By Aidan Stoddart
We are well into the second semester of the 2017-2018 school year, and as a senior accepted by and committed to a college I love, I have to admit that this is a weird time in my life. A really weird time.
In many ways, it is a really enjoyable period. The weather is starting to become enjoyable, so I can spend more time relaxing outside. Most of my classes are rapidly approaching the end of their curriculums in time for the period of review before AP exams; as a result, academic life has been pretty chill. I have been able to spend time preparing for my arrival at college in the fall, which allows me to dream and anticipate, happily and adventurously.
This semester has also proved to be the least extra-curricular-activity-heavy of my four years in high school. I have taken a break from my usual theatrical pursuits, and this has afforded me many opportunities. I can sleep more. I can hang out with my friends and go on dates with my girlfriend more. I also have more time to work on my songwriting and music production, a hobby that I adore but often must put on the backburner.
But a lot of this has come at a cost; my academic motivation is, to use a diplomatic term, lagging. I remember a conversation I had with some older friends last year, who were going through what I am currently experiencing. I remember telling them that I didn’t think I would get senioritis. I thought that even if I got into my college of choice and everything went as perfectly as I dreamed, I would still be able to motivate myself to work just as hard as I always have. Boy was I wrong! I did get into the college of my choice, and lo-and-behold I have some pretty horrendous senioritis.
Examples of this problem?
-I’m currently enrolled in AP Biology (it’s a really fascinating class; I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a higher-level science to add to your record) and as the year has progressed I have continued to turn in assignments later and later. I have also taken fewer detailed notes on the chapters from the textbook as the units have dragged on. Often I find myself putting off the reading until the morning of an assessment, skimming the chapter feverously, and then going to school to do my best.
-I find myself completing many of my AP physics assignments really late. Eesh.
-If you asked me to tell you the most insightful fact from my recent microeconomics reading, I’d probably have nothing to say. To be honest, I have done a truly awful job paying attention to that textbook lately.
-Ironically (but also probably appropriately) this article is for my journalism class, and despite technically being one of the editors-in-chief of The Hoofprint, it has taken me a ridiculously long time to produce this piece.
I’d like to say that I’ve slacked off to a point when it became clear that there would be serious consequences if I didn’t change my ways, but I haven’t actually had that revelation yet. Despite the fact that my academic life is rife with procrastination, it hasn’t really sunk me, and I don’t think it will. The truth is that my senioritis is not as bad as it gets for other seniors. And my teachers seem to know where I’m coming from, so they have patience with me. Plus, even if I get things together super late, I still get things together. So it all works out grade-wise.
I know this is a school newspaper, and it might be a bit subversive for me to say this, but the whole system of assigning and grading assignments in high school is really contrived anyway, and now that I’m getting ready to move on, I think I have been able to observe this system from the outside a bit. And to be honest with you, at this point in my life, it feels kind of pointless. Therefore, my motivation suffers.
Or, at least, my academic motivation suffers. My motivation to do other things has skyrocketed! Like I said, I’m working on my music more! I’m enjoying a more dynamic social life than I’ve ever had before! I’m spending time with my girlfriend! I’m making time for these things in a way that a more-academically stressed, junior-year Aidan would not have made time. I have realized/learned that no matter how much meaning I prescribe to performing perfectly on every single assignment, there isn’t any eternal meaning there. The most important meaning comes from my interactions with other people, from the relationships that I build and enjoy. It comes from pursuing my greatest dreams, like a degree in my favorite subject, religious studies, not from pursuing an A in an economics class that, despite a truly wonderful teacher, just doesn’t interest me very much.
This transitory period has helped me to realize this fact. And I think the point of all this rambling is this: If you’re an underclassman and you’re anything like me, you’re probably worried about the future. You’re worried about college, or trade-school, or work, or whatever awaits you. You’re worried about the professional validation you need to receive, through grades or certificates or accolades. You probably have a quiz or a test coming up that really scares you on some level. And that’s okay! That’s normal! But, please don’t forget that ultimately these things aren’t the sum of who you are. You aren’t a good person because of your performance in school. You’re a good and worthy person because of how you treat people, and a 98% in AP Biology alone won’t stop you from being a jerk.
Furthermore, if you’re anything like me and you don’t like to leave academic things incomplete, I’d actually suggest trying it sometime. Put off that project for a bit. Put off the homework for a bit. Go get ice cream with a friend. See a movie with a date. Be with someone you love. The schoolwork will work itself out. The real treasure that you should experience is the relationship with someone else. I wish I had realized that long before senioritis hit me during my last semester of high school. I think it would have made my previous school years a lot happier.
But that’s just me.