Does being a second-semester senior live up to the hype?

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Does being a second-semester senior live up to the hype?

Sophie Friedberg, Staff Writer

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With stressors like college apps, job hunting and career planning, first semester senior year has been pegged one of the toughest times in high school. Because of this, the much-anticipated title of being a second-semester senior is welcomed with open arms every year.

When the bell rings in December after the sixth-period final and the marching band begins to play, a sigh of relief can be heard from every senior on campus. Their first semester is behind them. While, yes, most are still stressed over their pending college acceptance letters, they gain a small ounce of tranquility as they accept the title of second-semester senior.

The real fun begins on that greatly awaited January day when most applications are submitted, and a high school senior is content to sit back and wait (and maybe pray a little for their reach schools). But is being a second-semester senior really all that great?

Certainly people start to slack off more. ‘Senioritis’ creeps up on them. It shows itself slowly, not jumping in all at once. Imagine you’re a senior. Maybe your AP Lit teacher assigned you a book to read over the break. You started it (a valiant effort already), but are you really going to finish it? You’ll try. You’ll get through half… or at least the first few chapters.

Maybe your Honors Marine Bio teacher told you to review your notes so you don’t forget the material over the break. Are you going to review? You’ll skim them later. (You’ll look at the bold print.)

Maybe your AP Calc teacher gave you some worksheets to fill out for the next unit. Are you going to complete them? Nope.

It’s an understandable reaction. There’s a devil and an angel on your shoulders. The part of you that has worked so hard all of high school is saying, ‘Come on, just finish the book,’ or ‘Just look over your notes.’ But the second-semester senior part of you is saying ‘Give yourself a break! You worked hard this past semester. You deserve some relaxation.’

Some fall prey to this mentality and fully give in to their senioritis.

“Last night, I had homework due at midnight,” senior Ezra Schoeplein said. “I spent a good two hours just staring at it, wondering if I had to do it or not because I’m a second-semester senior.”

Second-semester seniors’ long-standing lore almost reinforces their behavior. “It’s so much easier to procrastinate when you’re expected to procrastinate,” Schoeplein explained.

Often times, it’s natural for seniors to feel less motivated in their classes once their college apps are submitted. Schoeplein explains that he is “100 percent less motivated [in class]… As for my grades, I can’t let them all tank, but my grades don’t have to stay as high this semester.”

Schoeplein has worked incredibly hard all four years of high school: He took multiple APs each year, played for the Pali soccer team and took part in school plays, all while staying on the principal’s honor roll from freshman to senior year. Because of burnout from years of hard work, and the knowledge that second-semester grades hold less significance, many seniors following Schoeplein’s rigorous schedule succumb to the same senioritis.

With the lower effort exerted by many second-semester seniors, and the laid-back attitude that comes with it, many underclassmen believe that second-semester senior year will be the time of their lives. So, does being a second-semester senior really live up to the hype?

“It’s overrated,” Schoeplein said.

“It doesn’t live up to the hype… I’m very bored. I’ve watched everything possible on YouTube… I don’t know what to do with my life anymore,” he said.

When seniors get to this sacred time in their high school career, they may not know what to do with themselves. Time that used to be taken up by intense academic efforts is now open, and they may find that they missed having the responsibility of something that they needed to do with their time.

Senior Laura Binder, however, explains that she doesn’t feel bored at all and “it’s nice to have more free time.”

If you’re a student who wants to spend more time with friends or family, has a hobby they’ve been neglecting because schoolwork took up all your energy, or simply just needs some time to sleep then second-semester senior year can be the perfect time for you.

Another thing that all seniors have to think about, whether they’re spending their second-semester bored or living it up, is how teachers will react to this newfound low academic energy.

Most teachers understand that seniors are inclined to slack off during their second semester, and all teachers approach the issue differently. Schoeplein explains that “Mr. Berger [said], ‘I know some of your grades are going to drop, so if you’re OK with that, I’m OK with that.’”

Conversely, Binder said that “most of my teachers gave us a speech about how second-semester senior year matters and we need to keep working hard all the way through June.”

On his side of the fight against senioritis, Mr. Schalek, Pali’s beloved physics teacher, is known for his ‘senoritis contract,’ which all his senior students and their parents are required to sign.

According to Schoeplein, the contract states plain and simple: “We won’t slack off.”

Even for a dedicated a senior, however, slacking off at least a little bit second semester is usually inevitable. Whether this is enjoyable depends on the student.

Maybe you’ll relate to Schoeplein, who believes being a second-semester senior isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You’re fighting to convince yourself to try hard for the teachers who still expect so much of you, and when you do have free time, you’re at a loss for things to do.

Or maybe you’ll side with Binder, believing it lives up to the hype. “Life is easier,” Binder said. With the stress of college applications behind you, and a good amount of sympathetic teachers, it’s the consolation prize you’ve been working toward for the past four years.

No matter how you feel about second-semester senior year, making it there is a great achievement. It marks the end of the daunting college question mark inside your mind — the one that starts the minute you take the PSAT in 10th grade and only goes away once you’ve committed to a school.

For lack of a better analogy, it’s really the beginning of the end.

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