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SENIORITIS - IS IT CONTAGIOUS? IS IT FATAL?Yes, it is very catchy and no, it is not fatal, but it can be debilitating. Senioritis is a certain malaise that often attacks high school seniors, although underclassmen are not immune.

What are the symptoms, what causes it, what are the ramifications, and is there a cure?

Symptoms: According to The Parentís Guide To College Admission the symptoms are apathy, boredom, defiance of authority, lack of motivation, counting the days until graduation, and a constant desire to engage in amusing pursuits. Among the danger signs of senioritis for colleges are: dropping harder courses, slacking off on others, dumping those impressive extra-curricular activities, increased absenteeism, excessive partying to the point of getting in trouble.

Cause: Spring fever is often the first diagnosis, but in some cases the real culprit is the release of stress built up over the past four years. The final goal of graduation is within reach, post high school plans are set and there is a misconceived idea that the second half of the senior year doesnít count anyway. So it seems like easy street and slacking off and relaxing is the reward. There is also a certain amount of emotional energy going on at this time for both students and parents. The time of separation from parents, siblings, and friends is coming and that can be threatening to everyone.

Ramifications for seniors: While any one of these behaviors seems minor and not very serious in itself, keep in mind that your acceptance to a college is conditional upon satisfactory completion of high school. Colleges maintain the authority and right to revoke admission if grades drop significantly. The same goes for admittance to the service and final employment agreements. Upon graduation most colleges require proof of graduation and your last semester grades. With admissions so competitive, colleges are less tolerant of those who choose to coast. I caution you to take to heart the fact that colleges DO send letters rescinding their offer of admittance to students as late as August if they find that students have slacked off too much.

Ramifications for juniors: For juniors an early case of senioritis can mean lower final grades for the junior year. Not only will this not impress the admissions committee but it could doom your application. Many colleges use the junior GPA when deciding on applications. You need to continue taking courses that challenge you and you need to continue working as hard as you can to maintain your GPA. When grades decline colleges become concerned as to whether you are serious about an education and ready to work hard in the more demanding curriculum of college.
Cure: The best advice is to stay the course. Donít throw away years of hard work. A couple of more months of diligence are little price to pay to finally reach your goal. Have some fun, but go to class, take challenging courses, do the work, and embrace the friendships you have made over the years. Keep open the lines of communication with friends and especially with parents so that you share your thoughts and feelings about leaving home and what is familiar. This is an exciting time of your life. So make sure that it is a happy one --- in other words donít blow it.

Judith Christie
College Planning Consultants