Jennifer Ross

Imagine your ideal Saturday: sleeping in, recapping last night’s events with roommates, maybe squeezing in a game or two of Wii Mario Cart before refueling and going out for round two.

For some second semester Miami University seniors, this isn’t just an ideal Saturday-it’s their everyday routine.

Sarah Coffing, a senior marketing major, said she plans to get the most out of her last semester in Oxford.

“Senioritis isn’t about giving up,” Coffing said, “it’s about giving in and just enjoying your last year.”

The last hurrah

Describing herself as senioritis stricken, Coffing is enrolled in 13 credit hours and has no class on Fridays.

Yet what may be influencing Coffing’s laidback attitude is the job she has lined up after May graduation.

Coffing will be working in the corporate training merchandising program at the home office of Abercrombie and Fitch in Columbus, Ohio. As an assistant merchant for the company, Coffing said she will be responsible for product creation and part of the decision-making process from the first sketch to the sales floor.

Since confirming her job in late October, Coffing said the news has affected her motivation.

“I feel a little less pressure knowing that I have a job secured,” Coffing said.

Coffing said it has been difficult not to replace playing Rockband with her roommates with hitting the books at King Library.

Coffing is not alone.

Kelly O’Brien, a senior accounting major, said she has similarly experienced the tug of senioritis.

“Senior year, your priorities shift and it’s easy to get by doing the bare minimum and going out every night without having to worry about grades,” O’Brien said.

By taking heavier course loads her first three years at Miami, O’Brien said she now has the opportunity to let herself relax and enjoy her last semester.

Based on credits, O’Brien said she was eligible for graduation May 2008 but opted out to stay in Oxford and complete the 150 credit hours necessary to take the CPA exam.

With her accounting major and actuarial science minor out of the way, O’Brien said she is now taking courses that she has always wanted to take, such as the history of Miami, racquetball and “Viticulture and Enology,” better known as wine tasting.

Like Coffing, O’Brien received a job offer as an associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City.

“As a first-year auditor, I will be traveling to client sites and auditing their financial statements while finishing up the CPA exam and working toward my CPA license,” O’Brien said.

While her course load may seem light, O’Brien said she is confident she will maintain the GPA she has maintained for three and half years, especially since she must keep her grades up to maintain her job.

“I’ve always been a perfectionist,” O’Brien said. “I do my best no matter what.”

The nearing end

Kelsey Kuptz, a senior education major, said she wants to maintain her GPA but has realized there is more to life than “stressing” about grades. Since completing her student teaching last semester, Kuptz said her mindset has significantly changed.

“This semester compared to last semester is a complete 180,” Kuptz said.

While student teaching, Kuptz said she woke up at 6:30 am to be at Kramer Elementary School by 7:45 am. She spent eight hours teaching second graders and arrived back to Oxford between 5 and 6 p.m.

For Kuptz, however, the day did not end there. As president of her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, at least four nights a week required her attendance and hundreds of e-mails needed to be answered daily.

With her term as president completed in December and her student teaching finished, Kuptz said her priorities have shifted.

“You realize you are leaving and going to be in the real world, so you want to live up the last semester of the good life in college,” Kuptz said. “My priority is making sure I spend as much time with my friends as possible.”

While Kuptz said she does not think she has a full-blown case of senioritis, she predicted it may kick in as she continues to take her broomball and individual exercise courses.

Unlike Kuptz, senior Colin Stief, a geography major, has no time for elective classes.

Neglecting to complete his foreign language requirement his first three years at Miami, Stief said he was left pondering if he would be walking across the stage in May.

Unable to pass out of the foreign language requirement, Stief said he was left with no choice but to sign up for French his second semester senior year.

“I was frustrated,” Stief said. “Because of the school’s effort to give me a well-rounded education, they stifled my ability to learn what I would use in the real world.”

Stief enrolled in an upper level French literature and theater class. He said he is nervous he would not pass the class and be unable to graduate with his friends.

Stief said he has no senioritis as he is taking all upper level geography courses and said his work ethic is 10 times what it was his first year because he now enjoys the subject matter.

Senioritis: the myth?

Senioritis is very real for Bill Brewer, professor of communication. Teaching senior capstones along with a mix of other classes, Brewer said he can see the shift in academic attitude.

“I do think there is senioritis,” Brewer said. “Many (second semester seniors) are focused on what they’re going to do after Miami. They feel like, ‘Enough already, get me out of here.’ But there’s also the sadness to of ‘I don’t want to get out of here.’ It’s to be expected. They have to work harder to motivate themselves.”

Brewer said senioritis may develop from the rush of mixed emotions seniors experience when considering graduation.

“It could be that they’re sick of school, but also ‘I’m coming down to the end of a major portion of my life and I want it to be over, but I don’t want it to be over,'” Brewer said.

When it comes to scientifically proving senioritis among college students, statistics are scarce. Statistics and research more commonly focus on high school students, with articles appearing in USA Today and preventative methods from The College Board. Although high school senioritis may be proven, college senioritis is a gray area.

Jeffrey Herbst, provost of academic affairs, said Miami does not keep statistical data tracking the academic performances of seniors. Herbst also said he has not been presented with the issue of senioritis by faculty.

Herbst said one possible explanation could be that faculty do not pay much attention to a student’s year in school when grading tests or reading essays.

Another explanation disproving senioritis could be that students become more interested in the coursework as the years progress, Herbst said.

“What I’ve heard is when students move more through their major they get more excited about their field of study,” Herbst said.

Yet for those tempted to let grades slip during the last months of their college career, Herbst said caution is necessary.

“Grades do matter through the end,” Herbst said.

Although Herbst said each student has an individual experience, he said he thinks the first year of college is the hardest.

“Your first year is a whole set of academic, social and person adjustments,” Herbst said.

However, Herbst said he hopes the challenge of finding a job senior year doesn’t discourage students.

Herbst said he advises students to give thought to where they would like to be in a year and in five years, while also considering international opportunities before complications arise from careers and families.

What’s next

For Kuptz, less demanding coursework led her to apply for a job at the 1809 room to avoid extra time on her hands. Working as a server two times a week, Kuptz is not exploring her options post-graduation.

Kuptz
said she ideally would like to move back to San Diego and get a second grade-teaching job. Kuptz said searching for a job from a thousand miles away is difficult, but she is not yet discouraged, as education positions are not typically offered at this time of year.

Although getting a job was the last thing on Stief’s mind at the beginning the fall 2008 semester, Stief said he now plans to spend the month of July backpacking, rock climbing and white water rafting through the Appalachian Mountains in South Carolina. Stief said he plans to apply for a position at a national park and is also considering graduate school.

As advice to seniors like Kuptz and Stief who are seeking jobs, Brewer said seniors need to view their college education as a cumulative process.

“(Focus on the) same things they’ve always focused on, doing the best work they can,” Brewer said. “It’s time to transition to, ‘What do I want to be in society?'”

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