Just Your Annual Article on Senioritis

Annie Watson

Senioritis Season is upon us with novel severity. Here to discuss the infamous affliction are: myself, the two doctors I happen to live with, and a host of suffering seniors who selflessly spent their last scraps of energy sharing their stories.

In case you’re lucky enough to not have encountered the real and not-supposed affliction, senioritis is defined as a “supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.” Often instigated by college acceptance, this sickness is essentially academic consumption. According to EdMD, the symptoms include: mild to moderate cases of staring out the window, swollen ego, homework fatigue, inflammation of the whining gland, acute mediocrity, short-term memory loss, excessive tardiness, classroom intolerance, excessive hallway wandering, and existential malaise. At this point you may be thinking, “These symptoms sound mild and tolerable,” but I can assure you senioritis is marginally worse than that.

And now, because I was really proactive and followed through on my idea to send a Google form to the seniors, soliciting their experiences with senioritis, here are a couple authentic anecdotes from real seniors who happen to be anonymous:

Senior #1: It’s bad. Haven’t turned in anything on time since I got into college. Just trying to graduate.

Senior #2: I like learning, but I can hardly drag myself to wake up and follow directions. I do like learning though.

Senior #3: As a real student, I believe senioritis is really affecting me. It’s awful and has dire consequences on my nonfictional life. Oh how I wish my experiences with senioritis were a made-up addition to a Dig article, but alas, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones.

Now, enjoy five arguably relevant paragraphs about procrastination that I wrote for this here article and not for senior elective Anthropology:

Procrastination is a high school buzzword. When assigned an essay, students are often told, “Don’t procrastinate, you can’t write this in one night.” Coincidentally, these papers may or may not be for the same classes that feature an in-class essay during Finals Week. Regardless, I’ve never encountered an OES student who hasn’t struggled with procrastination at some point in their academic career. Using my personal experiences and the anonymous anecdotes of OES friends, I’ll explore the perception and culture of procrastination on school work.

First things first, everyone has their own beliefs and experiences regarding procrastination. There’s a spectrum of comfortability discussing procrastination. At one end are  the students reluctant to admit they’ve procrastinated school work, perhaps ashamed to have little to show for the time they’ve been given, or perhaps in denial about how behind they are. To the opposite extreme are the students who announce their degree of procrastination proudly (e.g. “I haven’t finished the intro”), and incite an unofficial competition for others to one-up them (e.g. “I haven’t started the intro”). The middle of the comfortability spectrum contains the majority of OES students I know, who regard procrastination as a reasonable, common point of conversation. Most kids I talk to, myself included, find themselves at varying points on the spectrum depending on the subject and manner of their procrastination.

In my own academic life, I’ve come to believe procrastination is a symptom rather than a disease. Many different factors can trigger procrastination on my school work, which is to say, I’m often procrastinating for different reasons. There seem to be three overarching types of procrastination I’ve experienced: conscious, subconscious, and semi-conscious. Conscious procrastination is anytime I knowingly, preemptively choose to put off working on a project. Subconscious is anytime I genuinely don’t realize I’ve stopped working on a project I mean to be working on. Semi-conscious is the most pernicious, dread-inducing variety, characterized by a perceived inability to work on a project despite wanting and trying to work on it.

At its worst, semi-conscious procrastination results in a phenomena I’ll call the “Inevitability Death Knell” which starts with the feeling that no matter what I do from that point forward, I won’t be able to meet the expectations necessary for me to deem the product usable, and ends with my decision to stop trying and move on. Essentially, when the Inevitability Death Knell sounds, I hear “failure is inevitable,” start to believe it, and suddenly the project in my arms is dead to me. For a real life example, every week we have activity that I don’t publish a Dig article, I’ve stayed up past 2:00am, writing or editing the piece intermittently until I feel incapable (due to lack of time or confidence in my writing) of finishing an article good enough that I’d publish it for everyone to see, so I cut my losses and go to sleep.

When I stay up all night trying to finish a Dig article only to pull the plug on it at 5:00am, all the Dig Staff and readers see is that I didn’t post an article that week. A reasonable assumption could be that I didn’t care enough to turn in anything, when the reality is that I spent hours working on and worrying about the article  before letting my perfectionism prevent me from publishing a piece that felt subpar. With no product, there can be no way for anyone to see the work I’ve done. But how helpless is the procrastinating student, really? If they wanted to avoid the consequences of procrastination, wouldn’t they simply not procrastinate? The answer to this question depends on the type of procrastination the student is dealing with.

And finally, a word from the experts:

As a medical doctor, would you say the only treatment for senioritis is for teachers to assign less homework?

“Yes.” -Wendy Watson, M.D.

“Sure.” -Randy Watson, M.D.

You heard it here, folks. Senioritis has hit. Hard.