I do not want to write this article. I am editor-in-chief of my school’s magazine, am incredibly passionate about both writing and journalism, and have been in journalism class for four years, but I am still searching for the motivation to type words onto a piece of paper. Tomorrow’s deadline is marked on my calendar, and the time on my phone is creeping past midnight. I’m supposed to write an article for my school’s magazine about “senioritis,” but it’s impossible to write about senioritis when I have been so plagued by it myself.
The generation above us seems to think that senioritis is the cause of an inherently lazy youth, and if maybe we did not utilize technology as a procrastination tool, we would learn a better sense of responsibility. Although I can not deny that binge watching shows on Netflix has not taken me away from study time, to no means do I believe that time wasted on technology is the problem, if anything, it is more of an effect than the cause.
The feeling of senioritis that the majority of 12th grade is experiencing stems from our modern-day education system. The most common phrase I both hear and think is “I’m not going to study because senior year does not count.” Yes, senior year grades might not necessarily factor into a university acceptance, but does that discredit learning and make knowledge not beneficial? We have been raised by both a community and society that are so college-oriented that myself, as well as others, forget what it means to learn for understanding purposes. We are more focused on getting the grade to look attractive to whatever our “dream school” may be than getting the grade because of the desire to both obtain and retain actual knowledge. Because of our college-driven education system, people are not learning to learn; they are learning for a good transcript. It is evident that people do not value their education as much as an acceptance letter because once they are accepted into a school, everyone, including myself, seems to stop caring about learning. Admittedly, I find myself lacking the curiosity I once had and prided myself upon.
Are students responsible for their apathetic behavior? Yes. But are students entirely at fault?
Both sophomore and junior years slowly burn us out. The all nighters, the stress, and the motivation to get into a certain university lead to anxiety attacks. There were times during my junior year when the pressure of college applications, which were a year away, would cause me to have emotional and mental breakdowns. For instance, after my Trigonometry final last year, I left the classroom crying because I was going to get a B in the class. The pressure to succeed made me forget that getting a B was succeeding. Sometimes it is hard to remember that one grade will not make or break your life. I got Bs during my high school career, and I still got accepted into colleges. This stress and disillusionment can kill our inquisitiveness. If it is not a test question, why should I bother myself with knowing the information?
Honestly, my last bit of drive that remained from my previous high school years was expended with the college application process. Despite the many stressful days I experienced in my infamous junior year, senior year has been the most anxiety inducing. As a senior, my mind-frying preceding years were solely for these college applications – the pinnacle of stress. The pressure I felt in fitting my life into a 650 word essay was similar to the turmoil I felt when my I fit my academic ability into a single letter grade. These limitations in the ability to represent myself makes me feel like a number; I am applicant 20948373, and the thought alone can de-motivate you. High school is a checklist of steps needed to get into college, so once seniors submit their college applications and their checklist of obstacles are completed, it is almost hard not to take a break. In our minds, we are done because we are raised to think that getting into college is the end goal of high school. Yes, higher education is important, but the apathy of senioritis is caused because higher education has become the foundation for our learning instead of creativity or the pursuit of knowledge.
So things got real, fast.
"What can I do?" I asked her, my voice probably cracking.
"Nothing. It’s too late.”
“Sorry. You haven’t been here.”
I left class that day a little broken. And then I got to work.
First, I begged Ms. Turino to let me make up my assignments, to let me prove to her I wasn’t a slacker. Eventually, she agreed to let me make up some of the work. [In retrospect, this was incredibly kind of her and though I thanked her then, I'd like to thank her here, again.] I completed extra credit assignments, studied harder than ever before and got A’s on the rest of my tests.
I escaped Pre-Cal my senior year with a C. I still feared, up until the last moment, that I’d get the “fear of God” letter for Northwestern. Fortunately, I didn’t. But looking back at how much I gained there, it would have been an absolutely devastating letter.
What am I saying to you? Avoid the devastating letter.
If you're reading this in the spring of your senior year and you're in danger of failing (or getting anything other than As and Bs), here are a few tips:
How to Avoid Getting the “Fear of God” Letter Your Senior Year
Check in with your teachers or guidance counselor ASAP to find out what your current grades are.
If you don’t like what you hear, ask your teacher(s) what you can do to bring your grade(s) up.
Create a to-do list that actually works.
Try a one-week social media fast.
Close this webpage and get to work.
How Parents and Teachers Can Help Motivate a Student with Senioritis
Copy and paste the “fear of God” letter above into a blank MSWord doc.
Google image search the college where your student has been accepted and put a logo from the college into the header of the doc.
Change the name “Joe” to your son/daughter/student’s name.
Print it out and tape it on a door, laptop, or somewhere they’re bound to see it.
Hide and wait.
Need a little extra help? Here’s a handy guide to overcoming procrastination.
Confused about the importance of college interviews? Click here for more information.