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Is senioritis beginning to set in?

| April 18, 2010 9:00 PM

It seems as though about this time every year, graduating seniors are afflicted with a terrible condition known as senioritis. This condition is caused because kids see the next stage of life, whether higher education or beginning a work life. Either way, it's very difficult to focus on the last housekeeping tasks when the allure of the next stage of life calls.

Seniors will often have trouble finding the motivation to go to athletics practice, earn disciplinary action for poor choices, drop classes or just poor academic performance. As a parent, if you begin to notice these traits in your student start addressing the problem early. Start by encouraging your student to talk to their teachers and counselor for help, but if your student fails to respond quickly don't hesitate to step in.

There are a couple of serious consequences of senioritis, the first being a student may lose the university admission they won or they may not graduate without taking a summer course after the senior year. The other consequence can also have lasting impact; the student going to college or into the workforce academically unprepared. If a student hasn't been challenging themselves through their academic career, learning to read and write well, learning basic mathematics, and scientific principles then the senior year is often the last chance they have to do so. Many students entering university are required to take a remedial course or two because they "took off" their senior year and the numbers for students in community college is even higher.

Make sure your student learns to plan ahead and becomes proactive about getting school work done. This way, they

have time to adjust if procrastination or competing demands bite them. Another way to help your student is to have them focus on short-term goals such as getting the paper due that week done, or studying for the test on Friday and leave the long-term goals aside for the moment.

While counterintuitive, it may be helpful to provide more challenge for your senior, not less. Taking an AP or college class, part time work, or an internship in the field they are considering are all ways to keep them so busy they don't have time to consider goofing off. Overall, I maintain it is better to over challenge than under challenge, however, there is a balancing act here in making sure your student doesn't try to do so much they can't balance all of their demands.

It can be difficult for any of us to focus on the mundane tying up of loose ends, when exciting possibilities are just around the corner, but I encourage you to remember Edmund Spencer's words of wisdom, "And he that strives to touch the stars, oft stumbles at a straw." Help your senior keep reaching for the stars while avoiding the stumble.

Mark Altman is a speaker and leadership consultant with the Altman Leadership Center. He is an international speaker with two books and a DVD that can be purchased on Amazon.com. He can be reached at mark@leadright.net.

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