The Curious Case of Senioritis
May 31, 2016
Senioritis – a supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.
A word so popular and mainstream, even auto-correct knows how to spell it. This affliction has been around for decades but only recently have we begun to name it. Seniors everywhere feel the effects suddenly and rapidly, but as Stella DiGiovanni, junior, says, “I’ve had it since 7th grade”. The illness targets every and any student. The effects can last for a random period of time. It’s also known as “Student Syndrome” when referenced out of school.
Yes, the humorous term we use instead of “laziness” is a real thing. The sudden feeling of dull, boring, “let me be done already”-ness has been observed since 1974, when Writer James Coleman, Chairman of the President’s Panel of Youth at the time, urged schools to do something about it. This actually led to the creation of the “Senior Semester”, where seniors can spend their year pursuing their out-of-school goals, such as finding a job, picking a college, or service projects. The goal was to give seniors something to do, once graduation was pretty much in the bag.
Think about it — after high school, you don’t have to ask a teacher to go to the bathroom, have a hall pass, ride a school bus, or anything else! But until the bell rings on the very last day of school, you still have to act just like freshmen, middle schoolers, and elementary students. But unlike the others, you have to worry about what comes next. For everyone but seniors, the answer is “school”. So seniors start behaving laxly at school, which isn’t saying they’re lazy — just worried about more pressing matters. The problem is that seniors might ignore schoolwork, which some colleges will actually reject them for. If you promise strong work ethic and start to get bored at school and stop working hard, a college will see you as unprofessional, discourteous, and above all, a liar. At the very least, you’re more of a liability than an asset. And if just IF, you manage to get into one, your newly found relaxed attitude will not fit in at college at all. So obviously, seniorities are real and has serious long-term effects.
Senioritis is loosely described as another form of procrastination. What’s important about this is that it relates similarly to other “laws of work” — Parkinson’s, Hofstadter’s, and the Pygmalion effect. Parkinson’s law states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion” — or loosely, work will take up as much time as possible to finish. Senioritis limits the amount of time allotted for schoolwork, because of a focus on other things first. Similarly related is Hofstadter’s law, which says “work will always take longer than you expect — even if you account for Hofstadter’s law”. This one is easy, it just means that not only will work take up all your time to give it, but it will always need longer to complete — even if you expect it to take longer than you need, and you give it more time, it will still need more, and you can try to give it more time than you think you need, but it will still take longer, so you keep giving more time to it, until …
Well, you get the point. Work takes forever, plus some.
Finally, the Pygmalion effect is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, where you do better work if it’s expected of you, and worse work if the opposite is expected (which is actually called the golem effect). The Pygmalion effect is why some people work better under a deadline, or why the teacher’s pet always seems to do better in class. When you understand what’s expected of you, people naturally want to rise to the occasion — anything less, and you’re disappointing someone, and also yourself. Contrarily, the golem effect is why when a teacher gives the whole class an easy assignment and expects very little effort from all of you, no one puts in 110 percent. Senioritis is kind of like a constant golem effect, due to the senior not expecting to work hard, and therefore, does not work hard. But when push comes to shove, the Pygmalion effects takes over and the sudden looming deadline kicks you into high gear. Or, you’re just really lazy/don’t care about disappointing anyone, and you keep slacking off. As long as you have a reason, you push through everything.
Maybe now you’re thinking, “well, how can I not get Senioritis, or if I do, is there a cure? I don’t want to fail high school and do all of this over again”. Well … the only real solution that everyone agrees on is that you have to not get bored of school. Which, let’s be honest, you’re usually bored by middle school. Calista Duthie, sophomore, says, “I never got bored of school since I always have friends to hang out with”. Sadly, this might actually lead to Senioritis. Your friends aren’t a part of the school, they’re your friends! If you get bored of school, and a friend says you should ditch and do something else, you’re on the verge of Senioritis.
So, if you want to avoid Senioritis and all the worry that comes with it, remember — it’s a form of procrastination. Just don’t get distracted or bored with school, and you’ll be fine. There’s nothing about a school that everyone like, so go out and find something in your high school that really speaks to you, and don’t forget to do your homework. Even if it is the last thing on the planet you want to do.