A Rite of Spring – Perspectives on Senioritis at Hackley


Credit: Tommy Larson

Senior Matt Jean relaxes on the couch and reminsisces about his time at Hackley. Seniors prefer to unwind in the senior lounge during their free time.

As warm weather finally graces the hilltop, with it comes an annual rite of spring. “Senioritis” is a colloquial term used to describe changing attitudes towards school, and decreased motivation towards studies by seniors nearing the end of high school, particularly once they are accepted into college. This phenomenon has a substantial impact on high schools throughout the country, and Hackley is no exception. While some people characterize senioritis as an excuse that lazy people will use to get out of work, many seniors feel that description doesn’t accurately reflect senioritis.

People have been working hard in order to reach an external goal of getting into college, and once they get into college their effort often drops substantially.”

— Max Mallett

Senior Valentina Castro described the way she feels seniors view senior spring, stating. “It is an opportunity to refresh and chill after four long years of work and before four more years of work. This is a brief window of time where there is less of a pressure in school and you can more focus on hanging out with friends and mental health without worrying about getting every little thing right.”

Max Mallet, another senior, shared his opinion on the cause of senioritis, “Whether it is intended to or not, a lot of our school system is looking towards the future. People have been working hard in order to reach an external goal of getting into college, and once they get into college their effort often drops substantially.”

Senior Amy Chalan suggested one senior’s decreased effort encourages other seniors to follow. She said, “When I first got in [college] I was more excited because I didn’t have to worry too much about my grades and I was more focused on learning so my effort was ok, but now that our entire grade is kind of relaxing, the general atmosphere is more easy going and more focused on spending time with each other and it’s a little bit harder to put the same effort I did into my work every day.”

Hackley’s mission statement does not suggest the purpose of education is to get into college, or to get a job, but to “challenge students to grow in character, scholarship, and accomplishment, to offer unreserved effort…” Senioritis reflects that some Hackley students don’t fully embrace the challenge to grow for the sake of growth but are also motivated to some extent by external factors like college.

Amy gave another reason that senioritis is problematic: saying, “I think the teachers are a little offended because we aren’t putting in as much effort even though we might really love the class and they are teaching really interesting material.”

Another risk of senioritis is grades dropping, which can lead to colleges rescinding acceptances; however, this rarely occurs. In order to further incentivize seniors to keep working, Hackley has a few policies that help prevent senioritis from getting out of hand. If a senior’s third-trimester grade drops a full letter below their second-trimester grade or if they miss one of their major classes seven times, they can be given a project that they must complete in order to graduate. Further seniors who fail the third trimester of a class must do work over the summer to receive a diploma.

Amy said, “I feel throughout high school we have always dedicated ourselves 110% to schoolwork to the point where we haven’t gotten sleep, and really, people have been struggling with the anxiety around schoolwork, so finally being able to have balance can be a good thing.” While the terms senioritis is often used pejoratively and to some extent, there is some missed opportunity for academic growth, for some students, it can also be a unique opportunity for students to grow and develop their own personal priorities during their final time at Hackley.