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The Senioritis Epidemic Reaches Another Generation of DP Seniors

Photo credit: Nicky Monreal

Photo credit: Nicky Monreal

By Jaden Gill, Managing Editor

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The health office phone rings again as another parent of a Dos Pueblos High School senior calls their child in sick, that is, if the student has not already turned eighteen and acquired the coveted privilege to sign themselves out of school.

These absences are not the result of a common flu or cold, but rather a uniquely contagious disease that is infecting a great deal of DP twelfth graders: senioritis.

Senioritis is a faculty and student coined term that describes the general, and arguably inevitable, lack of motivation experienced by a majority of second semester seniors as they live out their last few weeks of high school.

“I think the majority of it is kind of made up in our own heads,” said Nate Mendoza, DP’s Dean of Students. “We know that there’s this thing called senioritis that doesn’t really exist, but of course we’d like it to exist because it’s nice to miss school from time to time.”

As grades become lower risk, schoolwork proves “optional,” leading teenagers to ignore stress and embrace their teenage lethargy before being whisked away into adulthood.

“We do seem to see a decline in attendance for seniors as the year progressesspecifically the last couple months,” said Mendoza. “We have seen that as a pattern. We just hope that it’s better than last year and we have goals to make it better every year.”

While faculty understands that it is natural for students to become tired as the year progresses, there are still consequences set in place to ensure students are present at school.

“Students do lose privileges in senior’s activities, those seem to be things seniors want to do, so they usually don’t jeopardize that by not coming to school,” said Mendoza. “We’ve been holding students accountable for prom and for grad night. There are things that we try to use as motivation for students to be here every day.”

By the second semester of senior year, most students have received their college acceptance and rejection letters and have committed to their future school or opted for the popular Santa Barbara City College option.

Mandy Hagen, current DP senior and future University of California, Los Angeles Bruin has tried her best to stay self motivated and finish the year strong, but she feels much less stress now that she knows which college she will be attending.

“All throughout high school, I was like I want to get perfect grades or perfect test scores to get into college,” said Hagen. “Then now that I’m in, there’s less pressure.”

The drive to maintain A’s and B’s slips away as the notion that colleges have already made their decision takes its toll. Though for many, this is an opportunity to truly enjoy the educational opportunities DP has to offer.

“Teachers put so much emphasis on the purpose of good grades and taking classes to get into college as opposed to just learning in general,” said Hagen. “If the emphasis was more on learning and taking advantage of the experiences in the classroom rather than just getting credit, that might be different.”

With a decline in attendance comes a decline in academic success, giving colleges reasons to reject students, even those who have already been accepted.

“There’s definitely a fair percentage of seniors that have been smooth sailing all the way through and literally as we’re in the last three of four weeks, we’re like ‘are you kidding me, you know you have to send these grades to your colleges right’,” said Susie Stone, head counselor. “If you get a D or F, you have to report it to schools immediately.”

Being accepted to a school is one thing, but four-year colleges definitely require continuous effort in high school. Failure to live up to expectations can result in a reduction of scholarships or merit-based financial aid, and, in extreme cases, a rescinded offer of admission, forcing some to begin the college search all over again.

Both students and teachers agree that fatigue is to be expected when it comes to getting school work done, especially after four years of competitive academics, but that does not mean that senioritis does not have a consequential impact.

“It’s why we have summer school, it’s why we have adult education” said Stone. “there’s all these ways for students to finish their diploma, but there is nothing like the ability to be in that cap and gown and to graduate with your classmates and walk across that stage,” “You’ve put in so much time and so many hours, the finish line is right there. Get there.”

The end of the year is about celebrating all that seniors have accomplished, rather than throwing away the continued work that has been exerted over the past four years. Finishing the last month off strong allows graduating students to accept their diploma with pride and relief, making that extra effort worthwhile.

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The Senioritis Epidemic Reaches Another Generation of DP Seniors