Lazy Mondays

Procrastinating intelligently is a valuable life-long skill

By Alison Howard

It seems to me that senioritis is starting to set in, that is, if it hasn’t completely invaded your soul already. I’m not actually a senior, but this is one of those contagious social diseases that’s pretty equal opportunity, and can affect anybody, regardless of senior status; seniors are just particularly susceptible, because they’re so old, like real senior citizens.

In case you haven’t encountered this before—all you former diligent high school students­—senioritis is an end-of-the-year malaise in which doing schoolwork, or work of any kind, becomes one’s lowest priority. This means that your class readings might be an even lower priority than watching new episodes of The Vampire Diaries online, even when you’re in public and doing so is very embarrassing. Some would call this hitting rock bottom, but rock bottom is actually when you prioritize watching re-runs of The Vampire Diaries online over doing actual work. I’m proud to say I haven’t reached this point yet.

Lots of people see senioritis—in actual seniors anyway—as an opportunity of sorts. It’s the last time they will be able to completely blow off life and play Super Smash Bros. Brawl instead. I would argue that this is an activity that you can perform almost seamlessly throughout your entire life (except for a short period in which your hypothetical children will be too young to handle the controllers, and thus too young to have their priorities in check and join in, forcing you to feed them instead). However, most people have a better grasp on reality than I do. In any case, the nostalgia college students have for simpler times—in which their biggest concerns consisted of beating their older sisters at Duck Hunt and figuring out how to add negative numbers—is understandable. If college, or really any time spent in school, is the American designated time frame for goofing off, then the end of a school year is destined for academic disaster.

This is especially true for graduating seniors, who are dealing with something much more serious than summer looming. After all, they have the Rest of Their Lives beginning after graduation, future video game–addict babies and all. I know it doesn’t help for me to rub this in, considering that my own graduation is relatively far-off. Even so, I’ll be in that place soon, and so will everybody else at this school. It’s pretty much how college works. We’re all worried about our futures. And for some reason, this worry seems to coincide with a lack of desire to work.

These two phenomena are not necessarily related. There are much less complicated explanations for senioritis. We’re in our third quarter of a long school year. All of our friends at different schools are out for the summer or finishing up with finals. Simply put, we’re tired. However, we’re going to be working for four quarters of a year out in that scary real world, and it’s going to suck. That is, unless we start now to enjoy the time we spend in a working environment. Senioritis isn’t just slacking off. It’s a way to keep yourself sane. While in an ideal world, everyone would have a job they thoroughly enjoy doing, this isn’t necessarily what happens after you graduate—especially when you’re just starting out. I know I shouldn’t advocate not doing your work, but I’m pretty confident that UChicagoans afflicted with senioritis still get their stuff done. It’s just not up to our characteristically impossible high standards. Sometimes you just can’t put all of yourself into tedious work, and in these cases, you need other outlets.

So, if you’re going to have senioritis, you might as well be productive about it. And by that I mean, prioritize your unproductive activities. Do the things that you’re afraid of losing as you get older. Hang out with your friends. Go to the beach. If you’re very brave, do a Lord of the Rings marathon with the director’s cut (I’m not that brave!). Basically, don’t waste time just to waste time.

To me, senioritis makes sense—to a point. While I don’t think this argument would work in the context of anywhere else but a liberal arts college, we luckily happen to be attending one. If your senioritis isn’t so far advanced that you’re simply not getting any of your work done, then you’re definitely going to survive. And you might even have some fun doing it.

—Alison Howard is a second-year in the College majoring in English.