Senioritis: a legitimate excuse

Lately, my life has been defined by an outrageous set of questions: do you think anyone will notice I wore these yoga pants yesterday (and the day before that)? When can I fit in a second nap today? At this point, is 10 percent of a grade really a big deal?

I’m not proud, but as a senior, my lack of motivation, decreased apathy towards classes and chronic procrastination has hit me full force. I have faced the demands of college for three full years, and quite frankly, I am burnt out.

It’s certainly convenient to throw  the term “senioritis” around as a justification to slack off a little of the responsibility we’ve carried for an extended period of time—and enjoy what time we have left in college.

But senioritis goes deeper than being stressed and wanting to have fun. Honestly, students encounter those feelings on and off throughout their college years.

So why does the term “senioritis” have merit?

While senioritis isn’t a medical condition, it is a relevant mentality that hits seniors for many reasons.

Seniors face unique features in their final semesters that make some more susceptible to feelings of stress, Dr. Cynthia Bane, professor of psychology, said.

“I think to slap the label of senioritis on it makes it seem inevitable and uncontrollable, and it also isn’t that useful in terms of understanding the causes behind it because you can see those different things happen for different reasons for different people.”

Bane feels that the main contributor to senioritis is the intense focus on the future, rather than the here-and-now, and that daunting question: “what are you going to do next year?”

Most cases of senioritis stem from the anxiety of facing the imminent change from college into the real world, Bane said.

This transition period causes a mix of feelings: excitement to start a new, more glamorous chapter; sadness at facing the end of college, fear of unanswerable, intense questions about the future; and pressure from the academic demands of senior year, she said.

It’s overwhelming and she said some seniors disconnect as a way to manage some of that stress.

“You can’t stop the future from happening and you can’t escape the fact that your time at Wartburg is ending, so [seniors] disengage from their academic stuff just as a way to avoid other kinds of stress,” Bane said.

Since Sept. 3, I’ve heard so many of my fellow seniors say in moments of frustration and exhaustion, “I simply don’t care anymore.”

“It’s healthy to admit when your motivation is waning and it’s good to be mindful of it. Then what you do with that it’s the important thing,” Bane said.

Though the inclination is to say, “I quit,” do we really use senioritis as an excuse to stop working all together?

Though it’s tempting, we can’t completely check out. Or we could and regret it later.

Bane’s advice to seniors: focus on the here-and-now, and do it anyway. Bane said it is possible (now and throughout life) to note feelings of low motivation and still get through the work that needs to be done. Inspiration doesn’t have to hit to be productive, and sometimes just getting to work can increase motivation or feel rewarding to complete, Bane said.

“Pay attention to what’s going on in your senior year and be present for it. You shouldn’t just focus on what’s happening next and then not be completely immersed in the here-and-now because this is a chapter of your life that’s important,” Bane said.

And hey, if this advice didn’t hit home with you, there’s only 194 days until graduation—or 33 days, if you’re a bit luckier.

Leave a Reply