A photograph of the back of a person sitting on a wooden ledge overlooking the water and mountains of BC.
January 27, 2022
4 mins read

How to take advantage of your senioritis

It's finally here—the last semester of your undergraduate degree at UBC. You're probably feeling a mix of emotions, and some of them might be the inevitable symptoms of...senioritis.

Sometimes, it's when you're just about to see the finish line that you get the feeling your legs are close to giving out. For many of us, the same applies for our last year—and especially our last semester.

A student sitting on a yellow bench on campus, writing in a notebook.

That makes it especially important to recognize the signs of senioritis, find that extra push, and take control of these last few months.

What is senioritis?

Senioritis is a significant decline in your motivation towards the end of your senior year. You may have Googled senioritis before, heard about it from an older classmate, or even been warned about it by a friendly teacher. You may be feeling this way for a variety of reasons—whether it's a lack of pressure to keep your grades up, burnout from keeping them up so far, or too much excitement for what comes next after graduation. 

How do I know this? Honestly, I'm dealing with senioritis right now, from a mix of all of the possibilities above!

Why is it important?

Like me, you may have reached a mental block already this year. Maybe you're having trouble getting your assignments done because nothing is lighting that spark of academic motivation you usually have. You may have heard the myth that working harder should alleviate your mental block. However, that mental block can seem like a 10-foot tall wall with no grip to help you climb it—and even more so when you have high expectations of yourself. The feelings of demotivation or indifference that come as a result can have a snowball effect, and after a few weeks, you may find you dug yourself deeper than you thought. 

Other articles you might find on senioritis will tell you to remember your goals and push through: to imagine the finish line and persevere. While these are still solid recommendations, this language might just not be enough to motivate you—I can't say that it's always motivated me!

It's beneficial to recognize feelings of senioritis early on. For me, a few too many nights of rewatching Harry Potter movies instead of doing my history readings (and finding myself unusually apathetic) was when the lightbulb went off that I might have senioritis. After a few weeks of reflection, I've come up with (maybe unconventional) tips and tricks I want to share.

Advice for managing your senioritis

Sometimes, you have to take a step back rather than forward, and Marie Kondo your thoughts and actions, to actually regain your motivation.

1. Cultivate your overall motivation

I noticed a big change in my attitude and motivation when I focused on becoming generally motivated rather than simply academically motivated on a day-to-day basis. It's important to get motivated for the small things as well—that way, motivation can become a mindset, and not just a feeling.

You should do things that "spark joy". For example, I've recently taken up learning how to play soccer. Some context for you: I have exercise-induced asthma and the athletic ability of a snail—I even once got a concussion while sitting on the sidelines of a volleyball game! However, that hasn't stopped me from trying. I've noticed that I bring the energy from the motivation I've been cultivating for soccer back to my academics—bringing some of the joy back into studying.

2. Take breaks

No matter how many years you've taken to get here, the second semester of the winter term may feel more stressful than the first one—especially when senioritis sneaks in too.

A photograph of the Seawall. On the lefthand side there is a gravel trail with two bikers, with the sea on the righthand side.

Remember, if you're feeling senioritis, you're feeling it for a reason. Don't be afraid to take more breaks than usual. Use those breaks to have fun, get outside, or enjoy a hobby to take your mind off your courses.

These breaks can give you the opportunity to cross more items off your undergraduate bucket list. The joy you're creating through these breaks can help increase your motivation to get the ball rolling with your courses. I've been using my breaks to explore my neighbourhood through walks with friends and to cozy up on my couch with books I've been meaning to read for way too long.

3. Make and break habits

The habits you have now might not be beneficial in the future—ignoring responsibilities is not healthy in the long term. While the demotivation that comes along with senioritis might not be common for you, it can easily become a cycle.

A new habit I've been trying to implement, suggested to me by a friend also facing senioritis, is journaling for at least 10 minutes a day—5 minutes in the morning before the busyness begins, and 5 minutes before I'm off to bed. For me, journaling has helped me understand how to use the tools I already have to manage my senioritis.

A photograph of a student sitting on a ledge in the Rose Garden at UBC, journalling.
4. Seek support

Make sure you check in on your mental health, and talk to someone if you're feeling unsure. It's important to get the proper support if it's more than the usual feelings that accompany an impending graduation—because senioritis isn't always just senioritis. UBC has many avenues of support, including Counselling Services, peer resources, and self-help tools!

Just remember—you've got this! You don't need to get overwhelmed by a sea of tips on how to combat senioritis. Sometimes reflection is the way to figure out which direction is best for you.