Avoiding Senioritis

By Huntington Learning Center

After three and a half years of hard work, it’s easy for teens to lose motivation as they near the end of high school. Once teens achieve their desired SAT/ACT scores, apply to colleges and decide which one to attend, it’s understandable that they might assume that the hard work is behind them.

Reality check: the final semester of high school really is important. So, parents if your high school seniors seem to be losing steam, here are a few things to share that should help them get back on track:

Explain that college admissions officers do pay attention to final semester grades. What teens might not realize is that if their grades decline significantly after they’ve accepted admission to a college, they’re at risk of getting their admittance revoked entirely. In fact, many colleges even state in their admissions letters that admission is contingent on students’ continued successful performance until high school graduation. Expect that colleges will review the final high school transcripts of all admitted students.

Talk about their goals. Many students hit ruts along the academic journey. It can be helpful for such students to take a step back and think about what they’ve been working toward. There’s nothing wrong with releasing some of the pressure once students have selected a college and are making plans for their future careers. However, a reminder of what’s in front of them can be the boost students need in the home stretch of high school.

Most Advanced Placement (AP) exams are in May. Teens taking AP classes with the intention of sitting for the corresponding AP exams must keep up with class work if they want to perform well. The AP exams are given in the first two weeks of May. The AP program has two important benefits. First, students earn college credit by scoring high enough on AP exams. And second, AP classes actually help prepare students for college because of their similarity to college classes as far as structure and rigor.

Think about college class placement. Some colleges and universities require students to take one or more placement exams in subjects like math, reading, writing and foreign languages before they finalize their freshman year schedule. These tests measure what students have learned in high school, making it all the more important for teens to get as much out of their remaining classes as possible. Slacking off and getting placed in unchallenging classes (or even remedial classes) would be a disappointing way for a student to begin college—and long term, a waste of money.

Bad habits now could translate into a rough start at college. Doing the bare minimum (or not even that) could be a tough habit for students to break. Teachers are working diligently to prepare their second-semester seniors to succeed in college. Teens should take full advantage and soak up all of the knowledge and study skills they possibly can.  

Senior year is an emotion-filled time for many teens. The culmination of so much hard work, anxiety and contemplation about the college decision can easily lead to senioritis. Remind your teens why they should stay focused and finish their high school careers strong. When they get to college and begin the next chapter of their lives and feel motivated and well prepared, they will be grateful that they did.

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