Sophomore year: seemingly the most anticlimactic period of one’s college experience. The novelty of being on our own is gone, yet the excitement about the opportunities of adulthood and the “real world” has not yet hit; the period distinguished primarily, and sometimes exclusively, by simply “not a freshman anymore.”
To most college students, the term “sophomore slump” is all too familiar. Wikipedia defines sophomore slump as “an instance in which a second…effort fails to live up to the standards of the first one.” At first glance, this may seem like an acceptable description of the struggle second-year students are enduring. This definition however, expresses some fatal flaws.
The above definition is predicated by the assumption that an effort equal to that of the previous effort yields subpar results. The reality for college students is that sophomore year requires a much greater effort than did freshman year, and because the stakes are higher (so to speak), so are the standards to which we are held.
In this vein, the sophomore slump is not actually a “slump” at all, but rather is an ongoing period of high stress brought about by the pressure of higher expectations and requirements.
The first pressure unique to sophomore students is that of choosing a field of study. This is the time around when most students are finishing up their core requirements and, not coincidentally, are all required to declare a major. This is a decision that, in theory, dictates the career path of the rest of our lives. Sure, we can always change it, but we are halfway through our time at BC—we only have a few more semesters to make this decision if we want to graduate on time.
For those who already have their major selected, sophomore year is when we first begin to take upper-level courses. Gone are the lecture halls and freshman seminars, in which we could all bond about wanting to be literally anywhere else at 9 am. In their place come classes dominated by peers who will be competing with you for the same job a few years down the road.
Of course, the logical way to get a head start on the job prowl is to get an internship. Our summer vacation is no longer a relaxing, beach-going break from school, but instead is prime time to gain professional experience. Sophomore year is the time to attend internship and startup fairs, create a resume and write endless cover letters in hopes that eventually some firm will make us an offer to spend two months working for free.
Even for those of us trying to hold on to one more youthful summer, it is a given that we must assume several leadership roles on campus during the year. After spending freshman year trying to figure out our place at BC, we are now among the more experienced and expected to dedicate a substantially greater amount of time to each of our involvements.
Ironically, one of the most stressful parts of sophomore year is the amount of time spent planning for junior year. Those living off campus scramble to secure the perfect living situation within the first few months of school, and once their own abroad plans are figured out (a process extremely stressful in itself), spend the rest of the year searching for sublets to fill any remaining spots or occupy their homes for the summer. Those living on campus resign to combine the remaining fractions of each of their friend groups into some amalgamation that fits BC housing’s magic numbers of eight or four.
Amidst these stresses we struggle to maintain our physical and mental health, and our social lives, which at times may seem impossible.
The good news, however, is that we know in the coming years the goals we are striving toward will be reached, and all our hard work will have paid off. Lastly, we can always take solace in the fact that at least we aren’t freshmen anymore.