as the teacher, not the material itself (yet) — because it will form a deeper connection with your students and vice versa. That would turn the work that you assign into more of a moral obligation for the students, rather than a mere obstacle to securing a solid grade. After all, the shame that comes with letting down a passionate teacher is likely to be a more effective slack-off deterrent for a second semester Senior than a bad grade is.

Photo from The BlackShirt

By Axel de Vernou

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