“It was one of the worst days of my college career,” said Kylie Smithe, senior Anthropology major, about the fateful afternoon of March 29. “I just really let myself get behind on my work, and I had to resort to drastic measures to get all my homework done on time.”
I had to know—just what did she have to do that was so scarring? Plagiarize a paper from online? Sneak a cheat sheet into an exam? Bribe a professor with sexual favors for a better grade?
She could barely bring herself to say it.
“I had”—her voice broke as a tear rolled down her face. “I had to pull an all-dayer.”
To understand the gravity of the situation, I talked to Dr. Ronáld J. Morrow II, senior senior researcher at Strong Memorial Hospital. It was from him that I learned about the epidemic ravaging the Class of 2017.
“Despite our best efforts, UR has again been struck this year by a raging epidemic of ‘senioritis,’” he explained. “We’ve been working on a vaccine for years, but unfortunately most of our undergraduate lab assistants come down with the disease before they can finish working out the final kinks in the formula, setting our research back months as we have to hire and train new students.”
It is believed that only seniors are susceptible to the disease due to their aged and weakened immune systems. Peak incidence is usually from March to May each year, but symptoms will often start as early as January or even December.
Symptoms include loss of motivation, lethargy, and drowsiness, and the only known cure is a cocktail of several of drugs including graduation, starting a job, and the onset of student loan payments.
Smithe was one of the first seniors affected by this year’s wave of senioritis, noticing her first symptoms in late January as the semester was just beginning. In a stroke of luck, she happened to lock down a job just a few days before she came down with her illness. Academics have been a struggle ever since.
“The only way I can describe it is that it feels like when I had mono freshman year, but only when I’m thinking about or trying to do homework,” she said. “Even something as simple as writing 400 words by noon every Friday is an uphill battle.”
Asked to recount the terrible day of the all-dayer, she took a few minutes to compose herself and told her story.
“On a normal Wednesday I wake up around 11:15, contemplate going to my 11:40 class, then go back to sleep until 12:30 when I’m ready to start my day,” she began.
The rest of the day consists of breakfast, a 20-minute power nap, a 2:00 class, a four hour nap until dinner, an hour of homework, and a strict bedtime of 10:00 pm.
“But last Wednesday, I don’t know what went wrong,” she said. “My roommate got up at some ungodly hour for track lifting or something, and I couldn’t get back to sleep.” She cited her previous day of 20 hours of sleep as a likely factor. “So I started doing some research for a paper I hadn’t started that was due before spring break, and before I knew it it was 1:30 and time to go to my class. I was so tired by that point that I needed coffee for class, and that kept me from taking my pre-dinner beauty sleep.”
As she prepared dinner and watched the sun dip below the horizon, she realized the gravity of what she had just done.
“I couldn’t believe I had just done something so unhealthy as staying up an entire day,” she said, milking the consequences of her actions.
She plans to sleep for 24 hours straight to try and make up for her grave error.