The Science Behind Senioritis
We’ve all heard of Senioritis – “a general apathy towards school work that is developed after years of schooling at an institution” (McMullen). However, is this an actual biological phenomenon? Or is it simply an excuse for lazy students to not work hard anymore? The answer may be a bit of both. Although there are ways to overcome Senioritis, research suggests that levels of dopamine in the brain can be linked to whether a person is a slacker or a go-getter.
According to a study put forth by Vanderbilt University, high levels of dopamine in many regions of the brain are associated with a high work ethic. However, there is a strong negative correlation between dopamine levels and work ethic in the anterior insula. The results of this study showed that hardworking people have high levels of dopamine in the two parts of the brain most known for their role in reward and motivation, and low dopamine levels in the anterior insula, which is linked to motivation and risk perception. Therefore, these results may mean that the choice between being a slacker or a go-getter is actually dependent on how the brain weighs risks and rewards. Perhaps then Senioritis could actually be explained by a change in dopamine levels in the three noted regions of the brain. Unfortunately, more research would be needed in order to support this conclusion.
Meanwhile, how do we, exhausted seniors who are ready to move on with our lives, push past Senioritis in order to perform to the best of our ability and enjoy what’s left of this last semester of our college careers? Here are 5 ideas that you may find helpful:
1) Challenge yourself to try something new every week. Whether they be on campus or in the community, chances are there are many events going on every week that you don’t even know about. Take the time to search for something new to do, and then challenge yourself to go with an open mind. Not only would that push you out of your comfort zone and possibly even get you out of your funk, but you could also discover a new passion or hobby.
2) Do something physical. Often times, feeling apathetic can make us feel physically tired. Not only will exercising improve your health, but it can also help you de-stress and increase your energy.
3) Mentor an underclassman. By the time you are a senior, you (hopefully) have quite a bit of it all figured out. You’ve learned what it takes to succeed and what to strive towards. Share this knowledge with others who may be struggling to figure it out on their own. Not only will this help them, but it will also help you reflect on how far you’ve come and, hopefully, will allow you to regain some perspective.
4) Start early. I know – procrastination and senior year seem to go together like a lock and a key. However, procrastination can be the difference between graduating and spending an extra semester in college because you failed a class. It’s not worth it! Plus – and I know I’m about to sound like your mother here – the sooner you finish your work, the sooner you can go out with friends and enjoy the rest of your college time together.
5) Stay organized. Know your goals and create a strategy to achieve them. Create a calendar with all of your classes, volunteering, work, office hours, exams, and homework due dates, along with anything else you need to remember. Set reminders on your phone or write yourself notes and tape them all over your room (Yes Mom, I did learn eventually) – whatever works for you. Make sure to check your schedule for the next day the night before to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything.
Most importantly though, enjoy your senior year! We are about to undergo a major life change that not everybody has the privilege of having. Try to appreciate what you have and take advantage of every opportunity you can. Work hard, make memories, and follow this link for a countdown to BU’s commencement ceremony!
Good luck Seniors! We’re almost there!
~ Alexa Aaronson