Is there truly an ‘epidemic’ of senioritis: students experiencing burnout feel misrepresented by the term

Seniors feel over-stressed and unmotivated as the end of the year approaches.


Seniors feel over-stressed and unmotivated as the end of the year approaches.

by Alexa Waser, Editor In-Chief

As graduation day gets closer and closer, senior students are starting to lose their motivation to keep up good grades and attendance in class.

Senioritis has largely been perceived as an excuse to skip class and not turn in assignments, but often there is  more going on under the surface.

Many seniors are experiencing real dread that comes with the home stretch, and  senioritis can often be a symptom of real burnout and anxiety for the future rather than perceived laziness. 

Senioritis has always been an issue but seems to be making more of an impact in recent years. In 2019, about 40% of seniors who graduated from Einstein High School in Montgomery County, missed large amounts of instruction. Many other schools across Montgomery County reporting high amounts of missed classes among seniors as well. 

“The driving factor of Senioritis is knowing that graduation is around the corner, and it makes me feel like I could get away with more things like skipping class because I won’t have to deal with the consequences at the end of the school year,” said Linganore senior Dimitri Gerogiannis. 

Senioritis tends to make everyday tasks and classwork seem extremely taxing. Students have said that they often find themselves sleeping through classes, having a hard time getting ready in the morning, and turning in less assignments.  

Linganore English 12 teacher Randi Kirkland mentioned that she has had only about 10 seniors who have not yet given up.

Feeling as if their future is secure, whether that means knowing what college they are going to, or deciding that they are not going to college, prompts seniors to relax and not put forth the same effort as prior years. 

“I’ve had my [plan for the future] in the back of my mind since junior year. With a realistic decision finally being made, I was influenced to not allow myself to stress as much as the years before,” Linganore senior Daryn Rowse said. 

Linganore senior Johana Benitez has also suffered a lack of motivation after solidifying her plans after high school. 

“ [Knowing what school I am going to] caused me to lose even more motivation with my school work. It gave me a mindset that I don’t need to be doing all these assignments and activities because I already got into the school I wanted to,” Benitez said. “ [I feel like]  all the late night studying, all the stress is over. I can finally relax and just enjoy my last few months of high school and just hang out with my friends before we all go our separate ways.”

When students know that they will be graduating and leaving high school soon, working hard so close to the end does not seem worth it; it becomes very difficult to find the motivation to keep up grades and attendance in their final days. 

“ The number one factor of senioritis is the idea that our futures are set before the school year ends,” Rowse said. “ If students have plans to go to a specific college that they are accepted into they will slack off because acceptance has already happened. If a student never wanted to go to college in the first place, then why would they treat school as if they were headed to college.” 

Kirkland also sees how being so close to the end is a driving factor of senioritis. 

“The finish line is so close, [and] your body is telling you … [school is] over … I can see it, [graduation is] so close, but the reality is we have 36 more days,” Kirkland said. 

While many students may start to use senioritis as an excuse to do minimal work, for many seniors, this time is extremely difficult. When there is still a lot of work to be done to get to graduation, and every school day feels like a drag, it becomes increasingly difficult to work at the rate students are expected to. 

“I strongly believe that senioritis is an actual problem,” Benitez said.  “It’s something that almost everyone feels when they are so close to finishing their final months of school. Everyone is just impatiently waiting for it to be over.”

Kirkland believes that senioritis is a mix of seniors using excuses and a real hurdle students have to overcome. 

“I think it is a real hurdle. I think it’s like anything in life though … like when you’re doing something that you no longer find joy in or that is tedious, which I find my seniors thinking. [Time] becomes slow moving … and I think that we have to remember its valuable lesson: that is building character in doing things that we don’t want to do because life is a lot like that,” Kirkland said. 

On top of the stress over the future, the lack of motivation seniors feel is often due to a case of academic burnout. With so many years of school, by senior year, students start to feel the effects of the countless early mornings and assignments. 

“I think senioritis is a problem that was born from how the education system works. In our fourth year of waking up painfully early five days a week, we are bound to show signs of withered motives. If senioritis causes as much of a problem for schools as it is for students, then they should try and show some sympathy,” Rowse said. 

While Kirkland agrees that teachers should be sympathetic, she often sees that the sympathy does little to motivate students to do better. 

“I think school needs to be sympathetic, but again if you’re too sympathetic, it’s been my experience that you are taken advantage of, ” Kirkland said. “My kindness becomes kind of ineffective to move them or inspire them to finish things.” 

Though it may feel pointless to put in the effort from this point until graduation, there is still a lot of crucial information that teachers want seniors to learn. 

Kirkland spoke about how though this time in school may feel wasted, there are still many important lessons being taught that can be especially useful in college. 

Kirkland said, “School is just one of those things that we’re [teachers/staff] in the business of making you better people, and when you skip out for an entire year, … you’re missing out on development opportunities.”

The finish line feels so close, but there is still work to be done. In order to get there, it is important for students to take breaks, look forward to the possibilities of the future and push through some of the things they do not want to do. 

Benitez recommends for other students to take mental health days  by doing something they enjoy, or spending time with loved ones. 

Kirkland urges students to keep working and use the opportunities or challenges of high school to help build their character so they can prepare for the bigger things in life. 

“Now this feels big, because this is your world, but I promise you, life gets a lot more difficult. There’s less people in your corner rooting for you, and you’re on your own for real,” said Kirkland. “ Hopefully you’ve been given the tools to take that on, head on. Just know that even these tedious little assignments and the rules that you don’t want to follow … they build who you are later.”