The Not-So-Mysterious Case of Senioritis

In her first installment for The Shield, senior Anna Craig explores a sudden (or not-so-sudden) illness that may hit her peers


Anna Craig, Senior Editor

If you’re a student at Floral Park Memorial High School, then it’s likely that you can’t even count on both hands just how many times you’ve heard the word “senioritis” tossed around. Regardless of grade, you’ve probably overheard the term dropped in conversation by both staff and students alike. 

If you heard it from a teacher, the context was probably something along the lines of, “There is no such thing as senioritis in my class,” or “Call senioritis what it is, laziness.” If you heard it from a student, the context was probably more sarcastic in tone, poking fun at people who use the silly word, or just cracking jokes about why they didn’t do last night’s assignment. Personally, I’ve been hearing about it since the 7th grade, which, coincidentally, is when most seniors said they started feeling it.

Whether you believe “senioritis” is just a fake excuse for giving up on academic school responsibilities, or an involuntary shift in a student’s perspective of school, it’s difficult to argue that the level of motivation exhibited by high school seniors isn’t at least slightly less than that of their junior, sophomore, and freshman counterparts. From what I’ve gathered after discussing this with fellow seniors, it’s typically caused by a combination of two factors: a feeling of being burnt out from the past five years and an increasing itch to finally be independent. 

Many students, particularly the overachieving ones, feel as if they’ve spent a large chunk of their teenage years pouring all of their energy into school, and are just desperate to relax from the stress of junior year. One senior, who asked to remain anonymous, told me that he used to be involved in multiple sports, clubs, and advanced classes while also holding down two jobs. “But you can really only juggle it all for so long,” he said. 

The concept of simply running out of motivation for it all was a commonly shared sentiment among those I spoke with. Not only do students begin to feel short on energy, but they’re short on time as well. There are only so many hours in the day, so prioritizing responsibilities becomes an absolute necessity. After speaking to a small group of seniors who all work as waiters or hosts in local restaurants, it became clear to me that, for many, jobs rank higher than studies do on that list of priorities. 

“I just really need to save up for college” was the most common phrase when asking them to justify why some seniors do not have time for homework. I can certainly relate to that sentiment.

The other major cause of “senioritis” is even more common than the shared lack of motivation. It is the building desire to be free of the monotonous high school routine and be able to make real choices about the future. 

Speaking to yet another anonymous senior about the subject, she said, “You call it senioritis, I call it just wanting to move on with my life already.”

The real quote might have had a few more expletives than that, but you get the picture. It seems that this frustration is often what sparks seniors to stop caring about tests and homework, opting instead to focus on the distant dream of leaving for college, no matter how many months away that is.

As silly as a word like “senioritis” sounds, even the most mature students relate to it far more than you might expect, and many actually have shockingly logical arguments to explain why and how they feel about it. If you’re a teacher, you might’ve experienced it yourself. If you’re an underclassmen, you probably will soon enough. And if you’re a senior this year like me? Well, I know you have. (Yes, even though it’s only September.)

All in all, there were some very mixed opinions on whether “senioritis” is a result of overstressed students being too preoccupied with college applications, work, and other obligations to focus on their classes, or if it is simply an excuse for less-driven students to put even less effort into school. No matter what side of the argument you fall on, it’s important to have empathy, to a degree, with those around you. You might find that the whole concept is not so mysterious after all.

(Check back with The Shield as we will continue the discussion of the academic performance of seniors at Floral Park Memorial. Future articles will focus on the role of teachers and administrators in making senior year a productive, educational and less stressful one for all.)