Sophomore-Year Experience With a year of college under their belts, sophomores emerge with a whole new list of opportunities and challenges. The anxiety of encountering a new environment and people has eased. The sophomore's friends at college may begin to be more significant than his/her friends from high school, and returning to school in the fall may feel more like returning "home."
There are also some stressors that occur during the sophomore year. The phrase "sophomore slump" came about in the 1950s and refers to the decline of a student's excitement for college, and an overall sense of loss of the purpose of learning.
The special attention and support one received during the first year at college has stopped and has now been transferred to the new group of entering students.
The novelty, mystery and excitement associated with beginning college have faded.
Sophomores shift from meeting new people and attempting to fit in, to trying the more challenging task of sustaining friendships and advancing toward deeper, more intimate relationships.
Moving from a year of investigation and exploration of possible majors/careers to a second year of crystallization and finalization of these decisions
Change from personalized, first-year-focused staff advising to discipline-based/department-centered faculty advising
Combating the "Sophomore Slump"
Get involved in the campus: Join or start a student club, work as a TA for a professor, get a job on campus, join an intramural sports team, become a DJ for the radio station, write for the newspaper or yearbook, or participate in volunteer service, like En Christo or Habitat for Humanity.
Apply for leadership positions on campus. Student government, student life, the health center, the chapel, and multicultural student programs all have leadership opportunities for students, as do most academic departments, where students can become peer mentors, TAs and research assistants.
Go to the career center and learn more about options you have in selecting majors and careers. These choices often cause anxiety and stress, so consider taking a career assessment test in the career center that will help you to identify your skills, passions and interests. Also, take time to meet with your advisor or an academic department head to learn more about the options you have in various fields of study.
Attend the internship fair and the career center open house in the fall and also the job fair in the spring to start making connections to organizations with which you may want to work.
Junior-Year Experience The junior-year experience is one in which students begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They are solidly within their major, have completed a number of general-education requirements and are now beginning to go in-depth in their areas of study, which can be very stimulating. Smaller classes in the upper-division courses allow students to get to know their professors on a deeper level, which helps students who will need reference letters for jobs and grad schools.
The junior student has a much easier time finding a niche in the university community. Leadership positions abound for junior students in all areas of campus, and student organizations welcome more experienced students to be a part of clubs, trips and student media.
The pressure of graduating and finding a job is a year away, so the junior student should dig in, get involved in his/her major classes and enjoy all the extracurricular experiences s/he can while in the university environment.
Potential Adjustments, Challenges & Stressors
Transition from on-campus living and learning residential environment to independent off-campus houses or apartments
Learning to pay rent and utility bills and to buy and prepare meals, deal with landlords, etc.
Driving to campus and finding places to park!
Finding a mentor, and beginning to network with community professionals and alums in the student's chosen field of study and work
Finding an internship in the major field
Participating in a study–abroad program
Researching career options in the career center and beginning to develop a résumé.
Exploring graduate schools
Clarifying personal values, passions and interests
Learning about specifics of good relationships with friends, partners, parents, faculty, co-workers
Working with the academic advisor to solidify academic expectations for the major, to set up internships, and to insure that the student is on track to graduate on time