Senioritis: Spot the symptoms and get ready for college

Senioritis: Spot the symptoms and get ready for college

    When the clock is winding down toward the end of the year and graduation is within sight, senioritis begins to take hold of high school and college students about to graduate. Even if you find yourself at one of the best colleges in the country, you might check out or lose momentum as you discover that the end of senior year isn’t so far away, after all.

    While it may seem innocent since the finish line is within reach, senioritis is dangerous and can slow your progress, even disrupting your post-graduation plans. Read on for an overview of senioritis and its symptoms, how to avoid it in the first place, and tips for dealing with senioritis if you already have it.

    What is senioritis, and how do I spot the symptoms?

    what is senioritis

    Senioritis is a state of decreased motivation that affects students near the end of their schooling. Though it isn’t a recognized medical condition, senioritis is a real problem that impacts many high school and college students. It can even prevent you from getting the most out of college by decreasing your drive to succeed.

    when does senioritis strike

    The most common symptoms of senioritis are:

    • Procrastination or a lack of motivation
    • Incomplete or low-quality work
    • Lower grades than normal
    • Feelings of burnout or exhaustion

    Not all episodes of senioritis look the same, but regardless of your symptoms, senioritis is a serious issue that you need to address before it’s too late. If your grades drop significantly, it’s possible that your post-graduation plans could change. Colleges can rescind acceptance letters and companies can retract offers if your performance during senior year takes a nosedive.

    Avoiding senioritis: 3 ways to stay on track

    how to prevent senioritis

    The best way to overcome senioritis is to avoid it in the first place. Now you know the symptoms to look for, here are 3 simple tips designed to keep you focused on the prize.

    1. Find a personal connection to your studies

    Often, procrastination is a major part of having senioritis. According to the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton University, 1 key to understanding and overcoming procrastination is finding reasons to stay motivated that are tied to “positive, productive, satisfying feelings and actions.” This means that your outlook influences your learning.

    Try these tips to help you lock in and enjoy your studies during senior year.

    • If you have the chance to plan your courses for your final semester, try to plan elective courses that excite and challenge you and align with your future goals.
    • If you can’t plan your schedule or don’t have elective options available, plan your final projects around topics that interest you and help you gain research experience.

    2. Get involved in extracurricular activities

    Extracurriculars can benefit student motivation and performance — and if you’re applying for college, universities like to see extracurriculars on your application.

    According to a recent study, school-led extracurriculars are more likely to boost performance than outside activities, and students who participate in extracurriculars are more likely to have a higher GPA.

    For juniors and seniors, the following ideas can offer inspiration for ways to get involved in school outside of your classes.

    • Apply for a leadership position in a club that you enjoy.
    • Start a new club that caters to a specific interest of yours.
    • Participate in academic competitions and challenges.
    • Launch a local chapter of a national association, such as Model UN.

    3. Focus on the immediate future

    Your senior year isn’t the end — in fact, it’s just the beginning of a new chapter. What comes next has the potential to motivate you around the senioritis crisis and avoid it altogether.

    To keep yourself motivated, set your sights on your next steps and how you can best prepare yourself to take on those challenges.

    • If you’re starting a job or going to trade school, connect your studies to your chosen profession and how they can benefit your growth there.
    • If you plan on attending college or getting your master’s degree, think of your senior year as a stepping stone to this next level of education.

    How to overcome senioritis and look to the future

    If you have senioritis already or you feel it creeping up, all is not lost. There are plenty of ways to reprioritize and set yourself up for a strong finish.

    Keep yourself organized


    Personal organization is 1 of the hallmarks of success as a student. With so many places to be and so many classes to keep track of, it can be all too easy for assignments to slip through the cracks or to fall behind on due dates. When that happens, procrastination can rear its ugly head and senioritis can settle in.

    • Tip: Try using a detailed written planner, a time management app on your phone, or something else that helps you keep track of tasks. Use those tools to break your responsibilities into smaller, more manageable steps that are easier to tackle.

    Set goals for what you want

    set goals

    Reminding yourself of what you’re working toward is a step to avoid senioritis, but it can also help tremendously if you already feel senioritis setting in. Goals can be large or small, short-term or long-term, simple or challenging. The important thing is to actually set the goal and monitor your progress as you work toward it.

    • Tip: Remind yourself of your goals as often as possible. It might be a written note at your desk that pushes you to keep going, or a picture of the college campus you want to attend next year. Whatever it is, use reminders to help you hone in on your goals and check them off when you’ve met them.

    Change up your surroundings

    change your surroundings

    Part of the feeling of burnout that comes with senioritis can include being stuck in a rut. When you stick to a long-term goal like earning a diploma or a degree, you might need to inject a little variety into your environment to make things interesting for yourself and keep you going.

    • Tip: Move yourself to another location when you begin to feel distracted. If you did your homework at home on a Monday, try going out to a library or a coffee shop on Tuesday to work on what’s next. Changing your location can help you focus on the task at hand instead of the scenery around you.

    Take it easy on yourself


    Senior year can be hard work, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. It’s a good idea to treat yourself with an occasional reward or a break while you’re working toward the goals you set. It’s also important to remember that taking a break is not a bad thing — your body and mind both require rest when you’re working hard on your studies.

    • Tip: Time yourself and take breaks at regular intervals to train your brain that it’s time to relax. If you feel overwhelmed and it isn’t time for a break, step away and take a walk to get some fresh air. After you reach a stopping point or cross something off your list, consider rewarding yourself with a treat, like a dessert or an episode of your favorite show.

    Senioritis is not a rare occurrence — in fact, the most recent study on the affliction found that nearly 4 in 5 students experience senioritis. It’s perfectly normal to catch yourself checking out during your senior year, but how you handle senioritis could have implications for your post-grad life. If you find yourself struggling to overcome senioritis, talk to your counselor about your options for getting support.

    The tips above provide a great checklist for spotting senioritis symptoms and getting things back on track — if you’d prefer to see these in an infographic, you can view and download that via the button below:

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