Guest Commentary: As school year nears end, soon-to-be high school grads face the last hurdle — ‘senioritis’

Sophia Benito
(Provided by Sophia Benito)

Sophia Benito is a junior at La Jolla High School and an editor for the school newspaper, the Hi-Tide. She is writing a periodic column this school year about happenings at her school and what’s on the minds of herself and other local students.

As the end of the 2022-23 school year at La Jolla High School approaches, seniors await graduation in June. After almost four years of rigorous study and challenging classes, many have set plans for the future. Colleges have made their acceptance decisions, and seniors are ready to begin a new chapter of their lives.

But “senioritis” is an issue many face. It’s the lack of motivation for academic performance that high school students are said to experience toward the end of their senior year, characterized by falling grades and effort and a lack of incentive to complete assignments.

How serious it is largely depends on the individual; it may be a struggle or a minor issue. But for many students at La Jolla High, it is an obstacle to overcome.

With college decisions already final, seniors feel there is little to look forward to at this point of the year. Grades are important, but less so than previously. Several colleges request first- or second-semester transcripts even after acceptance, and seniors cannot have C’s or D’s if they hope to keep their spot at their chosen college for the following year.

La Jolla High teachers strive to motivate students in the final months of school by encouraging them to enjoy the senior experience and activities such as Grad Nite at Disneyland or the yearly senior prank.

Griffin Sanford, who will attend Vassar College in the fall to study international relations, said: “Senioritis is not really an issue for me or any of my friends. Yes, we don’t have as much motivation because there isn’t much to look forward to, but we still get everything done and get good grades.”

Once admitted to a college, there is no longer pressure to maintain a perfect GPA, but seniors often focus on maintaining their grades to align with the acceptance requirements of their chosen college.

And although high school is ending, there is much to look forward to in coming months. The fall college term will begin in late August or early September.

La Jolla High School seniors Isabella Millard (left) and Sarah Tuszynski will attend UC Santa Barbara and UCLA, respectively.
(Photos provided by Sophia Benito)

Isabella Millard, who will attend UC Santa Barbara for pre-biology, said: “I am looking forward to choosing from a more diverse range of courses, making new friends and exploring subjects that I haven’t yet considered. I am also ready for a personal reset and the opportunity to gain a more appreciative perspective toward education.”

She also noted the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on this year’s graduating class and the obstacles she and other seniors have had to overcome.

“I am part of a wave of students that survived secondary virtual learning and is currently coping with its consequences,” she said. “Despite the obstacles, I am proud of my perseverance and hope I have set a positive example for my younger sibling, whose educational path was more seriously impacted by the pandemic.”

Isabella looks forward to a quiet, stress-free month as her senior year comes to an end.

As seniors look ahead, they also can reflect on their accomplishments at La Jolla High.

Sarah Tuszynski, who will attend UCLA for psychology, said, “I’ve been in ASB [Associated Student Body] for four years and raised money for my class, founded the Jewish Student Union, been the president of Key Club, been a member of speech and debate for four years, two of which were in elected positions, and raised $1,500 for speech and debate.”

Juniors, who will be seniors for the 2023-24 school year, generally anticipate senioritis. Junior year is widely considered the most challenging, with demanding coursework and advanced classes in preparation for college admissions in the coming year.

Soren Martin, a La Jolla High junior, said: “After this rough year, I think my ‘senioritis’ has already started. I took more APs [Advanced Placement classes] than I should have and it definitely took a toll.”

Sophia Benito lives in the Muirlands West area of La Jolla. Her family has lived in La Jolla since the 1950s. Sophia is interested in journalism as her future profession and occasionally writes for online teen publications.