Parenting Perspective: Senioritis sweeps high schools
March 28, 2011 (WPVI) -- On a recent Tuesday night, my 18-year-old son Jason was supposed to be working on a project for his AP Government class. Instead, he was furiously Facebook messaging his friends to set up limo rides for the senior prom. The prom isn't until May. The Gov project was due the next morning. Clearly, Jason, who has already been accepted to Carnegie Mellon University, has senioritis.
And it seems Jason isn't alone. In high schools across the country, students are beginning to show definite symptoms of this annual plague.
I spoke to several students at Harriton High School in Lower Merion Township who already had their college plans nailed down.
When I asked Andre Dixon of Ardmore, Pa., who plans on attending Montgomery County Community College or West Chester University, whether he had senioritis, he said, "The worst case. I just don't want to come to school, I don't want to work."
Jessica Steerman, who's already been accepted to George Washington University said, "I'm trying to fight the spring fever and the senioritis. I'm trying to get all my work done on time, but I just find myself going to Facebook, going on the internet and getting involved in other things, but I should be focusing on my work."
And David Hollander, who plans to attend Penn State next year, said, " I just want to have fun all the time and if something's not awesomely fun, I just don't want to be a part of it."
Harriton High School Counselor Joe Havlick says senioritis is common, once the college applications are in, and especially after post-high school plans are finalized. Kids' motivation to get good grades takes a big dip.
"As we progress more and more though the year, as more kids get admitted to schools, and I would say the motivation tails off," Havlick explains. "The kids who were very excited then begin to examine... how important is it to come to school every day and work your butt off to get into the school of your choice. Obviously, that (motivation) goes away."
He tries to help students maintain a balance.
"As a counselor, it's part of my job to honor a work-life balance and a lot of the kids do have distractions like prom, boys and girls, dating, the end-of-year stuff," he explains.
His suggestion for parents: try to keep kids focused -- if not on grades and classes -- then on things like current events that will stimulate their intellect. And while it's OK to let them relax a bit academically, don't let them allow their grades to slip too much.
"Not to scare a kid, but a supportive and very healthy thing for an adult, a parent, in that situation to do is to gently remind them on a regular basis that school right now is to prepare you for September , because September is going to come," he says.
And colleges can rescind acceptances if grades drop too much. On the other hand, parents need to understand that for Seniors, the question of who's going to the prom with whom really is of prime importance.
Havlick says, "I don't want to minimize the issue of who's in my limo, that's a critical issue, especially for a high-school senior. But there are other things to think about."
The bottom line, he says, is that it's OK for parents to let up on their seniors a bit, but it's important to keep them focused on the big picture and develop a love of learning, even if it's outside the classroom after high school's over.Read more Parenting Perspective blogs by visiting the Parenting Channel on 6abc.com.
amy buckman parenting reports, parenting, amy buckman
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