Senior slump

Students struggle to hold their focus during the final months

Students struggle to hold their focus during the final months

April 08, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

"We're floating, just floating through," says 18-year-old Greencastle-Antrim High School senior Jami Heefner.

That's how she described senioritis on a nearly perfect, sunny, 70-plus-degree day last week.

'Tis the season for a plague of apathy that is so real it gets a mention on the College Board's Web site.

The national nonprofit membership association's "mission is to prepare, inspire, and connect students to college and opportunity." These are the people who administer the SAT.

The College Board cites some scary numbers: "More than one quarter of the freshmen at four-year colleges and nearly half of those at two-year colleges do not even make it to their sophomore year."



The College Board points out that the "entire" senior year is of interest to colleges. Many college acceptance letters warn students that admission depends on "continued successful performance."

Tom Dracz, career guidance counselor at Greencastle-Antrim High School, confirms that.

The kids who are planning to go to college already have received their letters of acceptance, he says. But colleges want students' final transcripts that include grades from the whole senior year, he adds.

It's a rarity that a student would finish the year's work so badly that his admission would be withdrawn, he says. But it could happen.

"They just need to stay focused," he says.

The degree of slacking depends on the student.

The kids who are fighting for the top 20 spots in the class are less likely to get senioritis, Dracz says.

But at least a bit of the feeling can affect almost everyone. Nice spring weather contributes to senioritis. And so does the upcoming June 6 graduation.

"Anytime you get to the end of anything, you're looking forward," Dracz says.

He even admits to having senioritis when he was in school.

Principal Bonnie Cornelious says students "get a little squirrelly." But she adds, "I don't cut them much slack."

Several of her 210 seniors confess to having senioritis.

Megan Nowell, 18, laughs that she's had it "since second grade."

She's been accepted at Shepherd College and Hagers-town Community College.

What does she want to focus on?

"Got me," she says.

Megan admits to slacking off - but not as much as she could have. "I think it's important to learn as much as you can - to take advantage of everything they offer - free."

How is David Snider's senior year going?

"I'm doing terrible," he says. "I just don't care anymore. I just want to get school over with."

He's been accepted at Shippensburg University and probably will attend Hagerstown Community College. He plans to major in Spanish and become either a teacher or translator.

He says he's passed all the classes he needs to pass. "I just want to coast to graduation."

Does Roman Peli have senioritis?

"That I do," he says.

He describes it as unique - "kind of a warm fuzzy feeling."

Peli, 18, has been accepted at Penn State. Senioritis is kind of like a cross between not wanting to be in school, not liking being in school and wanting to stay home and sleep, he says.

Will he join classmates in skipping a day of school?

"Already did that," he says.

Joel Skutch knows where he's going to college. That would be Pitt-Johnstown - officially the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Skutch plans to transfer to Pitt's main campus and study business management.

"You don't really need to perform at your best," he says of his last two months of high school.

Skutch is looking ahead. "I'm now worrying about socially preparing myself for college," he says with a totally straight face. "Right now it seems like the social aspect comes first."

Kaitlin Johnson also confesses to a little senioritis.

It's something she says she experienced before, "pretty much since eighth grade, every time spring comes around."

But she admits she's a pretty good student, and she plans to study nursing at Penn State. She plans to be at the Mont Alto campus for two years, then transfer to University Park in State College, Pa.

Kaitlin's senioritis shows itself in laziness in doing her schoolwork and wanting to get out of school.

That seems to be pretty common. Seniors will be seniors.

Jami Heefner says she's been coming into school really late. It's really hard to wake up in the morning when your first class is easy, she explains.

She's been accepted at Bloomsburg University, where she plans to study special education or psychology.

She recently joined classmates in a senior "skip day," just going to a restaurant in Frederick, Md.

"We were too lazy to plan anything else," she laughs.

Survival Tips

  • Continue to set goals, in and out of the classroom.

  • Take challenging classes.

  • Maintain participation in extracurricular activities, sports, volunteering.

  • Keep areas of your life - school, social activities job - in balance.

-Source: Web site of the College Board,

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