Senioritis: A Rite of Passage or a Problem?

As spring arrives, IMSA’s seniors are eagerly counting down the days until graduation. However, with this excitement often comes a phenomenon known as “senioritis.” This term refers to a senior’s decline in motivation and effort during their final semester of high school. But, what causes this apathy, and is it really a bad thing?


After spending three years in the same stressful environment, working as hard as they can everyday, it’s natural for people to want a change. At a school like IMSA, many seniors are just tired: whether it’s because of stressful classes like Mod Phys (Modern Physics), managing clubs, or doing housekeeping for the fifth week in a row. Seniors may feel like they’ve already accomplished everything they need to in order to graduate, and stop putting in as much effort as a result. Going from first semester to second semester can also be overkill for some seniors. In many cases, seniors have already received college acceptance letters by this point and may have a good idea of where they’ll be headed the following fall. This can also lead to feelings of senioritis – students start to mentally check out of high school and focus on the next chapter of their lives. Additionally, the second semester often has fewer academic requirements than the first semester. Many seniors will have already completed all of the required courses for graduation, leaving them with a lighter course load. This can make it easier for seniors to slack off and coast through their final semester. Especially at a school like IMSA, where juniors and seniors take the same courses, it’s easy for a senior to find themselves dependent on other people, who are trying their hardest in a class. Senioritis, in concept, is pretty harmless, but what are the actual effects?

On one hand, senioritis can be seen as a rite of passage. After years of hard work, seniors may feel like they’ve earned the right to take it easy for a little while. They may want to spend more time socializing with friends, participating in extracurricular activities, or just enjoying their final months of high school. Why should someone start trying as hard as possible in a class like Multivariable Calculus when they can have fun and make CLASH as memorable as possible instead? After sweating out Organic Chemistry II in the second semester of their junior year, why should they try at that same level in Cancer Biology the second semester of their senior year? Senioritis can also be an opportunity for students to build stronger relationships with their peers and teachers. If students are participating in extracurricular activities or spending more time socializing, they may be able to form new connections and deepen existing ones. They may also have more opportunities to engage with their teachers and seek guidance or support as they prepare for the next phase of their lives. The second semester of a senior’s year can also provide an opportunity to develop important life skills such as time management and prioritization. If students are juggling multiple responsibilities, they will need to learn how to balance their time and make choices about where to focus their energy. Since they don’t have to deal with classes at the level that they used to, they can experiment with their time and learn strategies that work for them. That buffer time can be just what some seniors need to fully prepare for the jump to college. 

On the other hand, senioritis can lead to lower grades and a decline in academic performance. This can be especially problematic for students who are still hoping to get into a particular college or who need to maintain a certain GPA in order to keep scholarships or other forms of financial aid. Also, senioritis can have a negative impact on students’ work habits and overall mindset. If students become accustomed to coasting through their final semester, they may struggle to readjust to the demands of college or the workforce. And while seniors can use their second semester to gain important skills like time-management, it can also lead to a lack of direction or focus, which can cause them to forget other important preparations they need to make before college comes. This could lead to missed opportunities, like scholarships or research opportunities. Also, a lack of regard for classes could lead to a lack of critical thinking or problem solving skills, which in turn could cause an overall decline in mental acuity. That’d be downright dangerous for some students who are going to harder colleges or special programs that require them to hit the ground running in the beginning of their college career. Sure, the adjustment to college academics might be quick for some, but riding on a quick adjustment isn’t the safest way to start college. What’s more is that, while seniors can use this time to further their friendships and social skills, some can instead isolate themselves from their friends and teachers, which could damage their mental health or make them feel complacent. This becomes an even bigger problem when you consider that a senior is moving on to college or the workforce – a time in one’s life when they should have self-trust and confidence in themselves. If a senior isolates themselves, it could lead them down a well of despair, unable to claw their way back up. Essentially, while seniors enjoy their break, they better make sure they don’t also lose themselves along the way. Like this year’s CLASH, when residence hall 1503 got overtaken by 1501. A bit of a fumble, as some may say.


All in all, this article probably won’t mean much to a senior who’s absorbed in senioritis. I mean, when I’m a senior, there’s a good chance that I’ll be in the same boat. After three years of being at IMSA, maybe already accepted into a college, it makes sense that people want a break. A break – from the stress, the countless nights with little sleep, the “my essay is due in five hours” grind – is well deserved. While there are an infinite amount of drawbacks and counterarguments someone can make about the benefits of senioritis, there’s also a near five month gap where seniors are barely doing anything besides waiting for college. If they choose to take a break with that time, who can stop them? They just need to make sure that they’re being careful – we wouldn’t want them souring their final months of high school, or worse…

About the Author

Ashwin Nair
I'm Ashwin Nair, a current senior at IMSA from Carol Stream, IL. I'm the Acronym's Managing Editor, and if you want to catch me in 05B wing with my friends doing whatever.

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