A year ago I wrote an article titled “5 Lessons I Learned During My First Year at Mount Holyoke”, where I reflected on my first year at Mount Holyoke. The article, to my surprise, was shared by the College’s official Facebook page a few days after it was published! Since it has been exactly a year since I wrote that article, I wanted to do a sophomore year version for my final article of the semester. A lot has changed in a year, and I can confidently say that I’ve grown immensely as a young woman in a short span of time. It feels like it was ages ago when I lived in 1837, my first-year residence hall, but it’s only been twelve months. Here are the main thing I learned this year, and I hope they resonate with anyone else who has just finished their sophomore year or is useful advice for anyone who is about to become a sophomore!
1. Take the time to prioritize your own happiness
This was probably the most impactful lesson that I’ve learned this year. I tend to always put everyone else’s happiness before mine, but this isn’t always the best thing to do. Sometimes you need to put yourself first, and that’s completely okay. It’s important to take care of yourself before you are able to take care of others! So don’t feel guilty about telling your friends and family if you disagree over or can’t do something– it’ll all work out in the end.
2. Consider taking a course at one of the other Five Colleges in the area
I am completely devoted to Mount Holyoke’s community and love our beautiful campus, but there are days where I want to get away from it for just a few hours and surround myself with new settings. One of the best ways to explore a new campus is to take a class at one of the other four colleges! I took a class at UMass in the Fall of 2017, and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the experience, and it was great being able to be on different campuses throughout the week. Plus, you get to meet new people and (hopefully) form new friendships!
3. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to force friendships, stick with the friendships that occur naturally
I value my friendships with all of my heart. Throughout my life, I’ve done my best to maintain friendships no matter what by making plans to get together, or just initiating a conversation through text or Facebook messenger. This has been harder for me to do in college, since many of my high school friends go to different schools around the country. Over the past few months I’ve learned that it’s just not fair to yourself to always put so much effort and energy into a friendship when the other person isn’t putting in any effort at all. So don’t focus on trying to keep a dwindling friendship, focus on building new friendships with people who you feel most comfortable with and are close to now, as well as who value your friendship. You deserve to have healthy, meaningful friendships.
4. Spend a fall day exploring campus and taking pictures of the scenery
I think we can all agree that Mount Holyoke is simply beautiful and breathtaking all year round, but I think its beauty is heightened in the fall. It feels surreal looking at the way the sun filters through the trees that are all various shades of reds and yellows. In the fall, one of my favorite things to do is to take out my camera and take a walk around campus, photographing the trees and the foliage. It’s extremely relaxing to do and the resulting photos are amazing!
5. Call your family whenever you miss them
Even though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being independent in college, I do miss living at home a lot. After all, I went from living with my family for eighteen years to living on my own and it’s only been two years. I call my family most nights, and talk to them for a few hours or so. It’s always nice just to talk to them about my day since I don’t see them every day like I used to. So if you’re missing your family members, give them a call! It does a lot for me at least, to help soothe homesickness.
6. Start taking required courses for the major you’re most interested in
As you probably know, sophomores have to declare their major by the Friday before Spring Break. That gives you a semester and a half in your sophomore year to think about what major you’d like to pursue, which seems like a long time but it isn’t. My advice for you is to think about what classes you’ve really loved taking so far at MHC, and look into that major’s requirements on the website over the summer and decide which classes interest you most. You can start taking the classes in that department in the fall so that by the time you declare in the spring semester you’ve already gotten a few of the courses finished. I started taking Psych classes in the spring of my first year because I knew coming into Mount Holyoke I wanted to go into psychology– but some first years still might not know what you want to do yet and that’s okay! Take advantage of the next four months to think about it, trying to narrow down your options. By the time you return in the fall, hopefully some of the stress will have dissipated!
7. Choose one day out of your weekend where you don’t do work
I’ve been told by teachers and adults for years now that if you want to do your best while studying, you could benefit from taking small breaks in between studying to give your brain a rest. I never used to understand that, but now I do. I know it’s stressful when you have a major assignment to do to even think about taking a break from working on it, but it does help to step away for a bit! On the weekends, instead of studying Friday to Sunday night, try taking one of those days off to spend time with friends doing something fun and relaxing instead. It will give your brain time to recover and make studying less aggravating later on! Plus, it’s always crucial to practice self-care!
Good luck to everyone with their final exams this week. I know you’ll all do well! After all, we’re a school of hard-working, independent students. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re all going to crush our finals!
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