HomeArticlesSenioritis Rampant!

Dear Estelle. With college applications complete, a few acceptances, and half of second semester gone, our senior has assumed a new personna. She no longer gives adequate time to homework, finds high school activities boring, and expresses an interest in doing things which my husband and I consider risky. Friends with seniors indicate their children are experiencing similar personality changes. Is this normal or should we be concerned and consider acting proactively with her? We don’t want her college acceptances in jeopardy due to bad grades.  C. Thompson, parent, Highlands Ranch

Just this week while attending a Kent Denver/Cherry Creek High School soccer game, I was chatting with a few moms. They mentioned that their seniors were devoting little time to homework, seemed to have lost their focus and spend hours hanging out at Starbucks with their friends. Your daughter, like so many others, is experiencing senioritis, a malady exhibited by numerous seniors who already have their feet in college, even though they may not know yet where they’re going. Recalling the terrible two’s and middle school behavior, this is another transition time for your child. They are ready for more independence, and parents, concerned about the changes they see are reluctant to give it to them. In her book “The Launching Years” author-psychologist, Dr. Laura Kastner outlines three distinct behaviors that constitute this period in a senior’s bid for independence.

  1. The Academic Slump  Students become indifferent to school or make less of an effort. They may be occasionally truant or want to drop a class. Some may become confrontational with teachers whose expectations have not changed.
  2.  Blahs to Everything  Nothing is interesting to them, neither their friends nor their activities, which typically engage them. Everything is boring.
  3.  Power Surges  During this period, it is not unusual for the student to feel the need to call his own shots and make his own decisions. Many exhibit an attitude of heightened competency coupled with the need to be trusted.

For students who have slacked off and fallen into an academic slump, consider the possibility that colleges have the right to rescind your application. Somewhere in all those college admission letters, after the “congratulations” part, is a sentence that states…… “admission is conditional upon the student completing high school with the same academic and personal achievement on which your acceptance was based.” Each year colleges rescind offers to students whose grades have plummeted after they were admitted. A couple of “D’s” on a transcript could be disastrous. Most colleges require final senior year grades for students. Although many students believe that only first semester grades count, don’t you believe it! Your admissions could be in jeopardy. At the very least, you might have to explain your poor performance.

Poor behavior during the last few months of high school can also result in the revocation of a student’s admission. Several years ago a student’s admission was denied after he was “kicked out” of school for drug use.

Senior year is a good time to savor the remaining year of school and enjoy your last few months with family and friends. The key is to balance academics with other commitments and not “slack off.” Colleges can change their minds.

This is a time of parent senioritis too. During these trying times, parents need to examine their own feelings and emotions and recognize their teen’s behavior may be signaling the end to “child-rearing” for this particular child, and adjust accordingly.

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