I attended the all-sports banquet at Spur High this week where I sat next to the father of one of the senior students. He described to me a recent incident at home where his son apparently got into big trouble for eating more than his share of chocolate-covered strawberries prepared by his mother for a social event. The son had been told he could have x-amount of the strawberries, but he apparently didn’t stop there. Initially I didn’t see this as a big deal since kids have, for generations, been eating cakes, pies, cookies, and other tempting sweets intended for church and social functions before arriving at said affair. But the father’s desciption of the incident led into more concerned reports about the boy’s behavior in recent weeks. I recognized the symptons immediately, and, though the father seemed baffled by them, I didn’t see the episodes the father described as anything terminal.
In my limited experience–from mainly my own affliction 29 years ago and, more recently, in my observations of my friends’ children–I recognized the ailment as nothing more than “senioritis”, a term used to describe the direct physiological effects of a feeling of entitlement or privilege and a tendency toward rebellion and/or irresponsibility.
Senioritis describes the condition of many senior class high school students when they find themselves, with their plans made and a new chapter in their life about to begin, ready to move on. Finishing the current chapter is now only a formality, and they put themselves in a “holding pattern”.
My husband claims that he contracted senioritis on the first day of Kindergarten, but senioritis is not to be confused with a general apathy that many students, from all grade levels, experience due to a lack of motivation or interest. An accurate diagnosis of senioritis assumes that the cause of decreased motivation is the acceptance to college and the notion that optimal performance is no longer necessary to maintain that acceptance. Because of this, senioritis can only be contracted by seniors in high school.
Victims of senioritis typically exhibit a reduced concern for social acceptance, instead focusing on graduation and increased desire for leaving home. In visiting with the aforementioned father, he described how his son looked upon arrival home from the senior class trip to Florida. Cowboy boots, shorts, a souvenir t-shirt, and beard stubble, in the father’s opinion, was not acceptable attire for the plane trip home.
The condition can also manifest itself in increased social and extra-curricular activity, which comes at the expense of academic duties, with the student preferring to “have fun” rather than working academically. Go figure!
Fortunately for most students and especially their parents, senioritis is usually only a short-term illness. Only in extreme cases will it lead to other consequential disorders such as moving back home.