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What is Senioritis and is There a Cure?

A group of students sitting outside, discussing the cure of 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?

Abby Tincher, a Faculty Training and Development Facilitator at SNHUThe 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) Faculty Training and Development Facilitator 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 Shields, 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.

What Might Be Causing Your Senioritis?

According to Education World, senioritis can be caused by a few different factors, including detachment anxiety or a desire to get started on the next chapter of your life. Senioritis might also be seen as a type of college burnout.

But before looking at cures, you'll need to find out if it's really senioritis — or if you're struggling with something else.

Is It Senioritis or Your Mental Health?

While a loss of motivation is associated with senioritis, it can also be a sign of depression. According to Mayo Clinic, some additional signs of depression include:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Lack of energy and loss of interest in hobbies
  • Sadness and feelings of emptiness
  • Unexplained physical symptoms

Mental health is important for your overall quality of life. If you're struggling with symptoms like these, see a mental health professional for treatment and reach out to your support system.

An icon of a graduation cap.Why is Senioritis a Concern for High School Students?

If you're a high school senior dealing with senioritis, it's important to get back on track as soon as possible to avoid any potential consequences.

According to Forbes, it isn't uncommon for colleges to rescind admission offers to students who receive poor grades as high school seniors. If you want to be sure your plans for college aren't disrupted, it's important to stay on top of your studies in your senior year and address any signs of senioritis early.

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. Shields 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

There are a few things you can do to prevent senioritis before it starts.

  • Hillary Shields, an academic advisor with SNHUStudy what interests you. “Schedule that final term or semester very intentionally,” Shields 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?” Shields asked. Find a way to make the home stretch as engaging as possible.

  • Get involved. If you’re able, Shields advises students to get involved with extracurricular activities 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 a master's degree? 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,” Shields said.

If you're engaged in your studies and your life, you can prevent yourself from losing motivation.

Find Your Program

7 Tips for Overcoming Senioritis

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

1Set Goals

Tincher said the first step in overcoming senioritis is knowing what your goals are. She recommends having at least one tangible goal, and if you’re a visual person, put something near you to remind you of your goal. It could be as simple as a photo or some motivational quotes to remind you of what you’re working for or toward.

Shields agrees. “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,” she said. “There is nothing more gratifying than crossing something off your to-do list.”

2Reward YourselfA celebration icon

If you need tips to stay motivated, 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.

3Get Organized and On Schedule

“Stay organized,” Shields said. “Falling behind or procrastinating will only make your senioritis worse! Breaking up your work into smaller pieces will make it feel more manageable.” Shields 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.

4Surround Yourself With Support

Shields advises students to 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.”

5Change Things Up

An icon of three checkmark list items leading to a graduation cap.

Shields 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 assignments at a coffee shop “to get a change of scenery and to eliminate distractions at home.”

6Take 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 them 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.”

7Remember What You’re Working Toward

Shields 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,” Shields said.

A degree can change your life. Choose your program from 200+ SNHU degrees that can take you where you want to go.

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.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.