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updated: 8/19/2013 6:52 PM

How to avoid the sting of senioritis

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By Peter Timotijevic

High school is the springboard for college and as students inch closer to the end, college shifts into view.

For returning seniors, this is their last year where they will ultimately pick the college they want to attend after they graduate high school. But for some, being accepted to the college of their choice is enough for them to start slacking off late in the year.

Amanda Laesch, admissions counselor for North Central College in Naperville, reminds seniors to keep their grades in check.

"All colleges still require final transcripts. ... Final term is the least likely time a colleges will look at grades, but that isn't a time to relax," she said.

That means that if grades have dropped to below par university standards admission can be revoked in extreme cases. While a revocation of admission is rare, scholarships that were once available may become unavailable if the university learns of any slip in academic performance, she said.

Laesch stressed the importance of maintaining the grades not only for high school but beyond as well.

"Students need to realize that their actions can close doors or make some doors more difficult to open," she said.

Once a student finds out where they have been accepted and have made their decision, the temptation to slack off becomes much more prevalent making this the most common time for senioritis to set in. Recent Rolling Meadows High School graduate Brittney Frazier found out before second semester what school she would be going to.

"I could feel it with homework or trying to study for tests," she said. Frazier also speculated that senioritis may set in as early as junior year depending on the student. "Once they're a senior, it's a rite of passage like, 'Hey, I'm done.'"

Parents have a role in keeping their child's senioritis in check. Social worker Tom Pacione of Park Ridge Therapy advises parents to communicate with their children to spot early signs of slacking off.

He said that parents should tolerate some slips but make sure it isn't harmful and the student isn't getting into more serious trouble. Listen for any concerns from teachers and take note if the student's behavior changes dramatically, such as not being as willing to talk or a sudden lack of motivation for their schoolwork.

Frazier and Laesch recommend that seniors pick classes that they find enjoyable to balance out more stressful classes like Advanced Placement courses, which allows students to earn college credit based on test scores.

"I've learned how important AP classes are now that I've gotten to college because those classes that I would have had to take are open for other things," Frazier said.

Another recent graduate, Brandon Kobus, took a more relaxed approach to his final year.

"Based on what I've done for the past three years, they have already accepted me so yeah, I let up a little bit." Kobus decided to focus on making sure it would be easy to go from high school to college.

"The last few months, I started preparing for college, making sure the money was there so it would be a smooth transition," he said.

As far as senioritis goes, Kobus was on top of it.

"I was proactive about it so it never really came to the point that I was failing classes."

Frazier and Kobus agree on the importance of maintaining grades. "You would hate to see your GPA fall in the last semester," Frazier said. Kobus said, "Make sure you keep your grades where they've been for the past three years of high school."

Joan Bell, guidance counselor at Barrington High School, drove the point home by saying, "There is nothing wrong with hard work as long as there's balance."

There is no best way to deal with senioritis -- students need to find internal motivation to finish strong. If your student is losing focus, he or she needs to find a way of refocusing.

If the grip of senioritis is starting to befall your student, talk to them, help them find motivation and -- in the words of Dory, Ellen DeGeneres' character in "Finding Nemo" -- "Just keep swimming."

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