As high school students approach their final year, they may experience a phenomenon known as "Senioritis". As described by educators, Senioritis is a decrease in motivation and productivity, often accompanied by procrastination, complacency, and negative risk-taking behaviours. While not a medical term, Senioritis is a widely recognized term used to describe a common set of observed behaviours. As Jessica Lahey notes, "Senioritis is a real phenomenon. It can be defined as a decline in motivation or performance that occurs among students in their final year of school, often due to a combination of burnout, boredom, and the belief that academic achievement no longer matters." Jackie Rhodes further adds, "Senioritis is a genuine phenomenon and a concern among educators." In this article, we explore how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help students combat Senioritis and offer ten CBT strategies to stay motivated during their final year of high school.

In CBT, we focus on identifying and changing negative thought patterns that may be contributing to Senioritis. Some common negative beliefs that can affect motivation include "I've had enough" "It doesn't matter anyway," "I'm too tired to do this," "I can't handle the pressure," and "It's too late to make a difference." We can work on replacing these negative beliefs with more positive and realistic ones, such as "I need to keep up with my studies so I exit Grade 12 with the best marks possible, "I can take small steps to make progress," "I can handle challenges with support," and "It's never too late to make a change."

Here are ten CBT strategies that we can use to combat Senioritis:

  • Identify negative thought patterns and challenge them with evidence and alternative perspectives.
  • Set realistic and achievable goals for the remaining year of high school.
  • Practice self-care and stress management techniques, such as exercise, muscle relaxation, and deep breathing.
  • Use positive affirmations to boost self-esteem and confidence.
  • Create a schedule and prioritize tasks to increase productivity.
  • Use visualization techniques to imagine future success and goals achieved.
  • Seek out support from friends, family, or a counsellor.
  • Use positive self-talk to encourage and motivate oneself.
  • Practice gratitude by focusing on positive aspects of life and school.
  • Break tasks into smaller, more manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

To help reframe negative situations into positive ones, we can use the following example situations:

Situation: "I didn't do well on a test, what’s the point."

Reframe: "I can learn from my mistakes and work to improve my performance in the future."

Situation: "I don't feel like doing homework tonight."

Reframe: "Even if I don't feel motivated right now, I know that completing this assignment can help me achieve my goals."

Situation: "I don't have any options and plans yet."

Reframe: "I can make time to explore my options and make a decision that is right for me."

Situation: "I don't feel like studying for my test."

Reframe: "Even if it's hard work, studying will help me succeed and achieve my goals."

Situation: "I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed."

Reframe: "I can use self-care techniques and reach out for support to manage my stress and overcome challenges."

Some common signs of Senioritis include a decline in academic performance, lack of interest in schoolwork, poor attendance, and decreased motivation to pursue extracurricular activities. If left unaddressed, Senioritis can impact on a student's academic and career future and prospects.

Fortunately, there are several things that students can do to combat Senioritis and stay motivated during their final year of high school. These include setting achievable goals, practicing good time management skills, seeking support from teachers or a school counselor, staying physically active, and maintaining a positive mindset. Additionally, students should focus on making the most of their final year of high school and enjoy the various opportunities that come with it, such as senior activities and events.

By being aware of the signs of Senioritis and using the right strategies, students can overcome this common phenomenon and finish their high school careers on a high note. As a school counselor, I encourage students to stay focused, set realistic goals, and seek support when needed. With hard work and dedication, students can achieve their academic goals and set themselves up for future success.

Senioritis can have a significant impact on a student's motivation and productivity during their final year of high school. However, by identifying negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive ones, setting realistic goals, practicing self-care, seeking support, and reframing negative situations into positive ones, students can stay motivated and overcome Senioritis. As a school counselor, I am here to offer support and guidance to students who may be struggling with Senioritis. Don't hesitate to reach out for help, whether it be through counselling sessions or other resources available to you. Remember, with the right mindset and strategies, you can overcome Senioritis and achieve your academic goals.


Lahey, J. (2014, May 16). Senioritis: A Tough-to-Shake Affliction. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/05/senioritis-a-tough-to-shake-affliction/371552/

Rhodes, J. (2017, May 1). Senioritis: How to Spot It and What to Do About It. U.S. News & World Report. https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/articles/2017-05-01/senioritis-how-to-spot-it-and-what-to-do-about-it

Lyle Gothmann

School Counsellor

Telephone: (07) 46872 627

Email: L.Gothmann@twgs.qld.edu.au

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