The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Cate’s Call

Second Semester Seniorhood: Senioritis… um, what?
Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

Yes, you heard it right: it’s second semester. To say the least, I am grateful to have the dreaded months of October, November, and December behind me. 

At 6:00 pm on the night of December 14, along with two of my closest friends and several of my other classmates, I found out the next destination of my academic journey, the place where I am going to spend the next four years. Nothing beats the memory of seeing the hysterical faces of my two friends over the phone and realizing that everything we had each worked for over the last four or more years had been worth it — we were three of the few whose dreams came true. We had anticipated this moment for so long (seriously, what they don’t tell you is that waiting is nearly the worst part). The relief was indescribable.

With college acceptance in the rearview, I am in the very fortunate position of having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders this semester. Even though grades generally don’t count across the board, I know from experience how stressful and consuming the uncertainty surrounding college can be. I can only imagine what that would feel like prolonged all the way through March, god forbid May. Although I worked hard to get where I am, I feel very lucky that I can simply experience and enjoy my last few months at Parker. 

With the opportunity of this column, I also just want to say to everyone in our class that I am so proud of us. It has been incredible to see so many of my peers, whom I have known my entire life as exceptional people and students, being recognized for all they are and all they have done. Although a college’s name or acceptance rate hardly counts for everything, seeing my classmates accepted into such extraordinary schools has definitely restored some of my faith in the college process. I hope that those who are still waiting for news are also at least somewhat reassured by the results from this year. I know that we are all destined for great places and even greater things.

So, back to the point. Now that I’m out of the college trance, now that it’s all behind me, what does the second semester of my senior year look and feel like? 

Since my freshman year, my advisor, Mr. Bigelow, has described the second-semester senior as the student who leaves the classroom door “to use the bathroom” to the left and comes back 15 minutes later with Starbucks from the right. In a similar vein, at the beginning of the year, my chemistry teacher threatened to make our monthly unit reviews graded if all of a sudden we, being lazy seniors, started averaging below 50% like in alleged years past. 

I don’t mean to say that senioritis is all a lie. That would not be true. But, I do think the behavior and emotions saddled by my classmates and me amount to far more than sheer laziness. For starters, the college process is absolutely draining. After working on what for many students looks like dozens of unique essays over the course of a few months, it’s understandable that students feel unmotivated to spend time on bulky readings and practice problems. In addition, for those still waiting to hear back from schools, it’s substantially more difficult to focus on schoolwork. On top of that, it’s not reasonable to assume that just because someone now knows where they are going, they are going to snap right back into a fully motivated, rested, and engaged version of themselves. Being a college applicant today is both emotionally and physically draining, and, in my experience, only now — a month or two later — do I feel fully recovered and back to a stable version of myself.  

Not only are some parts of senioritis justified, but I also find many aspects of the second-semester senior stereotype to be untrue. I think the assumption is that second-semester seniors just want to get out of the building and be done with school, but I have felt the opposite. After spending this past winter break away with my family, I came back in January excited to return to school in a way I had not felt in a long time. I know that many of my classmates felt the same.

The biggest reason behind my excitement was, without a doubt, returning to our community of students and teachers. But also, senior year (fall aside) is just great — I wanted to get back to it. This year, I have been able to take classes I find genuinely interesting. I would not say that my classes are easy, but the workload is substantially lighter, especially this semester. 

The expectation is that because second semester has rolled around, I am just going to check out. For me, that does not seem like an option. While having two or three homework assignments a night has certainly felt like a breath of fresh air, my extra time last week, for example, was filled with busy preparation for the Model UN conference that the school will be hosting next weekend. Last week also marked the beginning of work on Volume XII of SCOUT Magazine, which will be the final volume produced while I’m a leader of the Parker publication. These commitments are by choice, but I know that many of my peers and I feel a responsibility and genuine desire to make the most of these opportunities that remain.  

So, while I don’t feel that they are a total breeze, I do somewhat look at these the next four months like a big organized playdate for me and my 87 friends (with a side of AP Calculus and Chemistry). After spending fourteen years of my life with a good handful of my class, it feels impossible that we’re about to part ways, and yet graduation will come all the same. Principally, this semester is about being together. It’s about cherishing every last moment with the people you consider your very best friends and about strengthening relationships with those you haven’t gotten to know quite as well. Throughout my high school experience, I have not felt socially bound to a specific group — I’ve always loved that at Parker, I can say hello and connect with anyone. I think, especially this semester, it’s all about just celebrating one another, seeing beyond any conflicts or differences, and feeling grateful for the shared experiences and community that we have.

And, sure, maybe sometimes we all get a little lazy. But, to most of us, these months mean a lot. So let’s forget about senioritis and go make the most of them.

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About the Contributor
Cate O'Connor
Cate O'Connor, Columnist
New to "The Weekly," Cate O'Connor joins the staff this year as a columnist eager to share her calls on all things Parker and beyond. When busy typing up her most exciting thoughts for said column, you'll likely find her sipping either a blue la croix, green tea, or strawberry lemonade. During the rest of her time, Cate enjoys playing field hockey and softball with her teammates, crafting layouts for SCOUT, interviewing candidates with SIRB, or taking to the podium gavel in-hand.