Senioritis: the Silent Killer

Attention, high-school seniors: With the end of the school year approaching fast, a pandemic is afflicting students like you across the country. No, it’s not Swine Flu—but this condition might force you to take a few “sick days” before the end of the semester, if you know what we mean.

In case you haven’t figured it out already, we’re talking about senioritis.

Merriam-Webster defines it as “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades.” (The suffix –itis actually refers to inflammation or swelling, but you don’t have to worry about that until next year, when you put on the dreaded “freshman 15.”) Whatever senioritis means to you, avoiding it is more important now than ever.

According to an article in USA Today, colleges and universities will take final grades into account to an unprecedented degree in 2009. Why? For starters, the economy is in dire straits, and schools aren’t confident that everyone they admit will be able to pay tuition. The solution? Admit more people!

There’s just one problem, the article’s authors say: “If they find they have over-enrolled their incoming class, they may be more likely to revoke an offer of admission to those who haven’t maintained top grades.” That means you have to tough it out for a few more months, even if you’ve already received a fat envelope from your dream school.

But it’s not all bad news. Finishing strong in high school will pay dividends down the road. Not only will you make sure you end up at the right school, you’ll also build the skills and work ethic that undergraduates need to succeed.

When you get to college, you’ll be expected to motivate yourself and keep up with a much more demanding schedule of classes. Sure, you’ll have advisors, but no one will put you in detention if you skip class, or send a note home to your parents if you flunk a midterm. It’s all on you.

So think of your last few months in high school as a test run. Can you avoid the urge to slack off, even when no one is watching? Will you put in the time and effort to write an excellent paper—not just a good one—even if it means missing a party or two? How you answer these questions says as much about your college hopes as your GPA or your SAT score, if not more.

Besides, it’s better to play it safe. Everyone wants to leave high school with a few good stories to tell, but getting accepted to your dream school only to lose your spot thanks to bad grades is kind of a downer.

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