For those students nearing the end of their undergraduate degrees, the realisation that you will soon be a senior may be a hard pill to swallow. While there are those who cannot wait to join the working force and begin climbing the corporate ladder, there are a large number of students who are currently experiencing a flurry of emotions, more commonly referred to as the three Ds: dread, denial and disbelief.

Senior Denial Syndrome (SDS), otherwise known as “graduate blues”, is typically experienced by senior students who are completing their undergraduate degrees, but this applies to postgraduate students as well. Thankfully this does not require a trip to the hospital, because these feelings are perfectly normal and shared by many seniors.

The following ten symptoms of SDS should eliminate any misconceptions around the syndrome and help sufferers better understand their condition.

The inability to comprehend the word “senior”

Individuals who are struggling with SDS have an inability to comprehend the word “senior” and may hesitate, mispronounce or alternatively avoid the word in conversation. These individuals also feel uncomfortable or awkward when lecturers or peers use the dreaded S-word to refer to them.

A renewed interest in campus involvement

It is extremely common for SDS sufferers to join several new organisations and run for various positions of leadership during this time in their lives. This has been attributed to feelings of regret for never having attended the meetings of these various groups on campus despite being on their mailing lists for years.

Voluntary grade sabotage

While this symptom is extreme and not a prominent one among students without trust funds, some students may indeed attempt to flunk tests and assignments in order to hinder the graduation process.

Chronic near-sightedness

Phrases such as “next year”, “final semester” or “for future studies” fly right over the heads of SDS sufferers, who subconsciously tune out when any words relating to the end of their studies come up in class or during conversation.

Involuntary usage of old student cards

This includes the reluctance many seniors experience when they are required to upgrade their cards at the beginning of the last year of their studies. Resorting back to a previous year’s card is a common practice and sufferers can usually be identified by their cards which often look more like self-defence weapons than identification.

First-year party attendance

SDS seniors, often the ones who refer to first-year parties as “silly” or “no fun”, can usually be spotted in the back of the crowd reminiscing about their first year with a blood-alcohol level often triple that of their nearest competitor.

An unnatural interest in first-years

Often, SDS sufferers will abandon the company of their classmates for that of a younger crowd. There can be many reasons for this, such as attempting to create a removed and remote environment on campus, or trying to instil their legacy in future generations so that they never really graduate. However, the most distressed SDS sufferers are the ones who seek romantic entanglements with first-years.

Intense university pride

This symptom is particularly easy to see because sufferers are usually the ones who wear all the UP merchandise they own during the week. This may also change a once academically-orientated or even apathetic person into a raging TuksSport fan who never misses a match, no matter the discipline on display.

A severe allergy to job exhibitions

The presence or even mere mention of job fairs, resumes, interviews and internships can drive a SDS sufferer to distress and often leads to these candidates self-medicating on therapeutic rounds of tequila to cope.

Unfathomable cravings

In severe cases of SDS, seniors may wake in the middle of the night with an insatiable need to consume two-minute noodles, stale cereal, baked beans and box wine.

The most important thing that recovering SDS patients need to keep in mind is all of the good that came out of their undergraduate studies and all of the unforgettable memories forged in the process. Trying to keep a focus on the next chapter of your life may help sufferers come to terms with the hands of time. It is also critical for SDS patients to keep in mind that many of their fellow seniors are experiencing the same struggles as this chapter of their lives end, and banding together in support groups may ease the strain of senior denial syndrome.

Image: Kirsty Mackay

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