In fifth grade, I got a new email address that logged me into my computer and Google Docs. The email started promptly with the number 22. When I learned that it stood for “Class of ‘22,” I shrugged, not understanding just how fast life would go by until the day that I graduate. Middle school flew by and I found myself sitting in class on my first day of freshman year, thinking to myself, “Still four years??” I soon learned the term “senioritis” and looked at it as sort of a joke, something that seniors make up as an excuse to be unmotivated or lazy in school. But when I walked into Oyster River on the first day of my senior year, I was hit with a wave of the very real disease of senioritis.
I truly didn’t think I would make it through the first semester of my senior year, but as the first day of quarter three rolled around, I realized just how fast high school had gone by and how close I am to graduating. It’s hard not to space out every day and daydream about summer; I’m having a hard time focusing on writing this article.
So, from one senior to another, here are some of my tips and tricks to getting through senioritis:
#1. Keeping your Eye on the Goal: Graduating!
Senior year goes by too slowly and too fast at the same time. With stress from the “after high school” conversations and decisions, it can feel even longer to that glorious moment of walking across that stage getting your diploma. For seniors who are choosing the college path, it can be really easy to fall into deep grooves of anxiety and stress. The majority of the second and third quarter stress stems from waiting on letters and emails that determine your fate for the next four years. Finding ways to distract yourself from the college stress is key to curing senioritis. Things like working out, going on walks, journaling, and using meditation to stay present are great devices to help you decompress and reset. Morgan Veno, a senior at Oyster River, admitted to me that she hasn’t done a great job managing her stress. Sometimes as seniors, we put too much on our plates because we want to do everything and it can be hard to say no. Veno said, “when I do get too much stuff on my plate, I just take a mental health day off of school and work and focus. Little things [like that] make my life easier.” She also said that physical activity like sports and going to the gym has really helped her manage her stress.
The process of applying to college involves a lot of time waiting for responses. When you receive that first email or letter that says that beautiful word, “Congratulations!” You will look at those words for a solid ten minutes, sigh, and say Great job! You did it! And for one fantastic moment, the stress is lifted. This relieving moment, however, is a huge trigger for senioritis. Once you get accepted into a school, there is a loss of motivation and effort and it can be hard to care about what happens from 8:00am to 2:50pm. What’s important to remember is that colleges do look at your grades throughout the year. So, as hard as it is to sit through hour and twenty minute classes and pay attention the whole time, it will be worth it when you are moving into the dorm of your dream school!
Oyster River kids are lucky to have so many resources when it comes to getting help on homework and studying, so if you find yourself unmotivated to study for your upcoming tests in math or read packets for your English courses, here are some tips on how to push through:
Utilize your free periods to the max! As tempting as it is to go home and nap, try to stay at school and sit in the library to do some work. Grab your headphones and listen to some acoustic guitar, and get to work!
Use your phone to help you manage your time. I use my reminders app to set reminders to do assignments, as well as the clock app to designate time for studying. I’m the kind of person who can’t just sit and do homework for hours. I find it helpful to alternate between 45 minute work periods and 5 minute break periods until my work is done. Allowing yourself to have breaks will make it easier to stay off your phone when you’re trying to get stuff done!
#2. Taking Every Opportunity And Planning Accordingly
After losing a year of my high school experience to COVID-19, I realized just how few school-sponsored opportunities we have as students. Oyster River doesn’t have many dances, socials and other events that make you feel like you’re part of the student body. In my senior year, I have gone to more basketball games, soccer games and hockey games than I ever had in my whole high school career, and it has most certainly helped make the year more enjoyable. It is also a great way to spend your last few months with school friends who you may not see for a while after graduation.
Alongside taking every opportunity is staying busy. Keeping yourself occupied is one of the best ways to keep your mind off the senioritis. I tend to spend my time practicing with the dance team, working on social justice projects with my friends and binging Euphoria on HBO Max. Whether it’s playing sports, getting involved in your community, or doing fun things with friends, it will help take off the stress of waiting for college acceptance letters and making big decisions. Similar to Veno, Paige Spencer (22’) says that staying physically active is the best way to keep her mind off of the senioritis. “It makes me happier and I feel better after working out.” she said.
Almost every senior that I talked to about senioritis said the most important thing to think about in your senior year is to plan your year strategically. Senior year has by far been my busiest year ever. By the time second semester rolls around, you know that you are going to be pretty checked out, so a tip for any future seniors out there is to do your best to get your harder classes first semester while there’s still some fire underneath you.
#3. Take it One Day at a Time
It sounds cliche, and it is, but the best thing you can do to cure your senioritis is to take it one day at a time. Being present in the moment will help you enjoy your last few months at school, because as we have learned, it goes by fast. And while most seniors can feel like graduation is so far away, it moves by faster than we think so we have to enjoy every moment of it!
I think it’s also important to figure out how to manage your time well. It’s super easy to put off doing homework until 10:30 or 11:00 at night after you’ve worked a 5 hour shift and somehow hung out with friends. Figuring out how to still prioritize school is especially hard because of the utter lack of motivation to do it, but it will only help decrease stress to get it done on time and while you are fully awake. Zoe Boyd (‘22) said, “I think about how ‘oh, I have practice tonight’ or ‘oh, I’m driving my sister to the barn and that means I have to get my work done first.’ By making sure I’m doing my work before I do other things it helps me to stay motivated. If I get home after a swim practice and it’s 9 o’clock, I don’t want to really do school work anymore and I probably won’t end up doing it, so I have to make sure I get it done early.”
Believe me, I know how hard it is to force yourself into sitting in front of the computer to do homework after six hours of learning and working without a break, especially when you’re a master procrastinator like myself. But by setting goals for yourself and getting the work done, you will feel the stress lifted off your shoulders when you have the night free to relax!
So if you are struggling to get through the last few months of your senior year, know that you’re not the only one feeling the symptoms of senioritis. And if you are a junior looking for some advice for your senior year, reach out to a friend, a teacher or counselor and prepare for the long, hard, inevitable disease of senioritis.