What Every Parent Needs to Know About Senioritis

The Warning Signs and Consequences of Slacking Off

Senioritis has serious consequences
Deborah Cheramie / E+ / Getty Images

The second half of a student’s senior year of high school tends to trigger what’s been commonly referred to as “senioritis.” By this point, many teens have already been accepted to college and they’re looking forward to a relaxing last few months of high school.

Although on the surface, it may seem like taking a well-deserved break makes sense, senioritis can have serious consequences for kids. It’s important to educate yourself about the warning signs and the potential consequences of seniors slacking off.

Warning Signs of Senioritis

While some teens decline into a gradual slump, others seem to flip a switch as soon as they’ve received a college acceptance letter. Here are the common warning signs of senioritis:

  • Difficulty getting out of bed for school. Students who aren’t looking forward to school may be inclined to stay in bed as long as possible. They may also stay up later than usual and insist there is no harm in arriving at school a few hours late.
  • Disinterest in classes. When seniors officially “check out,” they lose interest in learning. They may be distracted during class and utterly disinterested in their education.
  • Refusal to do homework. Students who think their grades no longer matter lose motivation to complete their homework. Even good students may be willing to accept a zero for a missed an assignment when senioritis strikes.
  • Increased absences. While some students skip a few classes here and there, others begin skipping school altogether. It often starts with excuses like, “Well, we have an assembly that day so I won’t miss anything if I don’t go.” Eventually they look for more excuses like, “Well it’s Friday and I want a long weekend,” or “We don’t do anything the first day back after vacation anyway.”
  • Behavior problems. An attitude of entitlement can lead to disrespectful behavior. A student may begin talking back to teachers or showing off in front of friends. A student with senioritis isn’t afraid of a school suspension.
  • Declining grades. The lack of academic effort takes a swift toll on a student’s GPA. Just a few zeros in the gradebook is all it takes for a senior’s grades to plummet.
  • Decreased involvement in extracurricular activities. For many students, the disinterest in school extends beyond academics. Many of them drop out of sports or stop attending clubs altogether.

Consequences of Senioritis

For many students, senioritis feels like a rite of passage. They’ve worked hard since kindergarten and feel entitled to slack off and sometimes, parents don’t look at senioritis as a big deal. Yet, slacking off during the last few months of school can have serious consequences. Here are a few of the potential consequences students with senioritis may experience:

  • Colleges may rescind acceptance. Many high school students believe the myth that once accepted to college, they don’t have to worry about their grades. But each year, colleges rescind acceptance offers after looking at students’ final grades.
  • Colleges may request an explanation. As college admissions officials review final transcripts, they may inquire about why a student’s grades declined and absences increased. A high school senior may have some explaining to do. Saying, “I didn’t feel like doing the work,” may not bode well.
  • Financial aid and scholarships may be affected. A college may choose to reduce an applicant’s financial aid based on the student’s performance during the last semester. Private scholarships may also be reduced or rescinded if a teen fails to show effort throughout the entire year.
  • Failed classes. Apathy and truancy usually lead to failing grades. Students who fail necessary classes may not be able to graduate at the end of the year.
  • Risky behavior. “Senior skip day” and skipped classes often gives teens an opportunity to hang out unsupervised. Unfortunately, this lack of supervision and abundance of time can lead to increased risky behavior. Sexual activity, unsafe driving, binge drinking, and dangerous pranks are just a few of the activities that are associated with truancy.
  • Apathy has a snowball effect. The less active students are in their education, the less motivated they’ll be to do their work. A senior who begins to slack off may grow increasingly apathetic about attending class and doing work as the semester unfolds.

Addressing Senioritis

Take steps to prevent senioritis from sinking in. A teen who is consistently challenged throughout his senior year is less likely to give up. Hold frequent conversations about the dangers of senioritis and problem-solve strategies that will help your teen stay focused on high school, even when his peers may be losing interest. 

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