Turn the Sophomore Slump into the Sophomore Jump
First year students come to college filled with high expectations, interested in making new friends, getting involved in campus life, and working toward their academic, professional, and personal goals. But by their sophomore year, many students find that the initial thrill of college is gone.
Sophomores return to a familiar campus environment, where they have established relationships and routines. While some students find this familiarity comforting, others may start to feel that their college experiences are limited or falling short of their expectations.
Maybe students begin to worry that they did not make life-long friendships during their first year of college. Maybe they have lost interest in playing the sport they played throughout high school. Maybe they discover that they don’t really like their science courses and start reconsidering a career in medicine. It is common for sophomore students to question their choices, to rethink their plans, and even to register some dissatisfaction with their college experiences.
We call this kind of questioning, and the declines in student engagement and academic performance that often accompany it, the “sophomore slump.”
Although the sophomore slump is a real phenomenon, it is not inevitable.
What Can Parents Do?
You may not need to do anything. For many students, sophomore year is smooth sailing, and they continue to build successfully on the foundation they established during their first year. However, you should be aware that your student may lean on you for support now more than before. Have a conversation about your student's first year experience. Review what worked and what did not work, and encourage your student to make necessary adjustments.
If you are concerned that your sophomore is experiencing a slump, encourage your student to:
Try something new. Recommend that your student experiment with a new club or co-curricular activity or seek a deeper level of involvement in a current activity. Sophomores still have many opportunities to develop new interests and grow in meaningful ways.
Make plans but keep an open mind. The sophomore year is a time to explore and narrow a major focus, to plan for studying abroad, to begin building a professional resume of experiences. But if things aren’t working out as your student planned, encourage your student to make other plans. Having a plan will keep your student motivated and on track, but it is okay for your student to change his or her mind.
Talk with others. Suggest that your student speak with his or her advisors; seek out professors during office hours; consult with professional staff members in the Colket Center, the Career Center, the Center for Global Education and Field Study, the Counseling Center, and the Wellness Resource Center. Inquire about peer mentors. Relationships with professionals and peers on campus will be instrumental for sophomores as they make decisions about their futures.
Participate in Sophomore Jump Activities. We understand that the sophomore year is a challenging but important year for students. This is why we sponsor a number of events through the Sophomore Jump Program to help sophomores make the most of their remaining years at college.
Advice for Sophomores
A career and academic services professional shares 10 tips for getting more out of sophomore year.Cornell University professor of English, Daniel R. Schwarz, provides "19 Suggestions for College Sophomores," one in a series of advice columns about how to get the most out of higher education.