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The Senior Slide Is Real, & Here’s What You Need To Know About It

It’s Monday morning. Class starts in 10 minutes, but you refuse to leave your bed. The thought of having to go anywhere, let alone do any work, makes you want to shove your face into your pillow, scream, and go back to sleep. Getting up requires energy that you don’t have. Every minute of the day, you feel drained, cranky, and like you’re on the verge of either bankruptcy or a breakdown — or maybe both at the same time. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, then you’ve likely caught a case of the senior slide. 

Not a lot of people understand what the senior slide entails. People that aren’t seniors — mainly professors — might be quick to dismiss the senior slide as laziness. Others might jump to the conclusion that you’re slacking because you just don’t care anymore. Sure, you might feel lazier or less present than you have in the past, but those feelings didn’t appear out of nowhere. What some professors and underclassmen don’t seem to get is that seniors are justified in their exhaustion. You’ve worked hard for four years, and when you take high school into consideration, even longer. Between job searches and apartment hunting, it’s completely understandable why school might not be your top priority right now. Before you can get out of your senior year funk, let’s get down to the root of the problem.

What Is The Senior Slide?

The senior slide is elusive. Your experience with it might be totally different from your friend’s, or your roommate’s, or anyone else who’s dragging themselves through these last few weeks of classes. You might not even slide at all, if you’re lucky. To provide a general overview, the senior slide is equivalent to burnout

Years and years of sitting through three-hour long lectures, sending resumes out to employers, and pulling all-nighters at the library are finally starting to catch up to you. You crave inactivity — a period of time where the work just stops. Instead of getting a break, your workload increases, as does the number of tasks you have to complete toward your post-grad plans. When will the terror end?! 

Eventually, it will. I have no doubt that your graduation will run smoothly and you’ll get the future you’ve fought for. In these trying times, I know how hard it is to maintain a positive outlook on life. I know how hard it is to resist the urge to skip all your classes, too. Trust me, you and I are in the same boat. But just think: When you graduate, you’ll be free from all the stress that college imposed. That isn’t to say that you’ll be free from all stress — still, it’s something.

What Can Trigger The Senior Slide?

I might’ve touched on this before, but anything can prompt you to slide. You could feel drained from having to meet deadlines for homework and papers. Or, you could feel like you’re spending too much time studying and not enough time applying for jobs. Whatever overwhelms or overtaxes you is likely an instigator. 

According to Clare Rossini, poet and Artist-In-Residence at Trinity College, senior slide can also occur when you feel ready — or hesitant — to move on from academia. “Remember that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy suddenly sees the grand city of Oz in the distance?” she tells Her Campus. “That sense of a dazzling world, beyond the known and comforting world of a campus, can be exhilarating and anxiety-provoking. Every college senior I’ve known has this Oz moment, and not surprisingly, it can make them feel that classes are not so important anymore.”

How Do I Deal With The Senior Slide?

Once you start sliding, it may be difficult to try to get yourself back on your feet. Even though getting out of your senior slide might be a challenge, it isn’t impossible. First, it’s important to identify what’s making you slide. Consider all different aspects of your day: where you spend most of your time, how much time you allot to self-care, etc. If you discover that you dedicate a lot of your time to something that might contribute to burnout, draft a new schedule that balances work with pleasure.

I usually reserve a few hours in the morning and at night to do whatever brings me joy. That way, I can start and end my days on a positive note. Listening to podcasts, completing crossword puzzles, reading, and journaling are a few ways you can show yourself compassion. Though these might only be temporary distractions to your stress, they’ll certainly help to revitalize you. Of course, you should also seek out professional help if you feel too overwhelmed. 

“First, be kind to yourself,” Professor Rossini says. “A big transition is looming; allow yourself to feel all the anxiety and joy that knowledge brings. Then, remind yourself that anything worth doing, is worth doing well. Believe me, in a few months or years, you’ll be glad you squeezed every last bit of learning and wisdom out of your classes and professors. Some of you will go on to more academic work; many of you will not.”

What’s most important, and what Professor Rossini later adds, is to take advantage of the time you have left at school. “You’ll never be twentysomething again, when your brain and heart are porous enough to take everything in,” she says. “Get back to work! And enjoy.” With all the chaos that senior year brings, it’s very easy to forget to relax.

How Do I Get My Professors To Understand The Senior Slide?

Some professors might have an easier time empathizing with you, while others might not. Ideally, all professors would just understand that senior year is difficult, but that isn’t always the reality. To help them gauge where you’re at in life, it’s totally appropriate to have a conversation with them and explain what your current situation is. To maintain a good rapport, you can also stop by their office hours. I’m sure they’ll appreciate you taking the time to show that you want to succeed. 

Who knows? Talking to your professor could help you out in the long run. If you’re still struggling to find a job, they might have connections or life-changing career advice. They might even offer you a job, if you’re lucky. You won’t know unless you take the initiative to start a conversation.

Jill Schuck

Trinity '23

Jill Schuck is currently a senior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. There, she majors in creative writing and minors in rhetoric and media studies, with hopes of working in publishing. Aside from reading and writing, Jill enjoys traveling, practicing self-care, and spending too much money on matcha.