The art of getting by: A look into senioritis

The Art of Getting By, starring Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts, was released a few years back to little buzz and acclaim. The underrated film revolves around George, an introverted high school student who has a talent for the arts, but who seems to harbor a nihilistic view of the world. As such, George lacks motivation and refuses to get any schoolwork done. While the film was released back in 2011, its central theme is one of which every adolescent can relate to, and which still rings true to this very day.

Going through the motions of everyday life in a zoned out state, barely processing our surroundings, and just trying to get by each day with the same old, boring routine; we’ve all been there before. As depicted in the romantic dramedy of the same name, the art of getting by seems to be a common affliction amongst us millennials. A related concept is ‘senioritis’, defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance”.

We take a closer look at what exactly triggers senioritis, how students and professors react to it, and if there are any possible solutions to this detrimental state of mind.

the art of getting by

A student’s perspective

Kervin (V, AE-BSA) is on his final term in DLSU and describes senioritis as “that feeling of dragging yourself to school [because] you’re already nearing graduation”. He relates the feeling to un-motivation and procrastinating work, before admitting that it’s something he himself feels on his terminal year. Meanwhile, Anton (IV, MGT) also says he and his fellow batch mates feel senioritis whenever they realize how close they are to graduating.

But what are the factors behind it? Are these students simply lazy? Kervin defends that it’s a number of elements. “I think other factors such as [a student’s] complacency of passing the subject, [the feeling of] being burned out from all the years of studying, and the impatience to graduate–or to earn a living–also affects this,” he shares. However, he mentions that at the end of the day, no student should feel justified in succumbing to senioritis.

And not every student does. Ynna (IV, MKT) admits that that feeling of complacency may have been something she felt during her last few years in high school, but not here in the University. “Now, [senioritis is] definitely not something I feel because I can still fail anytime and delay my graduation,” she explains. “I don’t want be so complacent about being a senior just yet.”


The psychology behind senioritis

Ms. Maria Dinah Asiatico of the Psychology department begins by admitting that she had honestly not heard of the term ‘senioritis’ until she had been contacted about the interview–it is not an actual clinical disorder, and is thus, not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that most psychologists and psychiatrists refer to. “This is very new to me,” she laughs.

However, Asiatico still posits that there must be several reasons that students may end up feeling unmotivated as they near the end of their university life–she cites unreasonable professors as one such possible reason. However, she also mentions another concept that might be relatable to the phenomenon–that of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. “[Intrinsic motivation] is more of, ‘I’m motivated to do these things because it’s fulfilling on my part.’… [While] external motivation is, ‘I will be motivated to do this because my professor will give me a 4.0.’” Asiatico reasons that perhaps students lose their drive towards their later years because they are only being extrinsically motivated.

“The intrinsic one is more lasting,” she explains. “The extrinsic motivation [is like] a bribe… Mas flowery siya, mas madali kang mamo-motivate at first. But it [doesn’t last].” She furthers that it becomes the role of the professor to foster the intrinsic motivation within their students, although this often proves challenging. For her, the key lies in being considerate to students and meeting them halfway–but not enough to allow them to take advantage of a professor’s kindness.

So do professors anticipate senioritis in their students? And with that in mind, are they more lenient towards them, in consideration of their situation and status? Asiatico doesn’t believe they should be. “My rule of thumb is, if I did this to one student, I have to do this to all,” she shares, saying that she tries to be as considerate as possible, but holds all year levels and courses fairly.

Ynna and Anton seem to agree, and find that most professors do not pull any punches when dealing with graduating students. “Professors should not be lenient towards the seniors when it comes to [major] courses because they are necessary,” Ynna mentions. “In majors, they are strict no matter what,” Anton adds. Kervin, on the other hand, has found that it gets a little easier towards the end. “I think professors are slightly more lenient towards seniors only when the whole class is composed of seniors. The load of homework they give now [compared to] our non-terminal years is considerably less,” he shares. “What matters to me is [the professor’s] effectiveness in [teaching]. If they’re lenient towards the students, yet they are still effective professors, then I have no complaints.”


Breaking out of the slump

Every student has run into a wall at some point, and everyone knows what it feels like to be stuck in that unmotivated trance. But how do you break out of it? Kervin suggests that those who have stopped putting in the effort should stop and think about how their current actions could affect their future selves. “There would probably be a trade-off in working hard now and then working hard later on,” he shares. Meanwhile, Anton says that terminal students should always keep in mind that this is their last chance to make the most out of their college life, both academically and non-academically.

Asitatico is hesitant to give advice, saying that with every case, an unmotivated student has a different reason behind their lack of passion. However, she says that in general, students must first look within themselves to find out what they really want in life. They should commit to a definite timeframe for their goals and figure out how exactly to achieve them. “As long as your goals are unclear to you, no matter who [gives] you advice and no matter how good the advice may be, it won’t be effective,” she concludes.

Going through the motions, losing motivation, senioritis—the art of getting by has many names. Students and professors react to it in different ways, but one thing’s for sure—that feeling of getting stuck in an endless rut is something we can all relate to. So in the midst of the endless repetitive cycle that is university life, remember to give yourself a few commercial breaks of fun from time to time. And keep in mind that the future holds bigger and brighter things in store for you; the art of getting by is merely an insignificant phase. Once you get past it, you’ll look back and realize that it was merely a filler chapter in the story of your life.

Celestine Sevilla

By Celestine Sevilla

Wilhelm Tan

By Wilhelm Tan

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