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What is Senioritis and is There a Cure?

A group of college students discussing how to avoid senioritis.

You aced your midterm, finished the research for your final project and only have weeks until you graduate. Even though you’re on track to pass your courses, suddenly you begin to lose all the momentum you had at the beginning of the term. Where did all your drive go? If you’re struggling to read assignments, forgetting to turn things in on time or procrastinating with your coursework, you aren’t alone. You’ve come down with senioritis.

What is Senioritis and is it Real?

Photo of SNHU academic advisor Abby Tincher.The term “senioritis” is a common affliction describing the lack of motivation felt by students who are reaching the end of their courses.

Although it’s often used as a joke, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) academic advisor Abby Tincher said senioritis is a real thing people experience. “I would describe it as seeing the finish line and realizing you don’t necessarily have to work as hard anymore to reach it,” Tincher said. The loss of momentum and motivation leaves students hoping they can float through to the end.

What are the Symptoms of Senioritis?

“Senioritis is most often characterized by a loss of motivation,” said Hillary Smith, an academic advisor with SNHU. Symptoms of senioritis students should watch out for include a drop in grades, not completing assignments, procrastination and loss of interest in studies. You might even start skipping class or turning in work that is subpar. Tincher said senioritis may strike when you know you’re going to pass a class, and if you’ve lost all motivation, you may not care if you pass with an A or with a D.

How to Cure Senioritis

Tincher said the cure to senioritis is all about motivation. She also cautioned students dealing with senioritis to not be tempted to slack off. “Keep a positive attitude through the end and keep reminding yourself of your end goal,” Tincher said.

No student is the same, so a senioritis cure may look different for each individual. Smith said the first step to overcoming senioritis is to identify the symptoms; once you know what you’re up against, you can address the problems. “Share how you’re feeling with someone that can help provide ideas and resources,” she said, such as an academic advisor, guidance counselor or career advisor.

Steps to Avoid Senioritis

Study what interests you. “Schedule that final term or semester very intentionally,” Smith said. She suggested students take electives they are interested in with subject matter they can get excited about. If you don’t have any elective courses as you’re finishing your degree, review the options for your program’s final project. “Can you choose a topic that requires lots of interesting research or that you find especially thought-provoking?” Smith asked. Find a way to make the home stretch as engaging as possible.

Get involved. If you’re able, Smith advises students get involved with their school outside of the classroom. “You could do this by pursuing an internship, completing community service or joining a club, honor society or learning community,” she said.

Start thinking about your future. Are you excited about entering a new career field, throwing your hat in the ring for a promotion at work or applying for graduate school? Let whatever you’re looking forward to help keep you determined to succeed. “Get excited about your opportunities post-graduation and use that to fuel your motivation through your final term or semester,” Smith said.

Tips for Overcoming Senioritis

If you feel senioritis setting in, there are a few things you can do to get yourself back on track.

Set goals to get you motivated. Tincher said the first step in overcoming senioritis is knowing what your goals are. “You can change your goals along the way, but make sure to have at least one so you have something to aim for. If you’re a visual person, put something around you to remind you of your goal,” she said. Tincher suggested placing photos or motivational words where you’ll be reminded of what you’re working for or toward.

“Set short and long-term goals to stay motivated. Crushing those short-term goals will make you feel good and allow you to celebrate smaller victories,” Smith said. “There is nothing more gratifying than crossing something off your to-do list.”

Reward yourself. If you need additional motivation, plan an incentive for when you reach set milestones. “Create a reward system if you find you are motivated by certain outcomes,” Tincher said. Plan for a night out for dinner and a movie, attending an event you want to attend or going on a well-deserved vacation on the condition you reach the goals you set for yourself.

Photo of SNHU academic advisor Hillary Smith.Get yourself organized and on schedule. “Stay organized,” Smith said. “Falling behind or procrastinating will only make your senioritis worse! Breaking up your work into smaller pieces will make it feel more manageable.” Smith suggested using a planner or time management app on your phone or computer to help schedule when you’ll be able to work on assignments. Be sure to pencil in time in for relaxing with friends and family as well.

Surround yourself with support. Smith advises students surround themselves with people who are positive and are there to motivate, not distract. “Keep positive people around you who support you and your goals,” she said. “Friends and family can be really helpful to push you through.”

Change things up. Smith said changing up your environment by working on your coursework in a new place can help jumpstart your motivation. She suggested taking your work to the library, reading outside or catching up on assignment at a coffee shop “to get a change of scenery and to eliminate distractions at home.”

Take a break. “Most of all, if you feel like you’re crashing, take a step back,” Tincher said. “You do actually need breaks and your mind or body crashing is a sign that you may be overdoing it.” While breaks are important, don’t let it lead to slacking off. “It’s okay to step back, just set a limit so you get back to work and don’t fall off completely.”

Remember what you’re working toward. Smith said the student’s personal journey is an important motivator. “Remind yourself why you started this journey in the first place and hang onto that,” she said. Look at all the work you’ve done and recognize what you’ve accomplished. “Be proud of yourself and use that as motivation to carry yourself through graduation,” Smith said.

Ashley Wallis is an Army veteran and writer with a BA in English Language and Literature from SNHU. She is currently living in the Denver area. Find her on Twitter @AshDWallis.

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