2nd-Semester Senior Coasting May Be Myth

Annette Ungermann, News Editor

As an underclassman, when school got particularly difficult to manage, I found it helpful to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything, I was told, was ramping up to my junior year– supposedly the most academically and emotionally challenging year of high school.

This statement was repeated so often from upperclassmen that it evolved into a near-indisputable fact in my mind. High schoolers are taught to push and push themselves, for the time being, all to expect a (well-deserved) downward trend their senior year– the 2nd semester of senior year is for comfortable, stress-free coasting.

However, “senioritis” seems no longer a symptom of the simple belief that the finish line is in sight, and there is no longer a need to keep the execrator buried in the floorboard. What I see among seniors today is a paralyzing sense of purposelessness.

While seniors remain in the same structured environment with the same culture of academic rigor they have been in since freshman year, the motivation for keeping one’s head above water has changed. Many students struggle with rationalizing their current lack of ambition as individuals who have been conditioned to expect high performance.

The question of what really matters anymore, especially after finalizing college plans, is exacerbated by a sense of limbo between high school and the adult world. How many students cope with this often looks externally like apathy– and that can perhaps be a fair assessment. It’s easy to get complacent when it feels like your future plans are locked in.

If procrastination is a product of perfectionism, then senioritis is often a disease similarly contracted.

As I’m now able to take a backward view, I realize that hindsight is truly 20/20. This year has been far from smooth sailing; it has tested me and my peers in ways for which we were hardly prepared. And as “senioritis” has reared its head, I’ve learned that the supposed blessing is also a curse.

If I have any advice for those that will themselves one day be seniors, it’s that the difficulties you encounter in learning how to manage your expectations are ultimately invaluable, especially when they seem overwhelming. There isn’t often a single culminating moment of fulfillment. And while academic expectations of 2nd-semester seniors certainly shift, it’s not to the extent that you’d expect. There’s no such thing as coasting, and to those that buy into it, I’m sure a rude awakening is heading their way.

Without oversimplifying, (or sounding too jaded) it’s fair to say that even if it doesn’t feel like it’s uphill, it is. Even if you hit a mental plateau, the world around you might not catch up.

So to underclassmen holding out for the moment when it supposedly gets easier, understand the possibility that, for you, it may not. And it’s not overly cynical to have these clear expectations of what the world expects from you– from academics to fulfilling personal responsibilities. Sometimes the only way out is through, and I feel incredibly lucky to have learned this lesson right here.