Sophomore Year — The Year of Second Chances

Sophomore year is the underdog of college years. It’s the year that can change your college story from being mediocre to amazing if you give it the same attention that freshman year gets. If I didn’t go into sophomore year thinking of is as a chance to redo my freshman year, I would definitely not have this article posted on Her Campus UFL. Sophomore year isn’t the time to continue the things you regret, it’s the time to accomplish the goals you didn’t last year. This is especially true if freshman year was rough. Freshman year can be glorified to the extent that it sounds like an everlasting party with endless possibilities, but this gloss is thinly covering the harder aspects of freshman year that I had intimate experiences with.

As an out of state student from Tennessee, my freshman year included a lot of adjusting. The University of Florida is a huge school with endless opportunities and countless people to meet, but that huge number of options can be so overwhelming and cause a shrinking of one’s self worth and goals. I found myself falling into a routine of class, working out and Netflix. While this is a great routine for some people, for me, the girl that created and ran the most successful club at her high school while acing her classes and being a social butterfly, I did a 180. I wasn’t completing any of the goals I had set.

My mood was in the dumps behind my dorm, and I couldn’t figure out how to get it back to the fourth floor of Hume with me. The main reasoning behind this struggle of picking myself up was shame. I felt that I had failed myself, my family and my teachers. I felt I had proven the doubters right. Attending a high achieving university two states away from home was too much for a girl that had grown into her skin late in high school.

I didn’t know who to turn to in this point of my life. The friends I had made struggled in ways similar to mine, but I didn’t feel as though they would understand the depths of my feelings. Family wasn’t a resource I felt I could turn to; I’m a first-generation student from a family that lives no more than 45 minutes apart. I would have just worried them. My best idea was to bury it under the covers and grin and bear it until summer when I could review things and plan. My underlying feeling of self-hate tainted all my activities and classes. As far I was concerned, I didn’t deserve a lick of any of the good feelings I had or the hope I had for next year. The idea that you have to work hard to deserve those things was so engrained in me that I couldn’t cut myself slack for taking freshman as a year to figure myself out. I didn’t start the forgiveness process until the summer before sophomore year when I had a conversation with a former teacher who knows me well. I finally understood what I was feeling.

I found out it’s okay to hate that the decisions you made freshman year, but it’s not fair to hold those against yourself for the rest of your college career. You are not just that one year. You are a young woman made of complexities that will continue to grow and bloom. Take what you’ve learned and make sophomore year the year of second chances — here’s how.

  1. 1. Identify what you regret

    Take some time to sit down with yourself and get personal. Think about your regrets and the goals you didn’t achieve. Now, let it go. Baggage isn’t needed to succeed in your later years. All you need to do is learn the lessons they were meant to teach you: your limits, fears, bad habits. Figure out what you’ll do to overcome them.

  2. 2. Figure out what you want out of the next year

    This doesn’t need to be super detailed with a list of twenty things you want to do before next summer. It only needs to a written list (it helps with remembering and holding yourself accountable) of broad ideas with a couple of ways to reach them. Say you want to be more involved with the school. You would write that down and then brainstorm some ideas of how you would like to do that. This could be working on campus, joining a club, rushing a sorority, being a RA or whatever you find interesting. From there, research opportunities that fit your list and put the dates for applications or meetings in your planner.

  3. 3. Hold yourself accountable

    Thinking things through and planning is the easy part, but it’s actually going through with them that can be a struggle. If that was your biggest struggle last year like it was for me, then I suggest changing the way you view your goals. For me, I basically consider my clubs and volunteering as credits I need to graduate. You could also think of the first couple of meetings of a club as appointments you can’t miss without rescheduling months later on. Your mindset has a huge effect on the actions you make.

With all these considered, don’t forget to let yourself breathe. Remember, it’s okay to not do everything you wanted to do. I was certain that I wanted to join Greek life my sophomore year, but I got sick and couldn’t finish the recruitment process. Instead of hating myself for screwing up a dream of mine, I took it as an opportunity to do other things. Mishaps and mistakes are still going to happen, but use them as a chance for other things that you might not have originally done. It could be exactly what you need.