It’s the Easter Weekend! Midterms are over, university acceptances are starting to roll in, and everyone is starting to enjoy the nice warm weather. But beware, because the warm weather and stress-free environment is the perfect breeding ground for one of the most potent high-schooler diseases of all time : senioritis.

We can go with the Google definition of senioritis being the “affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.” So what does that look like?

The most obvious statistical measure of senioritis would be the sharp decline in test marks. Harder to measure but also very obvious is the complete lack of motivation by students in the classroom. You can measure this intangible statistic by counting how many people are playing mobile games, sleeping, or skipping class at any given point in time.

I am the first to say that I have been severely affected by senioritis. Having accepted my offer to university in mid-March, this tryhard 90+ average student has received a 60% on a math test, 77% on Econ, and is confronting the looming AP Math exam by going outside to play basketball.

*swish

Having always been a hardworking student, senioritis has brought up a lot of confusion into my life. I have this little angel on my right shoulder telling me:

“It’s school! You should be working hard. You’re a good student! Don’t let your teachers down”.

On the other side I have this tiny devil whispering:

“But your marks don’t matter anymore”

It has been a real moral dilemma, full of internal conflict and many deep life talks with friends, but I actually find senioritis to be a really fascinating topic, because it says a lot about our education system and motivation.

So as the resident expert and being a uniquely qualified individual on this topic, I just wanted to share a few of my own thoughts on senioritis, and some of the steps that I’m taking to make the best of a real lazy situation.

On Our Education System

“AGHHH F*** SCHOOL”

That uncensored and NSFS (not safe for school) scream escaped the mouths of me and my friends as we desperately searched for a basketball court after midterms.

That little outburst says a lot about student attitudes towards school. We think that school is:

  1. Stressful
  2. Frustrating
  3. Occasionally Useless
  4. Tiring

No matter how you frame it, school is a huge mental drain on teens. In a study by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, it turns out that 68% of teens report that academics stress them out. But you don’t really need a survey to tell you that if you pay close attention.

If you had listened to a few student conversations a few days ago, and you wouldn’t have been able to avoid the topic of university acceptances, the pre-test all nighters, and unfair teachers.

If senioritis tells us anything, it’s that students have been mentally exhausted by this constant grind of test, study, test, study, rinse and repeat.

Does anyone remember having fun in school? When you could go to class and play with tiny lego bricks, or sit down in front of a teacher for story time, or go outside for class? I remember learning French through a play about three little pigs and pretending to blow the house down.

good ol’ days

School used to be fun. Learning used to be fun. Why can’t school still be fun and enjoyable? Sure, it’s hard to make subjects like titration, derivatives, and net force as fun as pretending to be a little pig, but at the very least, there has to be a way to make school a lot less stressful and engaging. A good starting point might be teachers coordinating and planning so that one student doesn’’t have 5 assignments and tests due in a single week.

Senioritis is just a natural release of all the pressures that students had to suffer through the last 3 and ¾ of a year. Some of my own friends have gone through all-nighters, stress sores, stress breakdowns, and intense anxiety over the course of high school. Is that healthy? Is that what our education system wants? Don’t all of our teachers and parents realize this? Who wouldn’t want to run in the other direction?

So F*** school.

Finding Motivation

SO. I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MY MARKS?

Midterms are in, acceptances are rolling out. Most students now have the luxury of cruising and turning off the jets a little.

Now a lot of teachers and parents think that this is a bad thing. Your marks are going to drop! You’re not going to know the material!

To them I say. So what? If you do a rational analysis here, most of the stuff I’m learning in school is not going to be particularly life changing or necessary. My marks are locked in and don’t matter. By spending excessive amounts of time on something that I’m a) likely to forget and b) don’t enjoy, c) has no meaning, I just end up feeling frustrated and unhappy.

This realization is obviously the key cause of senioritis. There’s no real external pressure or extrinsic motivation to do well anymore. And there’s really nothing that parents or teachers can do to change it.

Great, so let’s slack in school.

You might need one of these to help find your motivation

But taking a long term view, senioritis and this two month period is actually the perfect time to start setting yourself up for bigger and better things.

I mean doesn’t everyone have something that they wish they had more time to do but “never had the time?” Did you ever want to start writing more? Designing more? Coding more? How about meeting more people or starting something cool?

Well look at this! Now that you don’t have to pay attention to school anymore, you have a lot of time to start doing all the things that you’ve wanted to learn or do.

So going into the next 2 months, that’s the mindset that I’m adopting. I’m going to be working at 10% in school, and 100% in everything else in my life. I’m going be writing more, learning about sales and marketing, becoming more fluent in Spanish, and running around interviewing people for the Project 5K podcast. Of course, I can’t forget to mention that I’m starting to go hang out with friends 10x more than normal.

If you’re a student trying to deal with senioritis, I say just forget about school. Do the work it takes to maintain your mark and acceptance, but start shifting your focus and energy towards the more meaningful and important things in life. That’s probably where you can find that long lost motivation and enjoyment that school sucked out of you.

Personally, I think it’s really important to find that intrinsic (internal) motivation to do something. Eventually, in life, I think that there will always be a time where you don’t have a boss, teacher, or parent telling you what you do. Then it becomes so easy to slack, start a Netflix marathon, and binge on ice cream.

But if you really want to reach for the stars, make an impact, or be “successful”, you need to be able to dredge up some motivation to start taking action even when there is no one telling you to.

So go out there and start dancing / learning a language / drawing / coding / whatever floats your boat. There’s no better opportunity to start than now 🙂

PS. This is really bad advice for finding motivation to do well at school. If in need of academic motivation, having a long, honest conversation with your teacher is probably the better route to go…

I apologize if I just infected you with senioritis. If you enjoyed the post, do you mind pressing that little green heart? It helps spread the message. You can find more of my stuff at blog.project5k.ca