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A senioritis and post-graduationitis primer

Posted by Neal Schwartz on May 17, 2018

 

Senioritis and Post-Graduation-itis and their Impact on College

Senioritis-(definition from Urban Dictionary):

A deadly disease that strikes high school seniors. This disease makes seniors wear really smelly clothes, over-style their hair, and boys not care about shaving anymore. It also allows seniors to make excuses for not coming to school repeatedly, and it also allows them to party and get drunk as hell like college kids until they get in trouble with the police. Only cures are to put them in college or graduate.

After many high school seniors gain acceptance to their intended colleges, a pervasive and dangerous fog often becomes part of their daily life.   Years of working hard and doing all the “right” things have finally paid off, and they have reached the pinnacle.  They have achieved their objective of getting into a great school, and their friends have done the same.  Many students find themselves wanting to take their foot off of the accelerator and just relax.  Don’t they deserve it? The answer is that they should enjoy their success and relax a bit, BUT they should also remember what got them to that pinnacle can also become unraveled in a short period of time.  Ask any athlete, business professional, etc., whether they can just stop after succeeding. This conversation can be a tough one for students to hear, especially when the accolades are still ringing in their ears.

Not every student gets senioritis, but when enough seniors do, it can become contagious, infecting others nearby.  

When does senioritis occur?

This “disease” typically coincides with the college acceptance letter matching the student’s selected school.   Thanks to Early Decision/Early Action, senioritis can occur as early as December 15th of their senior year and can extend to regular decision notification in March/April.  The range of time for senioritis can be up to five months long. 

What are the risks of senioritis?

  1. Student’s offer from their selected college can be rescinded
  2. Student can develop bad habits related to school
  3. Students can develop bad personal habits

What dumb things do some students with senioritis do?

  1. Drink and post their “red cup” activity online
  2. Fail classes that risk High School graduation
  3. Cheat on tests because they didn’t study

 

Post-graduation-itis:

 

 

 

OK, so they finally graduated high school and are nine short weeks away from college orientation. What can go wrong now?  The answer from a parent of three is that this is the most difficult time of all.  

 

Risk:  Out of school and secure with the next step—college—parents become the only remaining influencing authority.   For the first time, a parent may discover that their angelic son/daughter will flex their wings to remind mom/dad that they are now a college student.   Basically, they will tell their parents to get off their back.  The student is fearless and independent. The parent will say something akin to, “While you are still under this roof, you need to do what we say.”  What occurs during the summer is something far different from senioritis, although it may look the same.  Students are now in an official transitional phase; they are NOT in HS and they are NOT in college.  This is purely an emotional state, with serious highs and lows. Students may embrace or distance themselves from HS friends and then either embrace or distance themselves from new college Facebook buddies.   Imagine a 13-year friendship that abruptly ends when one of them decides to move on. Emotions run high. 

 

Students can be wrapped up with a lot of feelings with the allure of college looming.  And yet, there is still the parent factor.  For some students, getting away from home is the best thing that could ever happen; others will be heartbroken to leave their home and supportive parents.  What makes post-graduation-itis so tough is that there is such a wide range of emotions.   Students are morphing, and it can be upsetting to them and those close to them.

 

Although post-graduation-itis has an enhanced emotional element of leaving something behind while moving towards something else, it still has the same set of common risks described above:

  1. Student’s offer from their dream college can be rescinded
  2. Student can develop bad habits related to school
  3. Students can develop bad personal habits

 

Things you can you do to parent through this situation:

  • Use facts to back up your fears
    • Use the Harvard example of rescinded offers (http://college.usatoday.com/2017/06/05/at-least-10-who-got-into-harvard-lose-admission-over-offensive-memes/)
  • Ask them if there is anything on their Facebook or Instagram feeds that might look offensive
  • For Senioritis:
    • Watch them “roam” and test their independence, but don’t be afraid to ask where they are going
    • Try to engage an older sibling to stay in touch with them
    • Find time to celebrate their wins and keep the parent-child bond strong and active
    • When they think about sleeping late or skipping school “because everyone else is doing it,” be thoughtful with your answer
    • When all else fails, re-state: “Not as long as you are under this roof”
    • Encourage their friends to come over your house so you can monitor what’s going on
  • For Post Graduationitis:
    • Same as above, but remind them that during this time, they need to start being that great college student BEFORE stepping onto that campus
    • Find time to talk to them about the tug from HS friends and the desire to make new friends. Discuss their fear of leaving what is safe and known, to venture into the new and unknown
    • Encourage them to embrace their long-term HS friends, and share what it was like for you; talk about your feelings and experiences
    • Give them time to feel uncomfortable and uncertain, yet excited all at the same time
    • Take that last family vacation before college starts
    • Use the summer to buy items needed for college

 

I can attest to the fact that senioritis exists, as does post-graduation-itis and that I never could have imagined my kids getting this disease.   Just be forewarned that the environment for seniors is ripe for them to do the uncharacteristic, to be different.   Stay in touch and help them manage this transitional period in their lives because they are likely to be uncomfortable and unsteady with the unknowns of sailing off into uncharted territory.


 



If you have a high school student and want to get started on the right path, contact us at 914-273-2353, nschwartz@collegeplanningofwestchester.com or visit us at: www.collegeplanningofwestchester.com 

 

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Topics: college admissions, admission advice, college advice, senioritis