Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, your sophomore year of college can be one of heightened uncertainty and lower motivation, as many students start to second guess choices and paths that were chosen during their first year. In fact, this time frame has a name – The Sophomore Slump.
Fear not, this is a very normal experience for a lot of students!
If you currently find yourself in the midst of the slump, we’ve laid out some ideas for how to cure any “symptoms” you might be experiencing.
COUNTERING THE SLUMP SYMPTOMS
Social Symptoms may include no longer feeling that “click” with some friends made in freshman year or feeling like you don’t quite belong in a certain friend group.
Solutions: It’s okay to gradually move away from the friends you no longer feel close to and create situations in which you will naturally meet new people. Start trying to form connections with other students in your classes, in your residence hall, or even in a student org you’ve recently joined.
Academic Symptoms may include lack of motivation to attend class and study, sometimes accompanied by second guessing the major you are pursuing.
Solutions: Find some ways to bring novelty and excitement to your academic life. Change study groups, start using electronic flashcards and study tools (See Study Stack, for example), make a point of speaking in class, etc. And start planning now to take something really intriguing or outside your comfort zone during Winter session. (Winter 2017 registration in now live and you do not need registration clearance!) With respect to the major, talk to your academic advisor, visit the Career Center to take an interest inventory, and network with students in majors that appeal to you.
Life Direction Symptoms may include guilt about the cost of college given your indecision about the future, or general boredom alternating with feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
Solutions: Plan some very positive next steps! Plan to study abroad. Plan an internship in a field related to your current major or a potential major. And sign up for new recreational and extracurricular activities like intramural sports, taking up a musical instrument, or joining new clubs or campus organizations.
Sophomore slump tendencies are a reflection of your “middle child” status on campus—no longer new and not yet in the big leagues of academic work. You are no longer eligible for the extra attention given to freshmen, but you are starting to take some challenging upper level courses along with juniors and perhaps even seniors.
The solution to the malaise of sophomore-hood is almost always action. This would be action to make changes in social habit patterns, action to try new courses, join new organizations, and plan new enriching activities. Sometimes the action you need to take is to collect additional information – about majors and careers, about internships and study abroad programs. Less stewing and more motion will help you beat the slump and stay on course toward graduation and all around success.
OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES
7 Ways to Slip Through the Sophomore Slump, by Kelci Lynn Lucier, in U.S. News and World Report on line, Sept 2011
The Sophomore Slump, by Samantha Stainburn, in NY Times, Nov 2013