Senioritis is rarely fatal

February 5

At dinner the other night, one of my sons announced, “We had an all-senior class meeting today.”

When I asked what the topic of the meeting was, the response came:

“They told us not to screw up.”

Welcome to the season of senioritis. The last of the college applications have been submitted. Many kids have already been accepted to at least one school. And most important, those seventh-semester grades have been recorded and forwarded to colleges.

After 31 / 2 years of extracurricular activities, AP, IB and honors classes, and being lectured about the importance of having a well-rounded résuméfor college, the idea of slacking can seem appealing to kids — and horrifying to parents.

The topic of slacking in the final semester of senior year is making the rounds in my cohort these days.

●“I know someone whose daughter got their admission rescinded.”

●“Bill got his first B since freshman year; I hope that doesn’t hurt his chances.”

All the angst just goes to show that we moms — and dads — aren’t happy unless we have something to worry about.

Yes, some kids get senioritis in a bad way. And some schools send out “fear of God” letters to students, warning them that a severe drop in grades could cost them their acceptance, merit scholarships or other financial aid. It’s easy to find all sorts of warnings about “how to avoid senioritis” on the Web. Those warnings are filled with examples from college admissions officers recalling having to rescind admissions. Butthose tales are compelling because they are so rare.

Yes, students should keep studying through their final semester in high school because their first semester in college is just around the corner and some of that stuff being taught might actually prove useful in college.

But the voices telling kids that their acceptance letters are going to disappear in a puff of smoke are the same ones that have been warning them for years now that they might not get into college.

For the vast majority of these kids, the threat of having an acceptance rescinded is about as real as the dire prediction that they might not get accepted in the first place.

What could cost a student his admission? Going from straight A’s to D’s is a good way to put that acceptance in jeopardy. So is getting suspended or, egad, arrested.

And yes, those things happen. So it’s important for guidance counselors to admonish students. A reminder that every acceptance letter is conditional on actually graduating can’t hurt, either.

But today’s high school seniors have worked really hard to get where they are. I would hazard that my sons have worked far harder than I did at their age. They’re highly motivated. So, for many of these kids, senioritis will manifest itself not in dropping out of school but in taking a “mental health day.” Not in failing a class, but in failing to do the extra credit in AP Psychology.

They are seniors in the homestretch, brimming with the confidence that those college acceptance letters bring. Let’s applaud their success and let them enjoy their place on the top of the heap.

After all, in a few short months, they’ll be freshmen all over again.

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