You may have already come across the term “senioritis” while in high school, and perhaps you’ve dealt with a bout of it already as you prepared for your high school graduation. Now you’re an upperclassman in college and you’re facing the challenges associated with senioritis again.
But exactly what is senioritis? Explore this guide to one of the most common issues to affect college students. You’ll learn how to recognize, prevent and overcome getting burnt out so that you can enjoy a more productive and healthier senior year in college.
A Brief Introduction to Senioritis
Senioritis isn’t a clinical term, but rather a colloquial one that is used to describe the decreased motivation that seniors can experience as they approach the end of their studies. Many students may be feeling burnt out which is a natural response.
Not every student will experience this, and those who do won’t necessarily be affected to a significant degree. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you truly can be in control of your own motivation and health. If you find yourself in a funk, it’s definitely possible to break out of it.
What Are the Symptoms of Senioritis?
Senioritis can look a little different from one student to the next. Some students may experience only mild symptoms, while others might feel severely affected. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you might have senioritis:
- Are you having trouble getting out of bed in the morning?
- Are you spending the latter half of the day daydreaming about going back to bed?
- Are you showing up late to classes or skipping classes entirely?
- Are you having trouble getting your assignments done on time or are you failing to do them at all?
- Are you turning in your assignments on time, but delivering subpar work?
- Do you spend your study sessions scrolling for cute cat videos on YouTube instead?
The symptoms of senioritis — feeling burnt out, personality changes and lack of motivation — can lead to serious consequences. Unfortunately, senioritis can lead to tanking grades, frayed family relationships and job-related consequences, such as the withdrawal from work opportunities.
If you’re still in high school, you should know that senioritis among high school students can also lead to serious consequences. For instance, colleges sometimes rescind enrollment offers to students whose grades significantly decline during their senior year. Likewise, high schoolers afflicted with senioritis might have their scholarships rescinded.
What Might Be Causing Your Senioritis?
It’s often thought that senioritis is simply an indicator of laziness, but this is a rather a negative stereotype. Instead, consider the possible causes for your senioritis, such as the following:
- Shifting identity – You’ve been a student for most of your life, and now that you’re in your final year of college, you will soon experience a dramatic shift in your identity. Rather than being a student, you’ll be an employee (or perhaps an entrepreneur) and you’ll be faced with a whole new set of challenges and possibilities. You may have developed the symptoms of senioritis because you’re worried about the unknown (e.g. what life will be like after school).
- Pressure to find a job – College students are often told that it’s best to line up a job during the final semester or two of school. This is an enormous amount of pressure to contend with, particularly if you feel as though you must land the “right” job for you right from the start. Know that not every college student immediately jumps into the office the day after graduation; you do have time to sort through your options before choosing the path that’s best for you.
- Expectations – College is a significant investment in time and financial resources, and students sometimes feel the need to prove that it was worth it. This issue ties into the pressure to find the “right” job immediately after graduation. College seniors sometimes feel as though their parents and other loved ones expect them to have their lives already figured out.
- Long-distance relationships – College brings together students from all corners of the world, and many of them will forge close friendships during their four years on campus. As your graduation date nears, you may have realized that you won’t necessarily live close to your college buddies as everyone begins to look for work in various locations. You may feel as though you are already bereft of your treasured friendships.
- Starting over – With each year in college, it’s likely that you gradually became a more confident and capable student. But don’t look at starting a job as starting at the bottom, rather it’s a chance to explore new opportunities.
Of course, not every student is nervous about the prospect of starting their professional career and becoming a full-fledged adult. Some may simply be shifting their priorities. For instance, you may be eager to join the workforce and impatient to be done with your classes, and so schoolwork may no longer seem as important as it once did.
Identifying the reason for your feelings is the first step toward improving your mindset. Reflect upon the common causes of senioritis and decide which best apply to your situation. Then, consider how you can address your concerns and move forward.
Steps To Ease Out of Senioritis
Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is senioritis?” and the likely cause(s) of your own symptoms, it’s time to take a closer look at the senioritis cure. You may need to try a few different things to find what works best for you.
