It’s not just a made-up word anymore.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, now includes the term “senioritis” and defines it as “an ebbing of effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences and lower grades.”
Take for example freshman Dena Blumenthal, who was struck so hard by senioritis her last year of high school that she said she felt she had to take a year off after graduation.
“I just wasn’t into it anymore,” she said. “I needed some time off before I could get myself back into the school mindset.”
It seems her break did Blumenthal well: She is now a member of the Honors Program, and said that she considers herself a successful student. However, few seniors are willing to admit to falling into the clutches of senioritis. Senior communications major and homecoming queen Mouna Moussa said that if anything, she is more excited about this semester than she has been about any other. “Knowing this is my last time around makes me want to work hard,” she said.
“It’s actually really motivating to know I don’t have to do this six more times.”
Also keeping Moussa motivated are her post-graduation plans to study fashion.
Professor and Chair of the Psychiatry Department David Baron said that senioritis takes place when students stop investing mental or emotional energy into their program.
“For some students, it may be a function of preparing emotionally to move on,” he said. Perhaps Moussa’s clear vision of her future helps her avoid the temptation to mentally “check out” of her last few classes. Winston Johnson, another member of the class of 2007, said he thinks senioritis is more of a high school phenomenon. Johnson said that as he was wrapping up his high school career he basically knew what was coming next: four years of college.
“College is different because the end is so much more exciting. I’m looking ahead to internships, a career, the real world,” he said. Johnson also said that he is studying a program he is actually interested in, rather than just completing general courses like he did in high school. He said that his high-interest level in his college courses has made a difference in his motivation during his final semesters. Dr. Baron confirmed that senioritis is being studied predominantly in the adolescent
psychiatry field, often regarding high school seniors specifically.
Still deep among the masses of undeterred, motivated seniors you will find the rare senioritis sufferer. Finance and economics double major Patrick Knauss said he feels like he has been at Temple forever.
“I’ve just been doing the same thing over and over for seven semesters,”he said. “I’m sick of classes.”
As the term senioritis continues to become more mainstream vernacular the coordinating “junioritis” is also becoming a prominent colloquial term. While it also seems to refer primarily to the high school scene, the partner term refers to the motivation spike before the crash: the time in a student’s career when he or she takes on a rigorous academic course load and exhibits great ambition.
Any ideas for what sophomoritis and freshmanitis might entail?
Mary C. Schell can be reached at email@example.com.