June 23, 2018

Apprehending the phenomena; how teachers can handle ‘senioritis’

Jacob Nangle '18, Staff Writer

As the end of the school year looms on the horizon, high schoolers face final exams and drag themselves through the last few weeks of school. For seniors, however, the end of the school year marks the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, which is why completing busy-work and homework assignments becomes increasingly laborious for the soon-to-be-graduates. This is ‘senioritis’: the laziness that befalls seniors every year throughout the last few months of school.

Being a senior, and having a nasty case of senioritis, I have experienced first-hand the phenomena which causes procrastination, laziness, and makes school work feel like a chore. Once accepted into college, your energy level decreases and the importance of high school grades and homework becomes nonexistent.

A decrease in productivity is the same malady affecting seniors across the nation. According to Annie Yu ’18, “I have zero motivation. I actively procrastinate because the only way I do work is if a deadline is staring me right in the face.”

Kat Cohen’s blog on senioritis, published in The Huffington Post, cites the dangers of the ‘seasonal affliction’ sweeping over those about to graduate. Cohen argues that the biggest and only reason for high school seniors to keep up their motivation is colleges rescinding their applications if they see an abrupt drop in grades. While the article lists several ways to avoid ruining your academic career in the last month of school, Cohen’s case makes me wonder if there’s an action teachers can take to help motivate students struggling with senioritis?

Traditionally, the beginning of the senior project program shrinks class sizes, as about half to two-thirds of seniors are working on projects that exempt them from classes. Working on these projects helps these students as their focus wavers in the last several weeks of school. This leaves the remaining students with a teacher who will usually factor the side-effects of senioritis into their lesson plans, keeping students interested and productive in classes.  

English teacher Mr. Luke Day increased student engagement with two significant senior assignments at the end of the year.

“In one of my classes I changed the senior paper and presentation which is traditionally done at the end of the year, and I do that in third quarter now,” he said. Day later explained that he did that as there was a decrease in quality senior papers and students were not taking the benchmark speeches seriously. As for combating senioritis, “I don’t know that I do. One of the best ways I’ve always handled senioritis is just to ignore it. You can get a lot accomplished just by ignoring senioritis,” Day said..

In Day’s opinion, ignorance is bliss. To react to senioritis is to fuel the fire that could contribute to the downfall of a senior’s academic career. That said, adjusting the curriculum slightly is a smart precaution that all teachers should take. The remedy for senioritis can be found in accommodating the mindset of a senior throughout this time and by turning a head when the outcries come in.

“I have definitely tried to create a more laid back atmosphere during term four…At the beginning of the term I clearly laid out my expectations. This included the grading policy changes and how class would be structured,” explained math teacher Ms. Stephanie Welch. She later added how her classes have responded positively to her new agenda, thus allowing her to proceed with a slightly scaled-back version of the class.

As far as the execution goes, scaling back a class — even if it is just slightly — can be an effective way to accommodate senior work ethic while in their last month of school. With college just around the corner, and the phenomena of senioritis in full swing, teachers have a multitude of tricks up their sleeves which make the last month of school more than just tolerable. Although seniors may scoff at the notion of working throughout the spring, they might look back on these efforts fondly when they graduate from college.

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