“It’s just a little bit of senioritis,” my friend was telling me.
I laughed and asked, “are you sure you’re not just becoming a lazy bum?”
I said this as a joke.
At the time I was just throwing a friendly jab in his direction. It was the way our friendship had always worked. We enjoyed making cutting jokes at each other. This happened to be one a mild one.
The joke stuck around in the back of my head.
Around that time I let my grades slip a bit and I was wondering if my comment may have had some truth to it.
The Common Excuse
Senioritis is the common excuse for seniors that start letting their grades slip. This happens during the time after applying for colleges but before graduating.
Your grades from that point won’t make a difference because they’re already on file. Students that had A+’s through high school don’t need to stress once the colleges accept them. Suddenly, their motivation is gone.
This is a smart strategy when you look at it from these students’ perspectives.
Students that want top notch grades are looking to get their foot in the door of top notch colleges. Once they have that foot in the door, they lose that motor that was pushing them forward. Their drive is gone. If your motivation is to get into a good college then getting in will end it.
Of course, there are logical reasons not to let your grades slip, though.
First of all, no college has to take you if they find out your grades slipped after applying. Second, if you’re going to a top college because you want to learn more then slacking is just silly.
You’ll need every advantage you can get once college starts.
In fact, the tougher the college you got accepted into, the more you need to prepare. The students that worked the hardest to start have the most to lose.
A mediocre student’s college prospects won’t change much by slacking. A good student can screw stuff up.
It’s A Symptom – Not A Disease
It’s much better to classify senioritis as a symptom. It’s not the disease. Diseases may cause problems but symptoms are the problems caused by diseases.
If you’re suffering from senioritis then your biggest problem is not your grades slipping. The biggest problem is deeper.
Think about this: Most students DON’T suffer through senioritis. (I’ve been looking for quality studies to prove this. So far, I only have my own experience and a few small studies on it.)
I know it’s talked about a lot. Many students talk about it but few students see a large change from their usual grades. Senior year is just like any other year.
That’s because most students never put much emphasis on the college they’re going to. (Yes… maybe your social group is all into that subject. The vast majority of students have no intention of trying to compete for a top college. They care more about the parties or distance from their home.)
Senioritis is worst in students that were the most concerned with their grades. Reaching the light at the end of the tunnel is the perfect excuse for them to take a breather. They’re pooped!
Not only that. Their prime motivation is gone.
What’s the real disease in this situation?
It’s having an external motivation. Getting into the perfect college isn’t enough. You need to want to learn for internal reasons.
What’s Pushing You?
Getting approval from some college is good. Making your parents happy is good. Arbitrary letters grades can feel good too. These are temporary motivations. You’re not going to be able to push yourself when you lose them.
Someday no one is going to give a damn about your grades. People motivated by these kinds of things become boring and hopeless adults. Once the world stops pushing them, they stop improving.
Imagine a used car salesman that hates his life. He buys fancy cars he can’t afford. It makes him feel less depressed about his boring life. Sure… he has a fine looking car but the child version of himself is still embarrassed. He’s boring. No one wants to be this guy. (Example borrowed from Tim Ferris)
Once the world stops pushing… they stop moving.
Of course… some may be making 100k a year at top notch firms. They may look successful. They may look happy. It’s just a higher paying mediocrity. They settle for those “good” jobs when they’re capable of doing more for the world and themselves.
If you need other people to push you then someday you’ll lose that push. You’re always going to need those people convincing you to do more. Sometimes those people are close to you (like parents or counselors.) Sometimes those people are just peer groups that you’re looking to feel like a part of. (“I can’t make less than THEM. I need a better job!”)
There is an alternative.
Some people are motivated by the feelings they get.
Some people learn because they’re curious about the information they’re learning. They don’t suffer from senioritis.
Some people do well in class because they have something to prove to themselves. Certainly no change in the way other people see them will stop them from having something to prove.
Some people are trying to make a better future for themselves or the people around them. They’re not just looking to please other people’s primal urges. They’re looking to make a real impact on the world.
Senioritis? You mean giving up on the things you care about? Never.
What’s your reason for not letting senioritis kick your ass?
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Maybe She Won’t Notice
D’s eyes were watering at the score on the screen.
He was thinking, “Is this what I am now?”
The score was low. Lower than he liked to think about – and way lower than he used to get.
He was just hoping that his mother wouldn’t ask. He always hated telling her and it killed him worse to lie about it. It’s his mother… she wants what’s best for him and he knew he was screwing it up.
Staring at the score it hit him…
This has to change. On the next test, coming up in 3 weeks, he was going to make up for it. He was going to score high.
So… he studied. He studied for hours that night. He studied until his eyes were closing involuntarily.
The next day… he studied for hours.
And the day after that… he did it again.
But the day after that – his best friend was going through a bit of a crisis. So… he took the day off studying. I mean, no one needs to study hundreds of hours for a test, and he was doing well so far.
But the next day… he was exhausted. And, you know, exhausted studying doesn’t work. So he missed that day to.
The day after, he squeezed in some studying.
And… I think you know how this story goes…
The night before the test, he’s staring down at his study guide and cursing to himself.
It happened… again…
That night he buckled down and studied almost all night. (Until he virtually crashed at 3 am.) Every time he started dozing off earlier he’d get a snack or drink and keep on plugging. He worked. And he worked hard.
He even had moments where it felt like he was running better than ever. He felt like he was going to pull it off.
The test was the next afternoon.
And I’d like to say he knocked it out of the park and D saved himself with his last ditch effort to save his grade but…
I can’t say that.
Sure… D didn’t bomb completely.
But when he was staring down at his score… he was tearing up again. And he still was hoping that his mother wouldn’t ask him about it…
It’s not a number on a piece of paper.
I know… it can help reduce your stress to think that way, and there is a place for that.
But your future, your position in the world, is partially decided by these numbers on these papers. We all know it.
We all want to put ourselves in the best position possible – and these scores can do that for us.
And D knew it.
If you know it then join us.
D is kicking butt it this semester – more importantly, he’s doing it without procrastination rearing its ugly head.
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