Second Semester Seniors

For second semester seniors, the dreaded disease “senioritis” comes in three different shapes and sizes

By Truman Stovall

The second semester of a high schooler’s senior year has a stereotype that everyone has heard of. The infamous condition known as senioritis will affect every senior at Dexter High School to some degree. As their high school career comes to a close, a senior’s grades, involvement in extracurricular activities, and overall effort tends to dip below what was previously expected of them. By the time graduation comes around, the average senior has skipped at least a handful of school days and is averaging about ten hours of sleep a night.

This can’t be said for every senior, however. While some might stay awake until 3 a.m. at a Tuesday-night party in April, others might spend the same long night studying in their room. For some seniors, their second semester has little impact on their future. Others became infected with senioritis a long time ago. For the rest, it is critical to stay focused and to maintain a rigorous schedule. In this article, we’re going to analyze the three types of seniors you’ll encounter this semester, including the ones you won’t see as frequently in the halls anymore.

No. 1: Hakuna Matata

This type of senior has had plans set for a while. They either committed early to a college after being recruited, decided previously that they will attend a community college, or will enter the workforce right out of high school.

Either way, the point is that they have a well-developed case of senioritis, and this final semester of high school should be relatively easy. Some entered senior year with a reduced schedule, looking primarily to earn required credits for graduation. It may have been years since they last opened up a textbook.

This type of senior generally has less to worry about than the others. AP or IB tests are typically only applicable to four-year universities, and students with a scholarship to one may not weigh the monetary value of using a high score to test out of a course as heavily. In other words, it might not make sense to pay the high AP or IB test fee to have a chance to save on tuition if their tuition is already covered by the school.

One of these seniors is Gwen McCartney. After high school, she will attend Washtenaw Community College (WCC) and plans to transfer to another college later. This fact has influenced her class decisions in her final semester but not her level of effort.

When asked if she was the kind of person to stop trying in high school if it’s not necessary, she said, “If I have ambition, I’m going to try hard.”

And despite not knowing what she wants to study in college, she does have ambition. Her decision to attend WCC for a year was mainly to get some core classes out of the way before finalizing big choices for her future.

“I keep good grades and am in an IB class, but I dropped my first hour because I don’t need it,” she said.

Overall, she said that her situation compared to others “feels pretty good. I don’t have a lot to worry about.”

No. 2: Prepaid Ticket

The second group of seniors has very little to worry about as high school comes to a close. They likely submitted their first semester grades to their prospective colleges and suddenly lost most of their anxiety. At this point, many colleges stop looking at senior year grades since their admitted students have already proven themselves through seven semesters of hard work, unless their grades drop a little too far.

Seniors in this category might magically reveal to their counselors that they were never actually interested in a full class schedule this semester and think a reduced schedule will improve their “mental health.”

Despite being able to drop a bit of extra weight, these seniors can’t start spending more time at Taco Bell than in school. Athletes will have to stay in shape if they play a sport this spring and seniors in AP or IB classes might get college credit if they score well on their exams. Failing a class might become a huge problem if it’s required for graduation.

Nate Skinner is one of these seniors. After being recruited for lacrosse, he was offered admission to Moravian College in Pennsylvania and committed to the school near the end of 2016. Skinner admitted that his decision to commit was a factor in his academic choices leading up to his last semester in high school.

When asked how the rigor of his class schedule compared to last semester, he said that it was “about the same. I still took hard classes, but I’m not gonna lie — I dropped IB Math Studies.”

Academics is still a motivation for Nate, though. He will not receive an athletic scholarship from Moravian, so when asked if he will continue to try hard in school, he said, “Yes, I still need good grades to get more scholarships.”

He’s taking AP Macroeconomics and IB Biology, so it’s obvious he didn’t decide to give up. He said that he will probably take the AP exam, but was still unsure about taking an IB exam.

When asked if he would have been more certain about taking the exams if he hadn’t decided on a college, he said he would “definitely” take both.

Overall, his second semester has been a mixed bag. He joined the National Honor Society this year, but for another club, Students Needing Accepting Peers (S.N.A.P.), he said, ”I haven’t been to a meeting in a while.”

Skinner is determined to play well this spring in lacrosse. After all, it is the sport he was recruited to play. But he said that he isn’t too worried about taking a day off here and there, citing senior skip days, weekdays that many in the senior class collectively decide are good days for relaxation.

He is pleased to be able to confidently look forward as his tenure as a high schooler comes to a close, and his security certainly makes the mental transition into thinking about the future easier, “It’s nice knowing you’re going to have a place to be at. You can work on the next step.”

No. 3: The Mysterious Beyond

The third type of senior is generally in the worst position of all. For them, the future is unknown. They may be accepted into a college, but it’s not their first choice, or they are awaiting the result of the rest of their application decisions and won’t know where they’re going to end up for a while.

This puts them in limbo for a while as they watch their friends start talking to their college roommate next year, drop out of some difficult classes, and generally feel better about their future. Couple this envy with anxiety about the tests they have tomorrow in AP Biology and Honors Humanities, and it’s easy to understand why you don’t want to be this type of senior.

One of these seniors is Marc Lopez. He is stuck in the middle. He hasn’t committed to a college yet but is in the recruiting process, and he has a list of potential colleges. Compared to the seniors who have their decision set and stone, this can be quiet stressful.

“I didn’t apply anywhere through early action,” he said. “I’m pretty much only considering Memphis, Wayne State, Lake Superior State, Albion, and the University of Saint Francis.”

This eases some of the stress than some of the other seniors have in this category, but altogether he is still behind the people that have already committed. He has to continue in school to ensure his chances for scholarships.

“I try in school and think I’ve been pretty consistent,” he said. “I see [not knowing where I’m going yet] as motivation to stay focused. But, at the same time, I have lost some motivation running.”

This kind of senior year is a lot like junior year all over again, except instead of hating yourself and having your grades all but determine which colleges you will get into, you still don’t know which colleges you’re going to get into and still hate yourself.