Student Stories: What Is Senioritis?

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Katy Payne she/her

Editor’s Note: OSPI aims to elevate the authentic experiences of the students in Washington’s K–12 public schools. This story was written by a Washington state high school student participating in OSPI’s Student Stories Program. The author’s opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints do not necessarily reflect those of OSPI, and publication of this story does not constitute OSPI’s approval or endorsement of its contents. With questions, please contact OSPI’s Communications team at

As a senior in her final semester of high school, I have been hearing an uncountable number of students in my position self-diagnosing with the mysterious prognosis of senioritis. Senioritis is defined as “a supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance” by Oxford Languages Dictionary. Viewed by underclassmen, parents, and teachers as simple work-shyness and eagerness to be out in the real world, the causes of senioritis and its possible effects are sometimes left forgotten or brushed past.

Yes, one's junior year of high school is their opportunistic year for academic achievement. This is because junior year is the last time for achievements to be considered by colleges. Knowing this, I for one entered my senior year already demotivated in the home stretch and simply want to be free of the 7 am – 2 pm schedule.

Secondly, it is important to note that first semester senior grades are submitted to colleges and taken into consideration upon admittance. This key aspect fueled my drive to work hard and maintain high standing grades within that first semester. Sure, colleges have a gander at your second semester grades, but if a student is not failing any courses in the second semester, they will typically hold their admittance to the said college. In a way, this can enable the act of giving up and taking the easy way out as opposed to holding yourself accountable.

I have held myself accountable to keep achieving high marks by understanding that the Advanced Placement (AP) classes I am taking now will carry into college and will be put onto my university transcript. There have been times where I have wanted to take it easy or hang out with my friends instead of doing homework, but this self-reminder has urged me to keep going.

The effects of senioritis vary. For some students this illness means getting a B in an AP course. For other students it means not doing homework, and for some it means the halting of school attendance. While the end of my senior year is a busy time clouded by the inevitable goodbyes that will be had and desire to spend time with my friends whilst I can, it is nevertheless important to time-manage and keep up my work, to finish strong. I know that the private school I will be attending this fall will check my second semester grades.

Finally, many universities still require you to submit AP exam scores prior to your enrollment. The latter half of second semester is typically used for AP exam preparation, synchronizing with the time many seniors quit putting in effort. While your grades may not be considered, your AP exam scores will. So, instead of faltering in the face of presumed freedom, I’m taking that time to prosper and set up healthy habits for myself consisting of sustainability and reliability.

About the Author

Trillium Keith (she/her) is in her senior year of high school in the Mukilteo School District. She is an aspiring aeronautical physicist and plans to move to Scotland for university! In her free time, you can find Trillium reading, building robots, and going to see local bands.