For some students, second semester of sophomore year can be a time of academic, personal and social challenge. Feelings of monotony, lack of academic and/or career direction, as well as increased pressure to excel can be overwhelming.
In addition, some sophomores may feel they have a nondescript role on campus – no longer having the novelty of being freshmen but not yet having attained the status of being upperclassmen.
Sometimes referred to as "sophomore slump," this period can be challenging. Students may be striving to achieve competence, develop autonomy, establish their identity and define their purpose in life. They may view the excitement of the first-year as being over and the pressure of an ever-increasing workload looming ahead. When combined with other life stresses, it can feel overwhelming at times.
Signs Your Student Might Be in a Slump or Headed for One
- Feeling anxious, depressed, burned out or overwhelmed all or most of the time.
- Being socially alienated or feeling as if you are.
- Questioning relationships with family, friends and others.
- Suffering from feelings of disappointment, anger and apathy that are sustained or increasing.
- Feeling bored or restless with college or life.
- Experiencing difficulty with studies and other commitments in terms of being unmotivated, unfocused or overwhelmed.
- Having uncertainty about a declared major or in choosing one.
Ways to Support Your Student
While they may be hesitant to ask for assistance, sophomores can benefit from college, peer, and parental support and guidance. Along the way, it is important your student:
- Realizes he or she is not alone in feeling this way. Many sophomores experience a mid-year slump.
- Takes time to consider what factor(s) may be making him or her feel anxious, depressed, burned out or overwhelmed, so he or she might find possible solutions.
- Seeks assistance from BW resource people in areas such as Counseling Services, Academic Advising, Learning Center, Residence Life, Career Services and Health Services in order to address concerns regarding academics, career direction, roommate, time management and physical, mental and emotional wellness.
- Vents frustrations, disappointments and worries rather than allows them to fester within and cause misplaced anger, anxiety, depression and other ailments of a mental, physical or emotional nature.
- Talks with family members, friends, upperclassmen, resident hall assistants and other support individuals who can listen and offer input for consideration.
- Balances coursework expectations with the need to unwind through activities that are personally and socially enjoyable.
- Reduces stress through exercising, eating nutritiously and getting adequate sleep while avoiding alcohol/drug, social and other behaviors that can lead to negative consequences.
- Considers his or her level of co-curricular involvement and part-time employment, so there is a balance between gaining personal, social, financial and academic benefits without feeling overwhelmed or burned out due to an overly demanding schedule.
- Looks ahead to the summer break and fall semester with consideration to enhancing his or her academic experiences through Explorations/Study Abroad, internships, Undergraduate Research and Creative Studies, and community outreach initiatives as well as other experiential activities.
Addressing a Prolonged Slump
Unfortunately, depression, stress and anxiety are common among today's college students. Yet only half seek professional assistance. BW Counseling Services offers screenings, individual/group therapy and more.