Parents & Family

Navigating Sophomore Year

Amid the familiarity students feel with regard to academics, co-curricular involvement, social relationships and the campus setting, there may be times they struggle with pressures related to being a competent student, asserting autonomy and defining their personal and career niches in life.

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 important. Along with your support, our faculty and staff can help your student gain the confidence, abilities and insights that can assist him or her in achieving academic competency, developing autonomy, and discovering personal and career niches.

Academic Competency

A sophomore's schedule often includes courses that fulfill BW core requirements as well as ones in a declared major. 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 or 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 major.

As a parent, you might be concerned if your student switches majors as a sophomore. You might wonder if it might affect staying on track for graduation.

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 or her explore academic and career options while striving to stay on track for graduation. In addition, your student has an online tool, called the BW Graduation Plan, he or she can use to plan course selection.


Starting freshman year, most students begin a steady progression of independence that culminates senior year and extends beyond graduation. But this transition isn't without fluctuation.

For example, a student might experience mixed feelings about financial independence. On one hand, he or she may want to be fiscally independent but doesn't know how to properly manage money. On the flip side, parents may want their student to assume more personal accountability for finances but have difficulty in convincing their student to embrace this practice.

The transition of social issues that began freshman year often continues this year. A student may be faced with the dilemma of sorting out hometown friendships with college-based ones.

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 or she defines personal and career niches.

Academics, relationships, co-curricular activities and other experiences can fuel a student's passion and commitment to a potential career path, social cause or personal endeavor.

Parent Pointers

As a parent, you can support your student by:

  • Listening as he or she shares interests and goals as well as frustrations and uncertainties
  • Encouraging him or her to utilize BW 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, email and text messages and sending cards, gifts and care packages