While it is advised students don't wait too long to declare a major, some students aren't ready.
Talking with an academic advisor can help.
The Office of Career Services also offers resources that can help students assess career paths.
Navigating Sophomore Year: Understanding the Dynamics
For some students, sophomore year can be challenging. The excitement of the first year with its new experiences and budding relationships can meld into a time of complacency and even disappointments. Sophomores may feel they have a nondescript role on campus—not having the novelty of being freshmen but not quite having attained the status of being upperclassmen.
These factors, coupled with feelings of uncertainty with regard to their career paths and academic abilities as courses become increasingly difficult, can lead to students being overwhelmed and/or frustrated at times.
Parent encouragement is as important in the sophomore year as it was in freshman year. Along with your support, our faculty and staff can help your student gain the confidence, abilities and insights that can assist him/her in achieving academic competency, developing autonomy, and discovering personal and career niches.
Building on freshman year, a sophomore's schedule often includes courses that fulfill BW core requirements as well as ones in a declared major (if a major has been chosen).
This process enables a student who is an undeclared major to take general courses aimed at fulfilling core requirements while still allowing for academic exploration.
In addition, it allows a student with a declared major to take focused courses as a way to discern his/her level of interest and competence in a particular academic area. During this time, a student is encouraged to be receptive to other options with the possibility they could develop into a double major, a minor, or a change in his/her major.
As a parent, you might be concerned if your student switches majors in the sophomore year. You might wonder about him/her staying on track for graduation as well as question if your student might be experiencing feelings of disillusionment or disappointment that could change in a few months.
BW resources can help. Your student's academic advisor, as well as advisors in the offices of Career Services and Academic Advising, can help him/her explore academic and career options while striving to stay on track for graduation. In addition, your student has an online tool he/she can use to plan course selection. Called the BW Graduation Plan, this resource facilitates student management of academic progress to help ensure a timely graduation.
Rather than being a clear-cut path with defined markings along the way, the road to autonomy can be evolving and uncertain at times—fostering adjustments and growth opportunities that may be emotional, financial and/or social.
Starting freshman year, most students begin a steady progression of independence that culminates senior year and extends beyond graduation. And while a student might seem to revel in this newfound freedom, there can be an underlying sense of needing assurance that family encouragement and support are still available.
As an example, a student might experience mixed feelings about financial independence. On one hand, he/she might want to be fiscally independent, but be unsure of how to properly manage money and/or be wary of losing the security that comes from knowing parents can help pay the bills. On the flip side, parents might want their student to assume more personal accountability for finances but have difficulty in convincing their student to embrace this practice.
Likewise, the transition of social issues that began in freshman year often continues throughout sophomore year. In some cases, a student might be faced with the dilemma of sorting out hometown peer and romantic relationships with college-based ones. Problems can come into play if there is an emotional attachment or social dependence to these individuals that affects the student's ability to fully acclimate to college.
Personal and Career Niches
Similar to freshman year, the factors of identity formation, self-esteem and self-concept continue to evolve and influence a student's sense of values, direction and purpose as he/she strives to define personal and career niches.
An ongoing process of discovery, exploration can occur via academics, relationships, co-curricular activities and other experiences that help fuel a student's passion and commitment to a potential career path, social cause and/or personal endeavor.
In some cases, a student might begin to question long-held values and beliefs or seemingly start to distance himself/herself from family and peer connections. In rare instances, a student might say he/she is considering dropping out of college or transferring to another institution because of feeling frustrated.
While moderate changes in personality can be common during times of transition, sustained or worrisome ones can indicate a need for a student to seek personal and/or career direction. It may be that he/she is feeling lost in trying to define personal and career niches or that he/she hasn't quite acclimated to college life.
And while a student might believe that dropping out of college or transferring to another institution might solve frustrations, there can be underlying problems that need to be addressed or temporary conditions precipitating his/her concerns that would be worked out over time.
Listening and talking to your student during potential times of frustration are important to helping him/her work through periods of uncertainty. Likewise, a student should visit BW's Counseling Center, Office of Academic Advising and/or Office of Career Services to gain assistance in addressing areas of concern.
As a parent, you can support your student by:
Listening as he/she shares interests, strengths and goals as well as frustrations, disappointments and/or uncertainties.
Encouraging him/her to utilize BW's array of campus services and programs.
Allowing for autonomy when it comes to decision-making—even though it may be difficult to watch your student make mistakes along the way.
Staying in touch via phone calls, e-mail and text messages and sending cards, small gifts and "care packages."