Here are a few ways to improve your motivation:
- Identify your goals – Everyone can benefit from setting both long-term and short-term goals, especially college students who are struggling to overcome senioritis. Your long-term goals can include landing your first job, and your short-term goals may involve getting a good grade on a paper or acing your final exams. Write down your goals in a visible place, such as on your day planner.
- Embrace motivational quotes – Some people are attracted to motivational or inspirational quotes. If that describes you, set aside some time each Sunday to find one or two motivational quotes for the week ahead. Write down each quote on a piece of paper and post it on your wall where you’ll see it often.
- Incentivize your achievements – If you’re still struggling to stay motivated, it can be helpful to reward yourself for reaching certain milestones. For instance, let’s say you’re having trouble making it to each class. After one week of not missing any classes, give yourself a small reward, such as a movie night.
- Get organized – Senioritis can sometimes strike when you have large projects that seem overwhelming (seniors in particular may have large projects for capstone courses). Break down your large projects into smaller, more manageable chunks. Assign yourself a deadline and develop a schedule for these smaller tasks so you can stay on track toward completing the whole project.
- Talk to a friend – You’re probably not the only one who is struggling with senioritis in college. Talk to your roommate and other friends about what you’re dealing with. It’s always helpful to have a shoulder to lean on.
- Get a change of scenery – If you always study in your dorm room or another set location, it can be helpful to have a change of pace. Go to the library or even a coffee shop for a study session. Or find another way to vary your typical routine, such as by going for a jog outdoors instead of at the gym.
- Take a break – Yes, really! Everyone needs a break now and then, and you’ve been working toward your degree for nearly four years now. Give yourself permission to take a Saturday off to spend time exercising, reading for pleasure, socializing with friends or participating in any other activity you enjoy.
- Schedule your electives – It’s helpful to arrange your class schedule so that you’ll have at least one or two electives available during your senior year. This allows you to take the courses that interest you, even if they don’t necessarily align with your career goals. For instance, you may decide to take an art or music class even if you’re an accounting major.
- Enjoy campus activities – If you’ve largely been preoccupied with academic endeavors up to this point, try to make an effort to get more involved with campus life. Your senior year is not too late to join a new club or sport.
- Venture off campus – For most college students, the campus is the hub of life. Most college campuses are vibrant, busy places, but sometimes it’s helpful to explore the possibilities around town as well. For instance, you might consider looking for community service opportunities during your senior year.
An internship can also be hugely beneficial for college seniors, for more than one reason. Not only can an internship give your resume and professional network a boost, but it can also help you stay motivated in your coursework because it will remind you of what you’re working toward.
Lastly, you might want to consider mental health counseling. A qualified counselor can help you explore your concerns and help improve your confidence. Counselors are experts at helping their clients turn negative patterns into positive, healthy ones.
Is It Really Senioritis or Something More Serious?
Sometimes, students might self-diagnose themselves with senioritis when they have a more serious mental health condition. The lack of motivation to get out of bed and go to class, for example, may sometimes be indicative of a depressive disorder, particularly if it represents a significant personality shift.
On the other end of the spectrum, some students may look perfectly fine to the casual observer. They may show up to class on time and turn in their assignments. Yet on the inside, they are struggling with feelings of isolation, hopelessness and other symptoms.
If either of these scenarios describes you, it’s worth taking the time to speak with a doctor. Your first stop doesn’t have to be a psychologist at a mental health clinic. Instead, you can talk with your primary care provider or a healthcare provider at your campus health and wellness clinic.
There is no need to feel nervous about talking to a medical practitioner about your mental health. You’ll likely spend a few minutes talking about what you’re going through and then you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire that assesses the severity and duration of your symptoms. Then, the doctor may provide a diagnosis or may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.
Know that you have the right to choose whether to get treatment in the form of medications and/or talk therapy; It’s up to you. But if you feel as though there is something going on with your mental wellness, it’s time to take the first step by talking with a doctor.
When you become a student at Grand Canyon University, you’ll enjoy the feeling of complete support from our caring staff, instructors and fellow students. We believe wholeheartedly in delivering high quality of life for our students, and we’re proud to offer exceptional student support services including our Health and Wellness Clinic, Chapel services, engaging campus events and club activities.
Approved by the vice president of Student Affairs on Dec. 5, 2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.