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Is “Sophomore Slump” A Real Thing?

As my sophomore year of college comes to a halt in a very unexpected way, I’ve started to reflect on the last six months of my life. In all honesty, sophomore year was a rollercoaster of highs and lows that I wasn’t fully prepared for. You might’ve already heard the expression “sophomore slump,” which refers to the unique, awkward time of a sophomore in college. You’re not a freshman where everything is new and exciting, but you’re not a junior or senior, so you don’t have validation in the real world quite yet. This is a strange in-between accompanied by slow-burning change. For some, their friend groups of freshmen year slowly go their separate ways while others deal with the reality of picking a major or career path. Many are faced with the decision to abandon long-time interests and must weigh the options of interest versus financial stability. It feels as if you’re entering the real world, but you’re not quite there yet.

After our first semester, I posted a forum and gave other college sophomores the opportunity to share with me their experiences. I received a large number of private messages telling me stories of sophomore year. The common trend was an unsettling feeling over minor changes that slowly add up. As a result, many sophomores feel unmotivated and unsure of their place in friendships and their school as a whole.

I heard of “sophomore slump” before this year, but I didn’t take it very seriously. Even if I did, I don’t think it is something you prepare for. Looking back, I think I expected to feel very comfortable and settled due to already having been in the city for a year. I was definitely surprised when I felt an overwhelming amount of change within my friend dynamics and the types of classes I took. Reality definitely set in after I was rejected from my major, journalism. I have another chance to apply but it forced me to decide on a back-up plan-something I hadn’t even considered before.

I now realize I used the newness of freshman year to push away thoughts of planning my future. Of course, no one should feel obliged to have it all figured out, especially as a freshman adjusting to the major life change of college. But you hear a lot during your freshman year, “You have time, don’t worry about that” or “The answer will come as you take more classes and try more things.” While these are true to an extent, I think these ideas can mislead students. It gives freshmen the idea that time isn’t a factor when in reality 8 months to a year isn’t a very long time and will, unfortunately, come up very quickly. In a way, I’m very thankful I was rejected by my major. It made me sit down and define what I want to do with my life (at least short-term) and pushed me to explore alternative avenues.

As a result, I started writing for different student orgs and worked for a modeling agency to decide if fashion and beauty was something I truly enjoyed. While doing this, I became incredibly insecure about my ability in the real workforce and some of my social interactions. This was all new territory and I felt like a fish out of water. This experience is obviously something different for everyone, but for me, I felt like I was constantly leaving my comfort zone, which was mentally exhausting at times. out of my comfort zone.

To be clear, I am not saying I disliked my sophomore year. There were some amazing highlights to my year such as directing a show, a job opportunity, and new writing orgs. I didn’t write this to scare incoming sophomores or put a bad light on my sophomore experience. I write this to remind other sophomores that they are not alone in this time of transition.

So what would be my best advice to an incoming sophomore? Take things one day at a time. Remember your major does not define what you do with your life by any means and you can also change it! (at least at most schools) If you’re experiencing friend changes, remember those who want to be in your life will make an effort to do so. If you feel unsettled, that’s okay too. This will pass and rest assured you are not the only one experiencing this. Sophomore year may not be the easiest at times, but it is a time of growth and in the end, I think that growth is worth some of the hardships you will face during the year.