Seniors see a decline in motivation after turning in applications, accepted by colleges

Easterly Yeaman

After committing to Southern Methodist University for soccer in the seventh grade, senior Truth Byars immediately feels a weight lifted off of her shoulders. In her remaining years of middle and high school, she rarely feels the pressure that most other students who haven’t gotten into college feel, which sometimes affects her motivation to do work.

While it came early for Byars, it’s common for students to experience this feeling, often called senioritis, during their last year of high school. Students usually see a decline in their motivation to do homework and other assignments sometimes leading to a drop in grades.

“With this, I felt that even if I did not do my best in school, I still did not have to worry as much compared to people who were still waiting to get into college,” Byars said. “I knew I could always rely on my athletic abilities.”

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, Senioritis is defined as “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences and lower grades.” Lindy Grosvenor teaches AP comparative government, AP U.S. government, AP macroeconomics and a regular U.S. government class and has a majority of seniors in these classes, so she’s familiar with senioritis.

“I would say that [seniors] develop a little bit of apathy towards getting their work done,” Grosvenor said. “Definitely not apathy towards their grades, but wanting to continue to do work. I think [these feelings] come in waves.”

Teachers are affected by senioritis mainly by this drop in motivation to do work outside of school. Seniors still stay focused and engaged during class.

“[Seniors] don’t lose the ability to stay engaged in class,” Grosvenor said. “I do think that our kids are great at staying engaged; they still want to discuss things, so it’s just more of the outside of class work.”

Although students may not turn in as many assignments, teachers are generally understanding of senioritis, and encourage students to persevere.

“Teachers are understanding of this feeling, and they are aware of it,” Senior Katherine Hess, who has submitted all her applications but has not received any decisions yet, said. “They try to keep encouraging you to keep going.”

Some of the effects of senioritis can include lower AP exam grades. It’s common for seniors to blow off AP exams which can be disappointing for teachers who know they could have done better.

“I have had students who I know did very well in the class and didn’t put forth any effort in the AP exam,” Grosvenor said. “Some [seniors] will have a very low score, which is not reflective of their knowledge at all.”

Even if I did not do my best in school, I still did not have to worry as much compared to people who were still waiting to get into college.

Truth Byars

In addition, according to the University of The People, some colleges have a policy that students admitted to the college must maintain their GPA to a certain extent. If students let their grades slip too much, they could end up not being able to attend even if previously accepted. However, this is the worst case scenario.

“Personally, I am not worried about my senioritis,” Byars said. “Although I might not have any motivation to do my work, it always gets done at some point.”

Because some seniors have their required courses out of the way, this opens up their schedule for more elective courses and easier classes resulting in a lighter workload.

“Comparing my senior year classes and my junior year classes, my classes this year are slightly better because I have all the credits I need and can take more elective courses,” Byars said. “So with that said, I do have a little more freedom this year and less work.”

Hess also has a lighter schedule this year, but this only came after turning in all of her applications.

“At the beginning of senior year [the workload] is not light because you have so many college apps, essays and you may or may not be done with your ACT or SAT,” Hess said. “But once that’s over it’s definitely a lighter schedule, especially compared to junior year.”

Senior Jake Kelton is already accepted into Belmont University and has recently experienced senioritis. However, it’s effect hasn’t had many consequences because of his lighter schedule this year as well.

“You work hard and get into college and kinda want to just chill,” Kelton said. “But for the most part, the workload is a lot lighter so I mean, it’s not that hard to keep up with everything.”

Having a lighter schedule lends itself to boredom for some, but for many, it allows them to focus on extracurriculars. For Kelton, he gets more time to work on his music.

“I don’t really have homework this year, ever, so outside of school, [having a lighter schedule] is nice for me because I’ve got more time to work on my music,” Kelton said. “But for kids that don’t do sports or anything like that, I can understand if they’re just looking for stuff to do.”

Although senioritis is known to hit at the end of the year, some seniors have felt it early this year, whether it’s left over exhaustion from the year before, the stress from completing college applications or an increase in students applying early decision.

“The majority of the work you’re doing senior year is college applications, and it takes so much time and effort,” Hess said. “I feel like I use the majority of my effort for college apps. Once they were done I felt relieved but also like I needed a break.”

Grosvenor has noticed over the years that the seniors’ dips in motivation come in waves. They normally arise after college decisions come out or after breaks throughout the school year.

“Certainly right after everyone had submitted most of their college applications, there was a wave. They think, ‘I’ve applied to college, I don’t need to worry about it anymore,’” Grosvenor said. “Then they kind of regroup, and I’m sure there’ll be another wave probably after Thanksgiving and definitely after spring break.”

By the end of the year, most seniors will have experienced or will be experiencing senioritis especially since most will be into college. Kelton predicts it will be worse because everyone collectively feels a decline in motivation.

“These feelings definitely hit harder later on,” Kelton said. “Once everybody has gotten into college, and everybody has the same feeling it’s just gonna get worse. But I also think that teachers will assign less work.”

Senioritis is a completely normal and common feeling for seniors to experience. The burnout from years of school hits the hardest especially in their last year as they’ve accomplished their end goal of submitting college applications and getting accepted into college.

“We have all worked so hard the past four years to do our best in school,” Byars said. “When we get into college, we all feel like all our hard work is done.”

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