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Second Semester Seniors

being a second semester senior: a cautionary tale from the mind of a victim of full-blown senioritis

The end of January for almost all seniors across the United States is a joyous time. Almost all college applications are basically done, and the end of the first semester of senior year (arguably the busiest one of a student's high school experience) is drawing to a close. As a senior that just finished up all classes and exams, I can tell you from personal experience that the dawn of second semester was a gleeful turning point in my life.

I'm guessing that anyone reading this post already knows this, but to understand why the end of first semester is such a happy occasion for the typical high school senior, you must be familiar with the college application process. It begins with the release of the Common Application in early August, characterized by prospective college students' frantic rush to their computers to register for an account. Over the next few months, their lives are a hectic flurry of essay writing, resume fine-tuning, and AP and IB class studying. During the months of September to January, I had to learn to balance a full AP courseload with eight college applications, none of which demanded any less than 2 personal essays each. It was a nerve-racking time, to say the least, and by the time winter break rolled around, I had been reduced to a caffeniated ball of pent-up stress.

However, it is clear from the fact that I am writing this post that I somehow survived this scary process. In fact, my brain has been on somewhat of an extended vacation for the past four months. Pretty much all deadlines for college apps fall before the end of January, so most schools really only see your first semester grades, hence motivation for working to get good grades falls by the wayside. I got into my top choice university early action, meaning I found out mid-January that I had been accepted. It wasn't even the end of first semester yet, and I had already achieved my main goal of high school. Therefore, it stands to reason that I experienced the hallmark symptons of the infamous disease that affects many 12 grade second semester students: senioritis.

Urban dictionary defines senioritis as "a crippling disease that strikes high school seniors..symptoms include: laziness, a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude." I am going to be very straightfoward here: I was afflicted by all these characteristics, and it wasn't pretty. Although I knew from the beginning that I must not let up grades fall too much or my college would revoke my coveted admission, my GPA still spiraled downwards. I would watch 3 or 4 episodes of my favorite TV sitcoms while doing my calculus homework, or worse, I would opt to not do the assignment at all.  I would drive out to the mall to do some new wardrobe shopping or look up future classmates from the college 2017 group on Facebook rather than finishing an English essay or Chemistry lab.

It didn't take long for my parents to catch onto my nefariously lazy new study habits--basically, all it took was the arrival of my 3rd quarter interim report. They saw the grades, and they hit the roof. What followed was a long-winded lecture on the evils of my indolence (one that I would hear again and again throughout the course of the semester), possible consequences being unprepared for the rigor of college courses or not even being given the chance to go to college, in the event that my acceptance was taken away due to extremely bad grades. Although they were all extremely valid reasons to snap back into routine study habits, I drifted right back into my senior dream world after my parents' soapbox.

Thankfully, I managed to keep my grades good enough to stay on the path to college, and my parents' anger subsided into reluctant defeat, as they realized there was no cure  for senioritis this bad other than graduation. I am writing this tale to warn all juniors and other students that will become a college-bound second semester senior in the future: BE CAREFUL. Let yourself relax a little bit after first semester senior year because you deserve it for your hard work, but do not take it to the extent that I did! The end of second semester was a mad rush to salvage all the missing assignments and points my senioritis had caused, coupled with AP exams, making the last few weeks almost as stressful as the beginning of the year. Moral of the story: Hard work ALWAYS pays off and causes less stress in the long run than being a slacker does in the short run.

Posted: May 28, 2013 by Lara Phillips

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