Often referred to as the "sophomore slump," the second year of college can be filled with many questions and few immediate answers. Sometimes the questions are related to academic studies, or peer and family relationships. Sometimes, feelings related to values and beliefs can raise internal questions. And, of course, the ever so popular, "What am I going to do with my life?" question comes more frequently throughout the second year.These questions, coupled with the physical return to a campus that isn't quite as new or adventurous as it was in the first year, can create a stressful and overwhelming time for second-year students.

Sophomore year issues

Academics
  • Fear that initial success was just "lucky" and can't be repeated
  • Pressure to choose, and succeed, in a major and/or minor
  • Uncertainty about future profession
  • Take courses with upper-class students
  • Need to build relationships with professors
  • Surprised by the increased challenge in studies
Relationships
  • Include more people
  • Include different types of people
  • Experience new communities
  • Involvement in new "types" of groups and organizations
  • Decrease in friendships back home
  • Decrease in the need to go home
Finances
  • Use of finances for immediate gratification
  • Lack of a long-term financial picture
  • Guilt about financial investment being put into someone with no future plans
  • Lack of finances could lead to dropping out
Self-awareness
  • Bittersweet—provides personal freedom and creates internal anxiety
  • Begin the search for purpose and meaning
  • Low energy and drive
  • The "newness" is gone
  • The "real world" still seems far away
  • Lack of motivation—doing the same old thing

What can my student do to get out of the slump?

  • Visit Career Services to take assessments, talk to an advisor, and explore possible major and career options.
  • Explore involvement opportunities.
  • Visit the Counseling Center to discuss feelings and stressors, and gain ways to resolve them.
  • Visit a professor or academic advisor to determine if there is a need for tutoring or academic support.

Adapted from the Paper-Clip Communications audio conference, "Strategies for Sophomore Year Success"(December 2006).

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