The “Senior Slide” Myth

The senior slide: the magical part of your senior year of school when the last three years of effort culminates into a complete and utter disregard of schoolwork and deadlines.
We’ve all heard about that one senior. The senior who took all the easiest classes his or her senior year, got a solid C average, still got into college, and had a great senior year. Despite how much any member of the senior class would deny it, we all want to be that kid. We all want to be taking two introductory language courses and a senior study hall for our core classes, but that just will not happen.
You see, Providence kids are a weird breed. We love to get A’s even when they mean nothing for our intelligence or our future. It is almost like we have a quasi-moral reverence for getting “good” grades and taking hard classes, causing senior year to be a slide in grade not for lack of effort, but for taking Biology, Chemistry, Calculus II, adding on a few leadership positions, staying just as involved in everything else, working for minimum wage (have you seen the price of college these days?), occasionally studying for and taking the ACT/SAT or SAT Subject tests, and completing college applications and supplemental essays like a fifth job. So, instead of taking it easy senior year and letting ourselves enjoy these fleeting moments of dependence and childhood, Providence seniors are commonly heard saying “end my suffering”, “the existential dread is setting in”, or even more regularly, “I got four hours of sleep last night! That’s the most I’ve gotten all week!”
So, why do seniors feel tremendous pressure to maintain that spotless GPA through senior year? Is it just personal drive? Or is it because we’ve been drilled for our entire education that grade is proportional to worth? If it is the latter, that could point to more serious underlying issues, like what we value about ourselves: that an A is more important than health; a degree from Harvard is more meaningful than a happy life, etc. If it’s the former, great! We may be try-hards, but we are motivated try-hards!
In the end, the senior slide seems to be nearly impossible for many Providence students because it so abandons everything we have been told at this institution since we started here: our grades matter, colleges care even after you get admitted, et cetera. While these are true, our time at Providence is almost up. We can never come back and repeat this time in our lives, and it is a waste to spend all of our time looking into the future when the present era is almost over. Maybe Providence should encourage seniors to take a bit of a break and enjoy the last seven months of high school. After all, I could really use some sleep.

[Author Mary Olson is one of the PAW’s “free-lance” writers. To learn how you can become a “free-lance” writer for the PAW, email Mrs. Simonson at]