In the Sophomore Slump? 5 Steps for a Successful Second Year (Part 1)

In the Sophomore Slump? 5 Steps for a Successful Second Year (Part 1)
  • Opening Intro -

    This time last year, freshmen college students were excited. Anxious.

    A little nervous about leaving home, but looking forward to answering the questions that kept them up at nights.

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Starting the College Journey: Freshman Year

This time last year, freshmen college students were excited. Anxious. A little nervous about leaving home, but looking forward to answering the questions that kept them up at nights:

  • Would their roommates like them?
  • Would they be able to keep up in class?
  • How would they manage a shared bathroom?
  • Was that cute tour guide who showed them around campus still there?
  • How late is too late for pizza?

Enter Sophomore Year

Now that last year’s freshmen are becoming this year’s sophomores, their attitudes have changed. They’ve been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. (Actually, the T-shirt probably was free.)

They are masters of the campus now. They know exactly how much sleep they need to make it to that dreaded 8 a.m. class. They know how to employ refrigerator cloaking techniques to keep the roomies from stealing their food. And they have come to learn that all-important life lesson: It’s never too late for pizza!

With such vast knowledge, sophomore students may be a bit complacent upon returning for their second year on campus. And that can be their downfall.

The Dreaded “Sophomore Slump”

According to the Education Advisory Board, 6 percent of sophomores at flagship state universities leave college before their junior year (source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/education/edlife/getting-over-the-sophomore-slump.html?_r=0).

A survey by the consulting firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz showed that 25 percent of sophomores nationwide no longer felt energized by their classes, and as many as 33 percent did not feel at home on campus (source: https://www.ruffalonl.com/papers-research-higher-education-fundraising/2013/2013-report-the-attitudes-of-second-year-college-students).

This phenomenon is commonly called the “sophomore slump.” For second-year students, it’s almost like being right on the height line at an amusement park. They’re too big for the kiddie rides (orientation programs, freshman mixers, etc.) but not quite tall enough in stature for the thrill rides (classes within their majors instead of gen-eds, research opportunities, etc.).

Their interest wanes, their grades drop and they discover it’s no fun watching others ride the roller coaster when they’re not allowed.

The Solutions

Some colleges and universities have gone out of their way to combat the “slump” by creating programs targeting sophomores in an effort to make them feel more a part of the campus family. These include special sophomore-only parties and lectures… and yes, in many cases, more free T-shirts, all extolling the virtues of the sophomore class.

However, there is plenty that students can do as individuals to make sure they don’t fall into the “sophomore slump” — or to pull themselves back if they feel themselves “slumping.”

1. Engage With Faculty

Even if a student is still taking gen-eds, he or she can get to know faculty within their major. Professors may seem intimidating to first-year students, but sophomores should know most of them really aren’t — and they’re even less scary when your grade isn’t resting in their hands.

Being proactive and reaching out to faculty who teach the subjects you’re interested in (in most cases, each faculty member’s courses can be found on the college’s website) can leave a positive impression — which can lead to opportunities to assist with faculty research or help secure a nice letter of reference in the next couple of years, when it counts.

Stay tuned for the next 4 steps in Part 2 on Friday!

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Categories: Campus Life