The Five Stages of SenioritisThe Five Stages of Senioritis
Everyone has had a case of Senioritis at one time or another. Everyone at the University of Wisconsin was once a senior in high school. I am currently in the middle of my final semester at UW, and I have a bad strain of Senioritis.
How do you know when you have developed a case? I have developed a five stage model that you can use to help determine if you or a loved one has Senioritis and identify to which stage the Senioritis has progressed. The stages are presented in the order that they usually present, but there are a few cases that deviate from the norm.
*adapted from the Five Stages of Grief described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D.
Denial: This stage occurs at the beginning of the student’s senior year. Anxious to get the year started off right, the student chooses not to admit that in the spring, it is likely that he or she will be donning the cap and gown that symbolizes the right of passage into the working world. Ultimately, clinical manifestations of this stage do not differ much from when the student was a junior. They just continue to go on with their business as a student because, after all, they will be here for a while longer.
Anger: This stage can be an absolute ear-sore for those closest to the student that is affected. It is during this stage that the student begins to ask the question, “What is all of this for?” Angry outbursts about classes that they felt were a waste of time are common, and the student is never in a good mood after coming home from class. They develop a carefree attitude about schoolwork, saying it just does not matter anymore. After all, C’s get degrees, right? Or was it B’s? In any case, arguing with a student in this stage is futile and will result in hurt feelings and/or bruises. This stage typically lasts until around the end of the student’s first semester of their senior year.
Bargaining: After surviving the first semester, the student begins to see that mid-May graduation date in the distance. It is during this stage that alternatives to graduating begin to manifest in many clinical cases. A few examples of these include but are not limited to: joining the Peace Corps, deciding on graduate school, or taking a few more classes to pursue that elusive second major, “the victory lap.” Other symptoms the student may display include long conversations with his or her parents convincing them of the logic of their decision and the student incessantly changing their mind about what they will be doing next year. Bargaining typically lasts until about mid-second semester.
Depression: This phase is extremely variable for many students. For some, realizing that they might not see their friends on a daily basis, party until the early hours of the morning consistently, and interact with willing co-eds weekly is as bad as it gets. Others do not have the luxury to worry about such petty things. Students that pay their way through college see the mountain of debt that they have built. Those that aren’t fortunate enough to have a plan for the fall are forced to search for jobs, many of them not quite as illustrious as they had once imagined. The question of moving on to new places or staying put arises. This stage is typically accompanied by nervousness and intermittent stomach butterflies and typically lasts only a few weeks.
Acceptance: This is the final stage where the student realizes graduating may actually be a good thing for them. People in the working world do not get paid to party, and not everyone is capable of pulling off a “Van Wilder.” Moving on to new things, meeting new people, exploring, and self-discovery await. The apprehension that was felt by the student turns from a negative to a positive feeling. The student realizes that it is all right to be nervous about the future. Breaking out of a routine can be a scary but exhilarating experience. Should this stage present clinically, tell the student to savor this moment. He or she will not likely experience this feeling again until retirement, if they are lucky enough to retire.
Rx: Enjoy the company of friends, do things spontaneously, and take lots of pictures. Memories can be as valuable as the experience itself.