It is the end of May and senioritis is in full swing, plaguing a vast majority of high school seniors. With college acceptance letters and the revival of warm weather, it seems nearly impossible for one to lack senioritis. Senioritis is, in fact, alive, thriving, and real. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, senioritis is an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades. However, senioritis is not a dictionary definition used to diagnose laziness; brain science could potentially prove it as a part of teenage development.
Recent advances in science have identified patterns in the average human brain. This increase in knowledge and technology has made a way for us to understand how the brain impacts the amount motivation in our everyday lives. According to Live Science, researchers have found that the quantity of the neurotransmitter dopamine in three regions of the brain determine a person’s amount of motivation. The researchers found that dopamine impacts each region of the brain differently. An increase of dopamine in one region correlates with a strong work ethic while an increase in another area correlates with no work ethic at all.
A study done at Vanderbilt University discovered that the anterior insula region of the brain showed a strong negative correlation with dopamine level and willingness to work hard. Therefore these results suggest that our motivation is controlled by our brain’s chemistry. Depending on our dopamine levels, our brains may process rewards and risks differently, leading to an increased or decreased amount of motivation to do work. However according to Boston University, although senioritis could possibly be explained by a change in dopamine levels in the brain, more research must be done in order to support this conclusion. Over time, with more studies and research, I believe senioritis could one day be linked to teenage brain chemistry and development.
Scientists may one day understand a biological component behind senioritis, but researchers are certain there is a psychological component that plays a major role. According to Suzanne Rhinehardt, an Office of Counselling Services therapist, senioritis is rooted in a fear of change, and is used as a coping mechanism whenever school becomes too overwhelming. Rhinehardt argues that procrastination and disengaging are both methods of coping. While according to University of Texas psychology professor William Ickes, senioritis is similar to what happens when incarcerated prisoners’ release date comes near– many violate prison rules because they have mentally “checked out.” Students and prisoners are not synonymous, however the thought process between the two parallels when both approach a phase where there is no longer an outside reward perceived. Both Rhinehardt and Ickes make logical and solid points. Lack of motivation, senioritis, is easily psychologically proven in environments like school.
It seems almost impossible to escape senioritis, however, there are loads of tips and theories online on how to stay free from it. According to US News, senioritis can be prevented by taking care of yourself, staying organized, continually self-motivating, setting realistic goals, and visiting the career center. Yet these tips may not work for everyone as lack of motivation may be spelled out in our brain’s chemistry. Juniors get ready because senioritis is real and it is ready to prey on its next victims. It’s not a made-up illness– it may soon be discovered as a true biological component of the teenage brain. Stay safe out there.