The Long Winter Ahead: How Does a Senior Succeed in Second Semester?

Leesville students rush to get off campus for lunch on a chilly December day. As Leesville collectively enters Second Semester, many seniors look forward to easing the rigor of their daily lives. Photo Courtesy of William Sease.

It is a prominent phenomenon that in the final semester of high school, a chunk of students see their grades fall from their previously-held standards. Despite the best efforts of the staff to warn us with anecdotes of students who were suddenly denied their slot at a choice university, newfound adults are often honest and open about their perceived drop in motivation following Winter Break.

We are told that colleges can and will rescind admission for students whose grades fall notably toward the end of senior year, but the criteria that institutions use to decide when to rescind a prospective student is unclear and varies between admissions officers.

Rescinding admission to floundering students is probably a practice reserved by the most selective institutions, as 22% of colleges rescinded an admission in 2009, according to NBC News. Though little data about how often this happens (and to whom) exists, the general consensus among colleges seems to be that admissions officers truly do not want to break a student’s heart, but they will if the circumstances for poor academic performance are unexplainable. The only other ways to get “rescinded” are to commit a crime (and get caught) or to have lied on your application in the first place (and get caught).

Simply falling behind due to a drop in motivation is not generally considered a valid circumstance for failing to maintain academic rigor. So how does a senior, midway through their final year, maintain the academic standards expected of the institutions to which they have already accepted?

“While it is certainly a common infliction, it is my advice for students to combat ‘Senoritis’ as best they can. Seniors are under the incorrect assumption that once they have been accepted into colleges, their academic performance no longer matters. Colleges received final transcripts for students who plan to attend in the fall and if there are too many unsavory marks from senior year, offers of admission could be rescinded. Another common mistake is seniors “lightening their loads” and removing rigor from their spring schedules. Upon application, a transcript is presented to a college and this transcript includes senior year classes. Course selection and rigor are major factors in admissions decisions; so if courses are altered, the student is no longer the applicant he/she initially represented. Many colleges require that seniors contact the admissions offices directly to inform them of spring schedule changes. Finally, in order to prevent major stress and anxiety about successfully completely graduation requirements and walking across the stage, my advice is to stay engaged and on top of coursework from the beginning of the second semester,” said Sarah Oxendine, a guidance counselor at Leesville, in an email.

The germs that cause Senioritis are obvious and understandable: after three and a half years of proving oneself college material, it is clear why young people would desire a couple months to simply enjoy the high school experience, as opposed to maintaining the rigor required of some colleges. After all, the dirty secret of the college admissions process is that painfully few “top applicants” do a barrage of extracurricular activities purely for their enjoyment.

Even if a drop in school performance isn’t punished by colleges directly, students who arrive after 8 months of “taking it easy” are often slow to wake up to the realities of the college experience. It is not too hard to find people who were admitted to an institution and attended for a short time before expectations overwhelmed them and caused them to flunk.

Ultimately, there’s no method of defeating senioritis except just honoring your commitments, proving oneself to be the grown adult one supposedly becomes through these four years. As seniors entering the final stretch of the high school experience, we’re going to relax– that includes myself. However, the end of high school is merely the beginning of our adult lives, the beginning of tests which not only dictate our futures but our present, the end of sympathetic teachers, free lunches, and invulnerability in the eyes of the law. To be successful in second semester as a senior is to prepare yourself for the real world outside of this big campus tucked away in North Raleigh.

As such, these next 6 months aren’t unimportant and shouldn’t be treated as such.

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