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Senioritis causes distractions, challenges for UWRF students

December 13, 2007

No matter the form it takes, senioritis can make getting through the last year of college a challenge.

Tim Pearson, a biology major, will graduate from UW-River Falls in May 2008. In the meantime, Pearson struggles against a lack of motivation as he tries to complete his coursework.

“I’m looking forward to graduation a little too much,” Pearson said.

Conservation major Nick Myers is also in a position to graduate next May. Myers said he frequently deals with “a feeling of wanting to get out of here as soon as possible.”

His work may have suffered because of his restlessness, Myers said.

Broadfield Social Studies Professor Kurt Leichtle encounters students experiencing senioritis each semester.

“Basically, the last semester, it’s just a let down,” Leichtle said. “They will often get behind, and they will be frustrated.”

After turning in a few assignments that get low marks, students usually realize they need to work harder to bring up their grade and change their study habits accordingly, Leichtle said.

A lot of the seniors Leichtle teaches student teach in area schools. These students tend to focus their attention on successfully getting through their first teaching experience, which makes them less likely to succumb to the lack of motivation associated with senioritis, Leichtle said.

Leichtle said that he realizes how hard it can be for the rest of his students to stay motivated through their last semester, and he sympathizes with these students — to a point.

“Take a deep breath. Suck it up. Do the work,” Leichtle said. “You’re going to be out of here soon.”

Students seeking counseling for senioritis typically come in with some symptoms associated with depression or anxiety.

“They might have difficulty sleeping or concentrating,” Gretchen Link, UWRF’s lead personal counselor, said. “It might affect their appetite or their energy level.”

Most significantly, seniors seeking counseling frequently lack confidence in their abilities, Link said.

Students Link sees who lack confidence tend to have trouble with decision-making and may worry about their ability to succeed after they graduate. Grades may be negatively impacted if their indecisiveness affects their test-taking abilities, Link said.

“I think part of the goal in talking with students with senioritis is to reassure them that the feelings, the thoughts, the issues are normal,” Link said.

Counselors typically ask students with senioritis about job experience, internships and campus involvement to help them gauge their level of preparedness for their future career. In most cases, students discover that they are better prepared for the future than they thought, Link said.

Counselors also help seniors learn stress management skills and develop a positive internal dialogue.

“In a way, it’s kind of like teaching them to trust and believe in themselves,” Link said. “It’s like Indiana Jones and a leap of faith.”

Job-hunting presents its own challenges for seniors.

Sometimes students struggle to decide on a specific career within their major, or they may decide they want to do something unrelated to their major, Link said.

Either way, Link stresses the importance of having a network of family and friends for support as students begin looking for a job.

“Job hunting is difficult because your self worth, self-esteem, is on the line,” Link said.

For help with concerns, students can meet with someone at Career Services by calling 425-3572. Students struggling with senioritis or stress related to the job hunting process can call 425-3884 to set up an appointment to speak with a counselor.