The first year of college may seem too good to be true. You’re free from all parental supervision and high school rules. The stresses of college are almost completely overshadowed by the glamour of this newfound freedom. School is difficult, of course, but life is good.
Many of us return to school as sophomores and expect to instantly settle into that same excitement after a return from the nest. But the reality may be somewhat less thrilling. You’re at an awkward crossroad in your college career -- stuck between the charm and newness of college and the encroaching reality of “reality.” I’m currently there and it’s taken me some time to realize that this “slump” is perfectly normal and actually quite common.
I look around and it appears everyone knows exactly what he or she is doing and where he or she is going. A sorority sister just got a paid internship for the summer. A roommate just got accepted into her new major. It seems I’m constantly hearing people triumphantly announce their plans to graduate college a quarter or semester early. Pressure’s on.
“The slump” may come from the feeling of not feeling accomplished enough. Maybe the answer to this issue lies in rethinking the way you define “accomplished.” Academic success and career readiness certainly are only part of the picture. Managing challenging times with sanity and some balance certainly needs to be considered its own accomplishment.
It may be helpful to view college as character building -- and somewhat humbling. You want to do well and work hard. But 16 units might be more than you can actually handle. Or your best effort might just yield a “C.” You might not always get the results you want but this is all just a part of your story and not a definition of who you are.
If you’re currently living “the sophomore slump,” embrace it by riding it out with as much grace as you can muster. Confidence and optimism (even if they are a bit of a facade) can help keep you motivated and positive through challenging times. If you’re a freshman, anticipate it. “The slump” may or may not happen for you. But if it does, the way you choose to respond is really important.
Sophomore year of college is a time of uncertainty, but also one for growth. Learn from it, don’t panic, and move on. No matter how it may seem, no one actually has her life completely figured out at age 20. Sometimes it may seem that the pressure is on... but no pressure!