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Senioritis is the decreased motivation toward studies displayed by students who are nearing the end of their high school, college, and graduate school careers, or the end of the school year in general. Senioritis is not a professional medical condition but a colloquial term (mainly used in the United States and Canada) that combines the word senior with the suffix -itis, which technically denotes inflammation but refers to a general illness in colloquial speech.


In more serious cases, where students allow their grades to drop significantly, to the point of even failing, universities may rescind offers of admission. Students who experience senioritis are often shocked, when colleges and universities inform them the summer preceding their fall semester that they can no longer attend the college due to failure in the academic rigor promised in the application process.[1] Nonetheless, most colleges do not rescind, and even the most elite schools only revoke a very small number of students.[2]

Senioritis in high school may cause incoming college freshmen not to be as adequately prepared for the rigor of college level studies, and may decrease their ability to gain entrance scholarships.[citation needed]

The time gap between college and university admissions, which are decided by March or April, and final exams, which usually aren't until early May (e.g. Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes), provides a challenge to seniors who are battling with senioritis. In addition, some advanced classes have tests, projects, and other major assignments relevant to the curriculum spread throughout the second semester, thereby ensuring that students remain busy with a constant stream of deadlines.[citation needed]

Pandemic properties[edit]

When students suffering from senioritis try to fill their days with other activities than school assignments, they often involve classmates in the activities they perform, or set examples for them in this way. This causes senioritis to spread among seniors.[3] They then spread it to other seniors, therefore creating a 'looped chain' effect where the condition eventually spreads outside the school the index case senior is in. This situation can often be as severe, or even more severe, than a pandemic caused by a virus or bacteria.

The pattern of the disease is often gradual. For example, an infected student might get infected and quickly develop the symptoms, which then can continue to develop gradually if the situation is not quickly addressed. As senioritis degrades the student's grades, the student might not notice or even deny they are affected.


James Coleman, writer and Chairman of the President's Panel of Youth, urged changes in the high school curriculum to address the problem of senioritis. These concerns gave rise to the implementation of a "Senior Semester" in many high schools throughout the country, which allowed seniors to spend time outside of the school or attend seminars in their specific interests. In 1974, for example, McKeesport Area High School in Pennsylvania received a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to establish a "Senior Semester" Program.[citation needed] The Evaluation Report for Senior Semester Program 1974-75 McKeesport Area Senior High School, McKeesport, Pennsylvania was produced by the Office of Measurement and Evaluation, University of Pittsburgh, July 1975. The Director's Report for Senior Semester Program 1974-75 by Dr. Lester F. Jipp can be found at ERIC ED 157 165.

The College Board, the National Youth Leadership Council, and other youth-serving organizations suggest that there are many ways schools can help young people make the most of their senior year instead of succumbing to the temptation to take it easy once graduation is assured. Giving young people opportunities to make their academic work more meaningful through service-learning, or other forms of experiential education, can increase students' academic aspirations.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schevitz, Tanya (October 10, 2006). "Colleges crack down on taking freshmen with 'senioritis'". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  2. ^ Mathews, Jay (February 4, 2008). "In Praise of Senioritis". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-06-06.
  3. ^ "Senioritis: Pandemic or Pushover?". Uncaged News. Retrieved 2021-12-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Martin et al. "The Impact of Service-Learning on the Transitions to Adulthood", Growing to Greatness 2006 St. Paul: NYLC, page 19. Archived December 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

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