Help your teen avoid high school senioritis

So you’ve spent the past 12 years encouraging, cajoling, bribing and demanding your child to do well in school. Now that he or she is a senior and has been accepted into his or her dream college, you may think you work is over. Think again.

High school seniors heading to college may fall into a mindset in which they just want to take it easy during their senior year without realizing the consequences. They may cut back on the studying, school activities, part-time work and other activities that looked great on a college application. Instead, they’re stubbornly focused on leisure activities, friends and fun.

This change in attitude, known as Senioritis, may result in a drop in grades and perhaps a rise in attitude from your teen. This condition, while temporary, is a way for teens to release the tension they may have felt over the high school years focusing on the grades needed to get into college. Mental health experts also say after three years of being serious about studies, these teens can sense the freedom they’ve dreamed about as a young adult and want to take it easy before the challenge of college begins.

What can parents do to ensure senioritis doesn’t end up as a serious problem that it jeopardizes their teens’ college admission? Here are a few tips:

Beware of consequences

Explain to your teen that if they slack off too much and their grades drop, they could risk having their college acceptance revoked. Colleges do pay attention to the last semester grades, and may react negatively to a huge drop in a Grade Point Average. How would your teen feel if all of his or her friends went off to college while he or she remained at home working or attending the local junior college?

Set expectations

Lay the ground rules for attendance and grades for the senior year. Take away privileges such as their smartphone or car until they understand you are serious.

Keep them busy

Emphasize that any college-bound teen still needs to keep busy in their senior year. Encourage them to get a part-time job or to do volunteer work. Both provide real-world experiences that are helpful in college and beyond.

Talk to your teen

Sure, the days of helping your child with their homework are long past, but you can still help by just being there. Find out how they feel about attending college, identifying their career goals, leaving friends, etc. Just let them know that you’re there for them no matter what happens.

If you’ve got a high school senior heading who is a Travis Credit Union member and heading to college this fall, he or she is eligible to apply for one of our $1,500 scholarships. Visit for more information next month about our Mary Keith Duff Memorial Scholarships.