What seniors should keep in mind during their last semester of high school

By Kellie B. Gormly

Jessica Orlidge, 18, saw many of her classmates succumb to bad cases of “senioritis” during their last few months of high school, when even the valedictorian types started to blow off academics.

For Orlidge, the temptation to fall into the senioritis trap was tempting, and she did ease up the pressure on herself after she was accepted at Carlow University in Oakland. But, she is grateful that she still maintained honor-roll grades, despite all of the distractions of high school’s final months.

“In high school, it really becomes very apparent that college is right around the corner,” says Orlidge, a York County native who is majoring in art therapy at Carlow. “You have four years to get there, but four years turn into three and a half because you get accepted (into college) halfway through senior year.”

Senioritis. It won’t show up in blood tests, but the affliction is real and part of human nature. After three and a half years of hard work in high school — along with the time-consuming tasks of applying to colleges and making post-childhood plans — who doesn’t want to blow classes off and relax? The temptation is especially strong when students already have achieved their goal, and been accepted into college. Now, they think, I can coast through the rest of the year without working too much.

Although feelings of senioritis are understandable and inevitable, experts say, succumbing to it too much can jeopardize a student’s future. Colleges often look at a final grade transcript, and if grades have slipped, they can revoke a student’s admission. Plus, continuing good study habits in high school will better prepare a student for college, says Katherine Cohen. She is the creator of IvyWise and ApplyWise — organizations that help college-bound students — and author of books, including “The Truth About Getting In.”

“Seniors are a little bit burned out, having worked really, really hard,” says Cohen. She is a Yale alumna who counsels students in New York City. “They just want to take that deep breath, put their feet up and relax. You can’t do that. If your grades drop … (colleges) absolutely can take that admission decision away.

“You need to work as hard as you’ve always been working,” she continues. “I think there’s this message going around that you don’t have to work hard senior year … that it’s just more about graduating. … That’s a terrible attitude to take.”

Each year, Cohen tells students she counsels to beware of senioritis: it can creep up on you. It especially can hit when a student is consumed with college applications, yet students shouldn’t forget about finishing high school, she says.

“I really think they should make sure that they’re getting the most of their high-school experience … and learning everything they can learn to take with them to college, and start off on a good foot in college.”

Michael Lavrich, 18, admits that he had a bad case of “senioritis” a few months before he graduated from high school.

“I didn’t want to do anything,” says Lavrich. He is a freshman at Penn State-New Kensington, majoring in nuclear engineering. “My biggest problem was waiting until the last minute to do assignments.

“In morning classes, I would almost fall asleep all the time,” says Lavrich, who lives in Greensburg. “I would pay some attention, but I would mostly ask friends what we did in class.”

But Lavrich advises current seniors not to slack off, because his first month in college was overwhelming, and he says he wasn’t ready for it.

Lauren Miller, 19, agrees. She says the pressure of her senior year in high school was intense, with her advanced-placement classes. Yet, equally intense was the temptation to succumb to “senioritis” and slack off, because she was burned out and preoccupied with college.

In her math class — not the Greensburg resident’s forte — the disease did kick in.

“I didn’t want to be there,” says Miller. She is now a freshman at Seton Hill University, majoring in Spanish. “I really had to just force myself to go to math class.

“A lot of people in my high school were just so eager to get out of (school),” she says.

Don’t slack off, even though it’s tempting, Miller advises high-school seniors.

“Even though it’s their last semester, those grades are going to count and they’re going to show up on your transcripts,” she says. “If you start slacking off the last semester of high school, you’re not going to be prepared for high school.”

Orlidge also advises seniors to enjoy themselves, but not to just give things up, because colleges will get the information.

“It is your senior year. … Have fun,” she says. “Savor it. It’s worth it to be with the friends that you might not see in a year from now.”

The senior year is a milestone, and an exciting but stressful time, in a young person’s life, says Dr. James Manley, superintendent of the Pine-Richland School District. Naturally, students’ minds are focused on the future, and it is easy to neglect the present. Yet, students can take this restlessness and channel it into something positive, and not destructive, he says.

“It’s a great time to take advantage of senioritis: to look at positive things that are going to happen in their life,” Manley says.

In other words, seniors can revel in the excitement of the next phase of life, and even stop to take a deep breath — but, they shouldn’t forget to cherish the conclusion of this phase, he says. Many young people will be surprised to find that they miss high school after it’s over.

“Don’t count the days,” Manley says. “Make every day count; that’s our message to (seniors).”

Coping with senioritis

  • Look forward to the upcoming summer as your break time, not now.
  • Take an hour a week to relax and reflect.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating healthfully.
  • Keep a daily schedule, and pencil in time for homework every day.
  • Talk to your teachers, and try to tap into the enthusiasm they feel about their subjects.
  • Focus on your motivation for giving in to senioritis: you don’t want to lose your college admission, and ruin your future plans.
  • Make the most of your final high-school days, rather than viewing them as something to be endured. You will probably look back fondly on these days.

Source: Dr. Katherine Cohen, author and college admissions expert 

Article source: http://www.applywise.com/News_Newspapers_Pittsburgh_Tribune.aspx

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