The "Sophomore Slump" is Real

Nothing quite compares to your first year at a university. Everything appears new, shiny, and authentic. Everything seems to be centered on you, and the other first-years. Free food, free t-shirts, fun events. Classes might be stressful, but no one worries about that because they’re busy getting their social life going and adjusting to this new environment. Then second semester hits, and maybe you realize that you aren’t in the right major, the right clubs…. maybe you aren’t in the right group of friends. You decide not to worry about it and just keep going out and having a good time, trying to squeeze out all the fun of the last few months before summer hits and the party is over.

Then sophomore year beings. You return to the campus you love so much and tell yourself that you’re going to do everything right this year, and find the place where you truly belong. But you’re so involved, because weren’t you such an outgoing freshmen? Now you’re completely swamped with work and academics and there is hardly any time left for friends, family, or even yourself. A couple months into the semester and then you finally ask yourself, "Am I even happy? Am I supposed to be here?"

Not only are you overwhelmed with trying to balance out your social life and your academics, but you’re also trying to figure out if you’re in the right major. The reality of the future is more apparent than during freshman year, when it felt like anything was possible. Now you have to get committed to something, and know you better turn back before it’s too late.

The most detrimental aspect of the "Sophomore Slump" is the fact that you think you are alone.

 

freeimages.com/adkadiusz szymezak

 

Social media definitely does not help with this. Your friends from back home who went to school together post pictures of their annual Halloween party, and of course it’s a blast…. meanwhile you ditch your plans just to get a few extra hours of much-needed rest, and inevitably feel embarrassed, and wonder if something is wrong with you. “Why can’t I just let myself have fun? Why am I so stressed? Why am I so lonely?

After reaching out to some of the people around me, and opening up about this unyielding doubt, I realized and was surprised by how many people felt the same way. Whether you feel out of place with your studies, your involvements, or with the people you surround yourself with, it’s important to understand that most students are going through, or have gone through something similar. Students need to remember that it is OK to feel this way, and that it is completely normal.  

What is important is recognizing that you aren’t happy, and deciding what kind of changes you need to make, or whether or not you should make changes. If you find yourself thinking “What if I transferred closer to home” or “I’m not smart enough for this; I’ll do something easier” or “I won’t make it, I should drop out now” try asking yourself this: How will I feel in the future if I leave, or change my major?

If you want these changes for the right reason for you, then you have a feeling that you probably wouldn’t regret it. If you aren’t sure, then think about what exactly it is that is holding you back. Personally, the times when I doubt my current academic path is when I wonder “What else is out there? What else might I be good at?” This is where the “grass is always greener on the other side” mindset becomes relevant. I tried thinking about the things I would miss about my major, and there were many of them. Another career might make me happy, but what if I change my major, and still feel this strange self-doubt? Is the problem actually with my major, or is it with me?

Recognizing this is difficult, but necessary to do. What needs to be remembered is that everyone goes through this, and everyone ends up all right. At the end of the day, just being a sophomore at a university is something to be immensely grateful for; don’t let the stress of sophomore year get you down, because even if you can’t answer all of your questions now, the future is full of possibilities. 

 

freeimages.com/roxana anghel