Will it kill you? No, but you might be exhausted, suffer dropping grades and start going to class wearing your pj’s, if you go at all. It can be horrific, dreaded and feared. It’s cured only by graduation.It is senioritis.
Senioritis is “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences and lower grades,” according to merriam-webster.com.
Gail Regan, assistant professor of psychology at Castleton State College, defines senioritis as “wanting to be out of school.”
“It means inflammation, it means maybe the effect spreads,” Regan said. “It’s a feeling, an attitude, both.”
Professor of psychology John Klein dove into three psychological reasons for senioritis.
The learning explanation is since students have finished most of their work, they “get the expectation that they can coast home,” Klein said. Second, there is an understanding of achievement motivation, meaning when a student strives to achieve academic success and doesn’t succeed, he or she can blame the failure on lack of effort, not lack of ability or intelligence. The last reason is the weather, Klein said.
“We’re so grateful for a nice day, we want to get outside,” he said.
Outside of the classroom, seniors are focused on what will come next for them in life, in most cases finding a job. Judith Carruthers, director of career development at CSC, believes senioritis evolves for other reasons.
“I don’t think it’s fear of failure, it’s fear of success,” Carruthers said. “They’re coming to the end of a training period and going out in the real world, school is the real world.”
She added that seniors are under a lot of pressure at this point in the semester and soon will become the “little fish in a big pond,” and have to start again.
“It always seems to hit at the same time – about three quarters or seven eighths of the way through.It’s comical to watch,” she said. “Everybody is affected by it in some way, this excitement or fear.”
What are the symptoms?
“Not being able to focus, too much time at the Dog,” Klein said with a smile.
Breana Claro, a grad student at CSC, said her homework gets done later and later.
“Class is dreadful, driving here is dreadful,” she said.
Senior Rob Doran said he has senioritis. He said the first thing he thinks when he wakes up is “I want to stay in bed,” and laziness and no motivation are his symptoms.”I just want to sit down with a beer in my hand and relax,” he said. “It’s more of an effort to go to class now. I’ll skip if I know I’m doing well and feel comfortable.”
Then there are the seniors who don’t think they’re affected at all. Senior Everett Thurston, who has one degree and is currently working for an associate’s degree, believes senioritis affects the four-year student more.
“Real life starts after this,” he said.
Senior Nakita Baldic, a five-year student, said for her, senioritis has affected her for the past two years. She said she’s getting anxious and doesn’t want to be doing work anymore.
“Some of the stuff I feel like I’m just going through the motions,” she said. “Let’s go to the next thing. I’m trying to wrap it up.”
As graduation approaches and seniors show few signs of life in the classroom, professors begin to think about what will become of their students after they leave.
“I worry about it, the consequences it will have,” said Dawn Saunders, economics professor at CSC. “You get one shot at being in college and you might look back and wish you had taken advantage. Take advantage of it now and go to class.”
Klein said he believes that senioritis can be damaging to a GPA and from his perspective, these students have underachieved.
After college, former students are in a new stage of life looking for the next step and for those who had senioritis, it can be a slow process.
“There are those that go continue on with what they’re doing now. They’re taking a breath and then they’re gonna go on and take the leap. They’re catching their breath,” Carruthers said. “It’s progression.”
Claro said she doesn’t think it will affect her future or her job search, even though for her, senioritis began the week before April break. She said it is “just a phase.”
The future will happen whether a student suffered from senioritis or not. Although there may not be a specific cure, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms.
“I don’t think you can cure the feeling, but you can modify behavior,” Saunders said.
“The way to get through it is to talk it out with professors, roommates. There are lots of people to help you,” Carruthers said.
For seniors, school work, jobs and personal lives can become daunting.
“Take control of your life. Prioritize stuff,” Klein advised. “Read fiction, run, anything to vary things.”
There’s one thing seniors should keep in mind.
“It’s not terminal. It’s not fatal – in most cases,” Carruthers said with a laugh.