Senioritis Spurs Renewed Focus

Senioritis Spurs Renewed Focus

There comes a time in the life of every senior when she begins to ask herself questions. Big, important, meaningful questions like: How long can I put off this paper? How many math problems can I do in the conference period before class? Do I really need to study for this test? Why do I still have to come to school?

Illustration by Lizzie

Yes, it’s second semester, and senioritis is truly upon us. And to be honest, I’m a little bit surprised. I haven’t always been a paragon of academic virtue—I’ve written a night-before paper or two, I won’t lie—but I never really expected to catch senioritis. Not because I love doing homework more than watching Downton Abbey, but because I’ve never been motivated by grades.

You see, I’d always thought that senioritis began the glorious moment that college applications were submitted, transcripts and test scores were sent off and students no longer had to worry so much about their GPAs. It only seemed logical: once the looming threat of college admission was out of the way, many people lost all motivation to get good grades, pay attention in class or show up to school.

But since I’d always been more interested in learning for learning’s sake, I reasoned, I surely wasn’t going to have that problem. Because yes, I’m really weird, but I really do enjoy going to class and listening to my teachers and writing papers. So in the innocent days of junior year, as I watched the few seniors in my classes fall asleep at their desks and turn in essays with margins the size of the Sahara, I figured I would be immune to the senior slump.

That, of course, was before I actually became a second-semester senior. Now, I know this is going to sound like rationalizing, but I truly believe that when I pledged to stay engaged until the week before my graduation, I didn’t fully understand the causes of senioritis.

Yes, it is partially about the fact that grades matter a bit less, but it’s also about something else, something that no junior can ever really grasp: the impending promise of college. All of us seniors are suddenly faced with the prospect of leaving home, leaving Hockaday, maybe even leaving Texas and going out to discover a whole new world. It’s a little bit mind-boggling, a little bit terrifying and—no offense, Hockaday—really, really exciting.

So when many seniors are facing some pretty life-altering decisions, from what college to attend to which major to pursue, I think we can excuse a little bit of, shall we say, absent-mindedness when it comes to the daily demands of high school. Besides, it may sound crazy, but I think there are actually some perks to the dreaded senioritis (teachers, I know you’re rolling your eyes sky-high right now, but bear with me for a moment).

First of all, senioritis provides something that Hockaday students frequently lack: perspective. If you don’t believe me, just drop in on an advisory or two when quarter grades get handed back. You’d think the black plague had just arrived in town; if it weren’t for the plaid skirts and laptops, the lamentations and doom-stricken faces would make any medieval peasant feel right at home. I’m certainly not saying that we shouldn’t care about our grades, but it’s also a pleasant revelation for many seniors that the world will not, in fact, go plummeting towards the sun if they get a B.

More important than that, however, is the fact that senioritis helps you figure out your priorities. When you don’t feel the need to do work all the time, you may remember that you have things like family and friends—with whom, it’s important to remember, you don’t have all the time in the world left to spend.

When you don’t feel consumed by things that you have to do, you can remember what you actually like to do. for the first time in years, I feel like I have time to read, watch movies, talk to friends, make art and play music on—gasp—weeknights.

And when it comes to school—yes, that thing that we still have to actually go to, sigh—senioritis has helped me refocus on what I really love. Literally, I can only focus on the things I love; if it’s not a class that truly captivates me, I have serious trouble staying awake. (To my teachers: if you’ve noticed me falling asleep in your class, this is really awkward.)

If I still feel motivated to go to a class, participate in discussions, write really good papers and study for tests, it means that I truly enjoy the subject. If I decide to bake brownies and clean my room instead of doing my homework for a certain class, well…let’s just say that I probably shouldn’t plan to spend my life studying that subject. Thank you, senioritis, for helping to relieve some of my college major-choosing angst.

Now, none of this is to say that I’m planning to stop showing up to school or start failing all the classes that bore me. Senioritis might be a nice excuse to slack sometimes, but it can also be a danger to college admission and downright insult -ing to teachers.

But I think senioritis has gotten too much of a bad rap. After all, we seniors don’t have very much high school left; I don’t see anything wrong with taking a little time to appreciate the parts of it that we truly love.