5 Things Parents Must Know About “Senioritis”

And 4 Things Savvy Students Can Do About It

You’ve nursed your child through bouts of the flu and strep throat, but “senioritis” is different.

“Senioritis” symptoms include not doing homework, “forgetting” to study for tests, and getting oddly low grades on homework assignments, papers, and projects that your child would normally ace.


“I can just slack off and relax a little now,” your 12th grader reasons. “My college applications are all in, so nothing I do now will matter.”

Here are 5 truths every parent must know about “senioritis.”

1. Colleges look at all four years of high school grades.

Every college your child has applied to will require a final transcript that shows both first and second semester grades from every class taken in 12th grade. Why? Because the college needs to make certain that the student has actually graduated from high school. If senioritis leads to a streak of poor grades on the tail end of that transcript, that can derail every goal the student has been working for.

2. Colleges do rescind acceptances due to poor senior year grades.

Poor grades in 12th grade can lead a college to wonder, “Is this student actually ready for college level work — or not?” Take it from Dr. Kat Cohen whose company, IvyWise, advises elite college applicants: “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of rescinded acceptances every year. Just because a student got in doesn’t mean he or she is home free — colleges reserve the right to take it away if the student doesn’t live up to his or her academic responsibilities.”

3. Colleges may still accept your child, but with an added burden nobody wants.

Underperforming 12th graders can be placed on academic probation starting their very first day in college. This can seriously dampen a student’s excitement about college, since it’s no fun to hear, “If you don’t perform up to par this semester, you’ll be dismissed from the university. You are ineligible to play on sports teams. Your private scholarships and college merit aid are in jeopardy.” No parent wants their child to start college under that dark cloud.

(If your child is ever placed on academic probation — at any point — don’t miss this great article by Vicki Nelson of College Parent Central. It’s a huge help.)

4. High senior year grades will give a boost to the scholarship applications your child will be filling out during college.

Your daughter may have balked at filling out scholarship applications during high school — but that could change as she matures. Many college students use these principles to apply for 10 scholarships every year throughout both college and grad school. No question about it, strong high school grades will help your child rake in more scholarship money.

5. The sense of accomplishment that comes from getting consistently high grades actually feels good.

Sure your child could use a rest. Because that’s true, plan in extra opportunities for high-quality rest and relaxation during the senior year of high school. Just ask your kid to notice the risks of senioritis, and make sure that the homework gets done too.

If you’re a student battling senioritis, here’s help.

1. Think of yourself as an elite athlete, training for the Olympics.

Think of the rest of 12th grade as training for the academic Olympics you’ll face in college. Try some new, better study and time management strategies, and see how they work for you. Work hard to stretch the abilities you already have, so you’ll be primed and ready for what comes your way next year.

3. Start using a day-planner calendar. Enter in the times you will be reviewing your notes.

Using a calendar in college is highly correlated with high college grades. Start using one now. Commit that you will review class notes within 24 hours of taking them. No exceptions. Schedule in these review times on your calendar.

(To learn why productivity gurus like Michael Hyatt and me are recommending paper planners — not just digital calendars – watch this 3-minute video.)

2. Set small, manageable academic goals, and then keep a routine that moves you forward toward accomplishing them.

“Set smaller, more manageable goals throughout the semester,” Dr. Kat Cohen of IvyWise says. “Get a 90 or above on the next calculus exam.” “Finish my history report a week early so I can get feedback from my teacher.” “Set aside an hour every week to prep for AP or IB exams.” Small manageable goals, along with the steady drumbeat of scheduled routine, will a) relieve school-related stress and pressure and b) get you far, far down the road toward college success by spring.

4. Recognize your need to completely unplug and relax. Decide when you’ll do it. Block out rest time on your calendar.

Acknowledge that you’ve just been through a hard season, and that you’re in dire need of rest.

Take some time to put down your phone, ride your bike, sleep, read an actual book, spend face-to-face time with your friends and family, and focus on personal projects you’d love to work on but have had to put off.

The time you take to rest, reset, and recharge will head off senioritis, keep you steadily on track, and set you up for a great future.

Parents of high school seniors, have you filled out the FAFSA yet?

Make sure your kids get every penny they have coming to them. Download and print my list of common FAFSA mistakes here: 30+ Common FAFSA Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Then share it with your friends and your child’s high school guidance counselor.

Remember, keeping academic performance high is only a small part of the picture when it comes to getting your kid through college debt-free. 

For clear, step-by-step help with the whole process from beginning to end, get your copy of my book:

You can “Look Inside” the book on Amazon for free by going to:


(Tell your friends.)

You can see the “Top 9 Questions Parents Are Asking Me About LAUNCH,” here.

Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1-3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.

And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it – especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.

Do you have friends who are parenting 12th graders? SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn right now.

What about you? What strategies have you found for helping students stay firmly on track throughout the entire senior year of high school? Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.

Who is Jeannie Burlowski?

Jeannie is a full-time author, academic strategist, speaker, and podcast host. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report.

Jeannie also helps students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.