Mother Nature is such a tease.
Two weeks ago, she gave us the sweet taste of spring, and we can’t seem to get it out of our heads. The sun was shining, the snow was melting and the temperature topped 50 degrees. The reactions were exactly what you’d expect from typical Minnesotan college students: wearing shorts and sweatshirts, sitting out on our houses’ rooftops and enjoying early evening happy hours. I think every car I saw driving down Cleveland had its windows down, passengers enjoying some real fresh air for the first time in months.
The sprinkling of snowflakes just a few days later can’t hold us down—we’re in the spring mindset, meaning we are more than ready for summer break. For some of us, summer break now means “the real world,” because the end of this school year brings graduation. For this group of students, that means we’re not just stuck in the spring slump—we’re on the senior slide. It’s like taking the spring slump to a whole new level of distraction.
I was in the library last week, and I heard the young woman behind me suddenly freak out when she realized she had a five-page paper due at midnight. That was at 10:15 p.m. Not surprisingly, this woman was a senior, and her “freak out” didn’t last long because she didn’t actually care. She got it together and quickly whipped out what she claimed to be “the worst paper ever,” but it was better than nothing. While there are certainly exceptions, this woman is the norm: stuck in the senior slide.
For those of us seniors who aren’t pursuing graduate school or any further education, our GPAs are pretty useless after college. It’s also pretty worthless for those of us who currently sit at a GPA under 3.5 because we most likely won’t brag about anything less than that on our resumes. For many of us, as long as we don’t fail any classes, one final semester of average (or below average) grades on our transcript won’t affect our futures.
We know it, our parents know it and our professors know it.
It’s a huge demotivator. We all struggle with those mornings when you’re awake, still laying in bed and knowing you should get your butt up and head to class, but we can’t seem to care. Or take night classes, for example. They’re only once a week, and they’re so long that you really don’t consider skipping them unless it’s absolutely necessary. There are past semesters when I’ve had them and made it to every single class. This semester, I knew I had one skip available that wouldn’t affect my grade, and I took full advantage. I looked at the schedule, picked which class looked least interesting and decided to skip it even though I had literally nothing else going on.
I wish I could say I spent my skipped class doing something fun, like going out with my friends. Unfortunately I actually spent those four hours at the library working on homework for other classes. I just had to assure myself that I took advantage of that skip because the option was there. Lazy, lazy, lazy.
It’s not just the seniors struggling to focus and stay on task right now; it’s everyone. After such a miserable winter, this transformation into spring (although definitely premature) has just hit us, and people are acting like summer break is in a week.
But what can you do?
Underclassmen don’t really have a choice but to try to buckle back down and finish out the semester. It’s not exactly a freebie—slacking off too early in your college career can and will affect your transcripts and GPA. It’s hard, but everyone has to go through it for his or her first three spring semesters of college.
As for the rest of us? The seniors?
The senior slide is practically inevitable, and there’s not much you can do about it, so embrace it. If you’re still working your butt off and kicking butt this semester, you’re a rock star. You keep doing you. As for the rest of us, consider what you’re doing with your final semester. Obviously don’t be an idiot. If attendance seriously affects your final grade in a class, don’t skip it. Turn in your assignments, even if they’re half-assed.
But in my opinion, if you’re going to screw around, you might as well screw around and enjoy it. Don’t feel bad about being stuck in the senior slide. If you’re going to feel guilty about it, you won’t enjoy it, so you might as well hop back on the horse and get back to work. It’s our last semester of school, and we should all spend it however we want.
Personally, I’ll put my effort into the classes I actually enjoy and probably do my best to slide by on the bare minimum in the others. See you at happy hour, seniors.
Anne Gaslin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.