Seniors, Why Are Your Plates Oozing?

Teaching seniors is a mixed bag.

With college admissions, you often get students suffering from a Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde complex. The first semester has seniors constantly stressed out, with SATs and SAT IIs, writing college admissions essays, with soliciting recommendations, and deciding where to apply. Many seniors also — at least in my school — tend to fill their plates to the edge. Some have crud oozing off the edges of their plates.

They’re overextended and stressed. And I feel for them.

And then, once college admission decisions have been made, you get seniors falling victim of the most ugly and heinous of all diseases: senioritis. Grades, the traditional motivator, have little curative effects. Their corporeal bodies might be in chairs, but their spirits have flown yonder. The stressed out blobs of nervous energy have become sedate lumps.

Right now I’m dealing with the blobs of nervous energy.

And quite a few of them are even more nervous.

A good number of seniors who sign up for regular (non-AP) calculus specifically for colleges. And this then becomes the rub. Because it’s about at this time of the year when students start to realize that they actually are getting graded in calculus. That it’s more than just the name of a course for college admissions. It’s — you won’t believe this — actually a course.

All I can say to them is that I’m here for them. And that it’s never Me Vs. Them, but always Us Vs. Calculus. But I suspect that this distinction will get blurred in their minds as the admission season gets underway.



  1. I am completely in the same boat. You want to be careful with the “us v. calc” thing, though. At least, you have to present it like you are their guide through the jungle of calc. It’s not some enemy to be defeated but some adventure to be conquered.

  2. Yes, you’re totally right. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s how I present it in on the first day — a perilous adventure to earn mathematical treasures.

    Maybe I should say: “Us vs. the monsters preventing us from knowing Calculus”

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