Symptoms of Senioritis
Regardless of how old your kids are, it’s important to get them “vaccinated” against senioritis. If you have a senior, it’s vital that you be able to identify the symptoms and treat the “disease”. Senioritis is an “illness” that strikes millions of America’s 12th graders every spring. Symptoms include, missing assignments, slipping grades, tardiness to classes, absenteeism, laziness, clouded judgement, and bravado.
How Senioritis is Contracted
The “disease” is contagious and may be contracted through any combination of following situations:
1. A student is accepted into the college of his or her choice. “I’ve already been accepted to a college so what’s the point? High school is a waste of my time now.”
2. A student hits a point in social emotional maturity where high school rules seem more intrusive and silly than supportive. “What do you mean, the school sent my grades home to my parents. I’m 18 years old, my doctor can’t even share information with my parents anymore. Do you have to send this grade report home? This is silly.”
3. A student decides that it’s time to celebrate the near completion of high school and leave a legacy. “Let’s have our own senior skip day. The school doesn’t know how to plan a party.” OR “Let’s celebrate by pulling the wildest senior prank this school has ever seen!”
4. A student decides that he / she has worked hard for the past 7 semesters of high school and they deserve a break for this 8th and final semester. “I’ve worked my tail off for three and a half years. I’m gonna coast a little for the next couple months.”
I’m amazed at how productive and compliant our high-schoolers are these days. There are a million things in the palm of their hands begging for their attention (from Facebook, to Twitter, to StumbleUpon to Tumblr and thousands of other media). There are a hundred other temptations begging them to violate parental rules, school rules, and public law. Remember how it was? Every minute of your day was accounted for. Bells ringing to time your walk between classes, bells ringing to time your lunch, 7 or eight classes per day with teachers assigning classwork, homework, tests, quizzes, and final exams. That’s a lot for a youth to keep up with! So it’s no surprise that a 17 or 18-year-old would decide to coast for that last semester. However, lots of pitfalls await any senior who decides to tune-out (even a little) during that final semester of high school.
What’s a Parent To Do?
Remind your high-schooler of these facts:
1. Integrity and role-modeling. Many times you can appeal to a 17 or 18-year-old by just asking them to do something because it’s the right thing to do. Remind them that putting their best effort forward in the final weeks of high school even if they see the work as less significant is a demonstration of their integrity and honorable character. It is good for their school community and our society – period. As you know, there doesn’t always have to be something in it for them.
2. Colleges ask the school (usually the counselor), for a senior’s final end of year grade report. They ask for a reason! Colleges reserve the right to rescind a student’s admission based on information they receive from high schools. Although it’s rare, colleges will rescind if they find a student’s decline in grades or behavior egregious enough.
3. Remind them that they are still in high school, getting close to graduation is not good enough. They still have to graduate. They still have to meet the school’s attendance and course-requirements.
4. Remind them that no matter how late in the school year, the school is still able to give consequences for a students actions (good and bad).
5. Remind them that colleges may reduce scholarship amounts due to slipping grades in the final semester.
6. Remind them that colleges may put freshmen on academic probation status if grades have significantly slipped since the student was accepted.
Case Studies of Senioritis
Every year we hear or read about high school seniors whose scholarships were reduced, whose prospective college put them on probationary admission; or we hear about kids who are suspended, expelled, or even arrested just days before graduation.
Several years ago I was on staff in a school district where a group of seniors were arrested and slapped with felony charges by the district attorney because of a silly senior prank. They wanted to celebrate and leave a legacy. They had never been in trouble in school or with the law and they thought this would be a funny and harmless prank. Eventually the charges were dropped; but of course it was a stressful time for them and their families.
I’ve had many wrap-around meetings with mom, dad, teacher, student, and other invested adults, to help support a senior in the final months, weeks, and days of the school year because senioritis got the best of them. Unfortunately, despite scores of warnings, do-overs, meetings, and promptings, some of my students have found themselves cramming to finish work hours before the graduation ceremony (yes, I said hours before the ceremony).
After putting one of my children through high school and into college, and helping to support thousands of others; I remind my readers of this fact: whether it’s a mild or severe case of senioritis, rid your kid of the “disease” by following the above guidelines and contacting your child’s teachers and school counselor.