Alternatives to battle senioritis second semester

Nina Schmidt

Free first, sixth, or seventh periods, and for those random students with a free second or fifth, seniors mosey along to school at 9:30 a.m., or head home to take a nap around 1:30pm. Whenever their free period(s) may be, seniors reflect on whether or not they earn the slow pace of second semester or if the time spent during school would better used involved in an internship or project.

Some find second semester a waste of time that could be spent doing something to kick start their areas of interest.

Josh Gilbert, who will attend the University of Oregon this fall, said “Second semester is a complete waste of time. Giving seniors time to work or intern would be a great solution.”

Others believe it is an earned privilege, relaxation after a tumultuous three and a half years.

“I think we’ve worked our asses off for the past four years, and we should use this time to experience what we didn’t get to when we were stuck inside studying. It’s unfortunate that colleges give us decisions so early and that this whole “senioritis” thing inevitably kicks in because that’s not fair to the teachers, said senior Skylar Silvera, who will attend the Global College at Long Island University next fall.

“But I think this is the perfect time to enjoy our friends, the last few days of Drake and this beautiful place we live in. It’s definitely the end of an era for all of us and in my opinion, we should live it up to its full potential.”

For teachers, seeing their student lose motivation and work ethic is frustrating.

“Changing senior year into a project or internship would be beneficial because we waste a lot of school time. I think a project would be productive. It is more choice based. We used to have Academy X which has a 10 week internship or project, and it would be great to do again,” English teacher Amity Hotchkiss said.

After students decide what their step will be following graduation, many lose motivation because the push for college is somewhat over.

“I don’t think seniors really waste time, I just feel the hours we spend in certain classes feels like a waste of time. Especially when kids know where they’re going or what they want to do. And I feel like there could be a way to substitute certain classes second semester for internships revolved around students aspirations,” said senior Dylan Cunniffe, who will attend Santa Barbara City College.

Teachers agree that students are on different paths which require a more flexible senior year to benefit everyone and to fill their time more effectively.

“Some seniors are in one boat and some are in another. For some seniors it’s really necessary to make up some credits that they lost or they still need to do one class like economics or government. I think we really need to rework senior year. We say that all the time, but who’s going to do it? Schools are such an entrenched system it’s so hard to change. If anyone would be able to it, we would be able to,” English teacher Mary Kitchens said.

Having the option–whether or not that be enrolled in traditional school or involved in an internship–is an imperative piece in solving senioritis and to fulfill senior year. 

Schools are such an entrenched system it’s so hard to change. If anyone would be able to it, we would be able to,” English teacher Mary Kitchens said.”

— Mary Kitchens

“I think that by our eighth semester of high school we’ve all worked so hard that it is an earned privilege to de-stress and enjoy our last few months. That being said, if it was an option for students with more free schedules to get an internship in a field they’re interested in I think that would be an awesome opportunity,” senior Ryan Finnane said.

However, there are an abundance of logistical complications that would make having a yearlong option besides traditional school be difficult to organize.

“A project or an internship would be hard with something like pre calc because there is a mix of juniors and seniors and the class is rigorous. As well, AP classes are intense until students get through tests. I like the idea of a project, especially if it involves giving back. It would be hard to manage, but I love the idea,” math teacher Judy King said.

There are opportunities for seniors to alter their senior year in a way that benefits them more which is a good start. Taking college courses focused on what they are interested in, being involved in flexible, part time internships, or enrolling in programs such as Pathways are possible here. Greg Davidson provides help to find summer and after school day internships which could be expanded to better shape senior year.

“I think we need to be a lot more flexible and let students create a senior year that works for them. I know Sheila Souder has worked with students to create internships. It’s not quite as flexible as it needs to be but already within our system there’s a lot of leeway. You can take classes at COM and in our district there’s a system called Pathways where you can choose your own pathway essentially. I think we’re going to see that school is going to become much more flexible than it is now,” Kitchens said.

Nearby high schools have programs in place to allow students to be involved in a project that interests them and their goals. Miramonte High School started the Wise Individual Senior Experience program in 2002. WISE involves seniors choosing it as their second semester English class but instead of class they work alongside a mentor to fulfill their interests while working towards a final presentation. Berkeley High School and 70 other high schools in the nation participate in this program.

Senior Allie Ross who will be attending San Diego State University in the fall, enjoyed taking Psychology in the fall of her senior year at College of Marin because it allowed her to explore a field of interest. She said that taking that course made her realize that having an internship or project during senior year would put her time to better use than losing motivation in generic classes in school.