Resisting the Temptations of Senioritis

June 04, 2008

With people spending more time indoors to escape the cold, the flu runs rampant this time of year, and there’s no shortage of it among the people I know. But what’s even more prevalent this time of year is an affliction that probably affects more teenagers than anything else. Its symptoms are obvious, its potential for damage is great, and unlike the flu, there is no vaccine or medical treatment. What is it? Senioritis.

Of course, it’s not a medical illness, but it is a serious problem that a lot of high school seniors must reckon with at some point. Senioritis is the tendency to relax during senior year, especially second semester, and common signs are skipping homework for “Dancing with the Stars” and skipping class for breakfast at Denny’s. When all the SAT tests have been taken, all the applications have been sent, and four years of high school are almost over, it just seems natural to sit back and take a breather. But to college admissions officers, senioritis is an unacceptable way to end one’s high school career.

I have been quite frightened by my journalism teacher’s experience with senioritis. With above average grades in high school she was accepted to UC San Diego, which is one of the top UC schools. She got a D however, in AP Calculus in her final semester in high school. When the admissions department at UCSD discovered this, they rescinded her acceptance to the school. This resulted in her going to a small school in Colorado instead, which turned out for the best, of course. But having her acceptance rescinded must have been devastating. I think a lot of people don’t realize that that’s something that happens on a regular basis. If a college you’ve been accepted to sees you slacking, they can simply terminate their offer of admission with no questions asked.

Fortunately I have not felt the slightest bit of senioritis this year. This may be because I developed an immunity after being stricken last year with junioritis – a similar but much more dangerous affliction – although not before I could stop extensive damage to my transcript. Before the second semester of my junior year, I had over a 4.0 cumulative GPA. When second semester rolled around, I struggled in my Advanced Trigonometry class, maintaining an ugly D the majority of the semester. Although I ended up with a C, the impact of that performance in one class affected my confidence in others, particularly Physics. Second semester of junior year is now a dark spot on my transcript (a very dark spot), and that’s a real problem because that’s the semester colleges look at most closely in their examination of one’s academic performance in high school since it is the most recent semester on the transcript they see. Nevertheless, it hasn’t been like that in my senior year at all, which is certainly due to having experienced it already.

I think another reason I seem to be avoiding senioritis is that I realize and accept that the work habits I leave high school with will be the same exact work habits I start college with. Success in college is the most important thing I can think of right now, and I’m not interested in starting college as a lazy bum. I am constantly working to develop the best time management skills and work habits I possibly can before high school, because I know I will need them when independence comes. My consciousness of the proximity of fall 2007 has definitely been a factor in combating senioritis.

Things may change after admissions decisions come in, though. I talked to my friend who graduated last year and is now at UC Berkeley, and he said that after you’ve been accepted, you get the feeling that school is suddenly irrelevant and you don’t have to go anymore. People just stop showing up to class, apparently. I certainly hope that I don’t have that impulse, but we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get there. In the mean time I’ll be resisting the great temptation toward senioritis and hoping that my case of junioritis doesn’t appear too extreme to the college admissions officers.

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