Senioritis is a dreaded word known to every student and can make applying for college difficult. But what is it, and how can a parent help? Here’s what you need to know.



n. Informal A reduction of academic focus or worsening of academic performance characteristic of some high-school seniors, especially after acceptance into college.

The only known cure: graduation!

CAUTION: this disease is not exclusive to seniors. It can affect other teenagers in the form of spring fever!

What are the causes?

  • Burnout. Many students have worked very hard in high school and are just “done”.
  • Excitement for graduation. In all the excitement of senior year, students can lose focus on their studies and just want to enjoy all the “last”s: last games, plays, dances, proms.
  • Fear of change. For some, there is a real fear of the unknown and change that graduation will bring, causing teenagers to “bury their heads in the sand”
  • Parental apathy. It is not unusual for parents to feel “done”

Spoiler alert:  parents you are not “done”, you never are!

How can parents help?

  • Talk to your teen about your expectations

Is your teen breaking your house curfew?  Do you have to nag more? Is your teen telling you what they are doing where previously they asked?  Teens having trouble getting up in the morning (more than usual)? Apparently no more homework?  Plan a meeting (or go for coffee) and discuss your concerns.  Reinforce what your expectations are.  Treat your teen with respect and honor that they are becoming a young adult.

  • Help keep teen organized with a calendar or planner.

A wall calendar in the kitchen as well as a planner in their bedroom with all the important dates:  Prom (and all the details that accompany that); IB/AP tests; college tuition and housing deposits; senior award assembly; Senior reception;  graduation.  Offer to help your teen with the details.

  • Help teens to think about the future and consequences of today’s actions.

Teens have worked so hard for 4 years and yes, they feel done.  However, colleges need to see the final grade report and that the student graduated. All colleges reserve the right to rescind admissions offers.

Driving to the beach after the Prom is probably not a great idea, neither is a hotel room downtown.  Offer some alternatives to keep the teens safe.

Many seniors are done early with classes and end up with free time before graduation, which almost every year has a devastating outcome.

  • Encourage you teen to try something new. With Rose Festival around the corner, many high schools have teams in the Dragon Boats.  Sign up to be an Outdoor School Counselor.  Organize friends for a “service day”.
  • Encourage teen to get a part time job. The extra money will come in handy next year.
  • Celebrate and honor the rituals of graduation. Many students will participate in the school senior all night party after graduation.  Host a neighborhood or family party in honor of the grad.
  • Most of all, remember (and perhaps remind your teen) you were once there as well. Share specific memories, this is a rite of passage!

This is all well and, now throw in a pandemic! I recommend parents acknowledge but don’t dwell on all the things you student may be missing out on. Try to spin a positive and think creatively. Staying safe and healthy is of utmost importance at this time!

It’s never too soon to start the conversation about college readiness, and senioritis sets in well before it’s time to apply. To learn more about how Marie can help, schedule a 20 minute discovery call today!


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