What You Should Know About the Sophomore Slump

After a whirlwind of a freshman year, you were excited to come back to campus and finally get the hang of things. But ever since classes started, something's been off...you've been feeling overwhelmed. You can't seem to focus on your studies, lack energy to socialize and are doubting your sense of belonging. If you nodded your head in response to these signs, you may be experiencing the infamous "sophomore slump." 

In case you haven't read any of the thousands of 'sophomore slump survival guide' articles, here's the gist: sophomore slump refers to the phenomenon commonly experienced by second year college students involving a lack of academic, personal and social motivation.

Though it can be experienced in many forms or not at all, its effects are seen across college populations. In fact, it even correlates to college retention rates given that about two‐thirds as many students drop out in their second year, as opposed to their first year (United States Department of Education Statistics). Even so, the slump is often dismissed as just a cliché. But the truth is, it matters.​​

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Like most things, we don't think it'll happen to us until it does. The slump can shape the way we perceive ourselves, our loved ones, and our futures. It can make us feel lost, unworthy, or hopeless and create or amplify mental health conditions (like anxiety and depression). Often, it makes us ask ourselves "what is wrong with me?" when really, our peers also experience it. So it's not just a myth.

While the slump is often neglected, it's also taken to another extreme. It can normalize sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating habits, and emotional breakdowns. Consequently, it trivializes and masks actual mental or physical health decline as just a part of the #struggleSo labeling the slump as the status quo must also be done carefully.  

Needless to say, the slump is complicated. It affects people differently and its implications have complex distinctions. In any case, it's important that you not let it make you numb or feel alone in your emotions and experiences. 

This year may bring tears as you cry on the floor with your roommates, countless phone calls home, and discouraging advisor meetings. But this year may also bring laughs, greater appreciation for both old and new loved ones, and incredible self-realizations. Your sophomore year (or the rest of college, for that matter) doesn't have to be defined by this phenomenon. You can and will get out of this funk.

Remind yourself to:

1. Take a deep breath. 

2. Talk it out.

3. Do what feels good.

4. Trust your process.

Even if you only take away one thing from this post, let it be this: you aren't alone. 

 

** Resources to know about **

  • UCSB Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS): call 805-893-4411 or stop by the Counseling and Career Services Building (599) to talk with someone. 

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 1-800-273-8255.