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Senioritis: The self-fulfilling prophecy

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Inevitably, as seniors reluctantly return to campus after a much-needed winter break, two topics of discussion arise in classes: the first, friendly “welcome back” greetings from teachers, and the second, cautionary lectures on senioritis. Teachers understand that, come second semester, many seniors begin to put less effort into their studies — the culmination of college application overload and years spent believing that the second semester of senior year is entirely irrelevant. However, senioritis may be more of a self-fulfilling prophecy propagated by teachers and students alike rather than an incurable and inescapable ailment.

By this point, nearly every senior understands that slacking off second semester is simply a bad idea because seniors are aware of the possibility of having to take finals or being rescinded from a college (not to mention that neglecting schoolwork altogether leaves seniors ill-prepared for the demanding next four years). What students and teachers often neglect to consider, however, is that we may be reinforcing second-semester laziness: students expect it from themselves, and teachers, from past experience, expect it from their students.

When those seniors who resolved to continue working hard second semester walk into class on the first day after winter break and hear, “You’re going to completely give up this semester” and “You will be so lazy from now until May,” these students might come to view senioritis as something that is expected of them, even if these phrases are well-intentioned and coupled with cautionary advice to suggest that slacking off, while common, isn’t the right thing to do. Seniors may think that if their peers (and every previous senior class) have succumbed to senioritis, adopting an “I-don’t-care-enough” attitude is acceptable.

While we can’t expect senioritis to vanish or place any blame on teachers for warning students about a very real phenomenon, we can change the way we approach second semester. In lieu of solely relying on scare tactics to warn students about the second-semester slump, teachers can put the semester into context and focus on being positive but realistic. Stephanie Lint-Perez, a Michigan Spanish teacher quoted in an education blog, tells her seniors that in a real-life situation (for instance, in the workplace), they would not be able to quit out of sheer laziness.

Additionally, seniors themselves must be aware that senioritis may just be a culture we propagate. Seniors who take pride in their work ethic should not give up “because senioritis is inevitable anyway.” Those who don’t feel totally apathetic towards school should not feel pressured to pretend they’ve given up just to feel socially acceptable. Senioritis may be an “illness,” but it’s one we are reinforcing, not falling victim to.


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