You did it! You made it through your first year of college and are returning this fall to advance your education. It took some time to get used to being on campus and overcoming the butterflies that many freshmen students experience, but you have succeeded. Moreover, you’ve avoided joining one in three students that quit college by the end of their freshman year, demonstrating your personal commitment to finishing your education.
The sophomore year isn’t all roses, however. There are some things you should avoid and other matters to address now, before you move too far into the semester.
1. Review your credits. You are a freshman, right? Then again, you might be straddling your freshman and sophomore years if you didn’t take enough classes or receive credit for each class. Generally, you need to have 30 credits under your belt before moving to the next academic level. If you are behind, do not despair: you may be able to make up credits as you go including over the next summer. Check your transcripts to see where you stand.
2. Carry your load. The classes you take for your sophomore year may seem similar to what you had during your freshman year. Some will be, some will not. If you have yet to declare your major, consider doing so as soon as you are certain what that will be. If you’re not sure, take an aptitude test through your college development office to target your major. College major related work generally doesn’t come in until your junior year, but there may be some prerequisites to get under your belt during your sophomore year.
3. Take care of yourself. You have heard of the “Freshman 15” and the weight gains alleged with that. For many students the weight gain is much more subtle than that, what you add on here and there while in college. Eat right, get enough sleep and by all means exercise. Avoid binge drinking, stay away from drugs and if bad company is corrupting, then stay away from these people.
4. Stay on pace. Resolve to begin your assignments as soon as they are assigned. Do not put off your term paper and get in the habit of reviewing your notes regularly. If you are struggling with a class, meet with your professor. If you are struggling with your college, meet your advisor. Resolve to tackle problems early on and to get help as soon as you need it.
5. Just get involved. All study and no play makes for a dull boy or girl. Avoid spending all your time in academics, but do spend enough time to learn what you need to learn and to prepare for your tests and papers. College is more than your academic experience, however. It is also the place where you learn to work in groups, network and how to interact with people of different cultures. Join a club, volunteer, take in a sporting contest…have fun!
6. Look beyond the now. Your sophomore year can also help you build your GPA and discover what you want to do beyond college. Imagine where you will be three years from now because that is when you will begin to work or go on for your master’s degree. Your college years go fast and will soon vanish. At the same time, know where you want to be and the steps you will need to take to get there.
Plan to meet with your academic advisor early on in your sophomore year. Once you identify your major, you will need to work out a path to complete your education. Your advisor can help you reach your goals and talk with you about other options including double majors, studying abroad, internships and possible master’s programs.
See Also — College Freshmen: Off to College Prep