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Virginia Rendler

How to Avoid a Sophomore Slump

by Virginia Rendler | Apr 10, 2018
     A sophomore slump refers to an instance in which a second effort fails to live up to the standards of the first effort. I am a sophomore in college, so I suppose I am considering this year my second effort. It’s a bit weird to be in your second year. The first year is all about adjustment- fitting in, finding friends, figuring out your major (maybe) and learning if college is right for you. There are SOL groups and events and First Year Seminars and it’s kind of like summer camp. (Unless you’re a bio-chem major in which case I understand that no semesters are ever fun.)

Sophomore year is different, though. It’s not as serious as junior or senior year. But that means it’s easier to slump. Plus, the challenges that are greater than your first year can be surprising, and anxiety about the future can be overwhelming. I’ve noticed that people are more likely to become unmotivated or dissatisfied with higher education in general in their second year of school.

      So how do we stay motivated? I’m no expert on motivation, but I am an expert slumper. I know how to convince myself that effort is fruitless, and focus on menial tasks instead of action oriented goals. But I do have some free, albeit unwarranted advice about how to unslump, and none of them are to go to the gym or get organized (you’re welcome).

1. Do the Basics

Read this as many times as you need to: no degree is worth sacrificing your mental, emotional or physical health. That being said, shower. Eat real food. Drink water. Practice self-care. I will put this advice in every single one of my blogs, because it is SO important. If your body is not happy, you won’t be able to focus on anything else. Never underestimate the power of a shower and an early bedtime as an antidote for wanting to drop out. To be clear, though, a shower will not fix mental health disorders, and is no substitute for professional care.

2. Talk to your Advisor

I tend to text my advisor when I am having a crisis. She provides a clear headed path for me, straight out of the chaos and fog of my own brain. Plus, she has connected me with opportunities, internships, and jobs that have kept my sophomore year fun and forward moving. Because I am pursuing summer internships and studying abroad, I have direct goals that help me feel like I am moving forward.

3. Be Open Minded

Manchester is a liberal arts school. Take advantage of that. If you are disillusioned with classes, take something outside of your major, go to a club you’ve never been to before, talk to faculty in another department. I am taking Religions of India this semester and it is LITERALLY blowing my mind. I actually enjoy doing the reading for that class. It’s uncharacteristic.

I think the second year of college is a unique opportunity to be past the new experience-stress of your first year, and before the existential stress of your last years. Instead of slumping, I’m going to try to do as much as I can before I head into junior year (wherein my only goal is to not crash and burn.)