Dump the second semester slump

There is no set definition to describe the difference between first semester and second semester. When trying to craft my own definition I searched the very trustworthy site of Urban Dictionary only to find this definition: “Pertaining to the students in their second semester of the school year, it is the act of doing poorly on one’s assignment, paper and or tests. This does not just go for schoolwork, can be done in all facets of life also.”

When coming back from winter break to begin second semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there is no change of scenery. The squirrels on Bascom Hill are as present as ever and the Humanities building is still as confusing as it always has been. It brings to mind the question: While the setting remains the same, does our mindset change between first semester to second semester?

It is said that a victim of second semester often displays symptoms of apathy, procrastination with the realization that it—be ‘it’ school, sports, whatever—doesn’t really matter anymore. Those affected with second semester can be found laying in bed, on Facebook, at a party or anywhere that requires the least amount of work possible. The most important question to those in second semester is: Does it really matter?

At UW-Madison, there seem to be few suffering from this second semester bug. Many students discuss how they are more organized this semester, or they brag of how this will be the semester that they do all the assigned readings and receive a 4.0 GPA. If anything, students have even more motivation to succeed now that they understand the ropes.

Now that syllabus week is over and students are beginning to sink back into the routine of college, it seems that more library chairs are taken and more lecture halls are filled. Maybe it is because freshmen now understand that you do have to go to the library to do well in class, and going to lecture is a good idea (no matter how many times your roommate brags that they are skipping class).

Perhaps I am speaking from a freshman bias, but I no longer stare at every homework assignment and ask myself, “What am I doing?” I think that second semester is not the time to do poorly, but instead do better than the previous semester.

There may be times during second semester when one reverts to their old ways of skipping readings and not opening their backpack until Sunday, but I believe the definition of second semester needs to be re-evaluated. Maybe students try to hold off their procrastination methods until the third or fourth week. And maybe students do try harder to succeed and achieve a 4.0, but they somehow continue to do poorly on assignments, papers and tests.

Yes, I am still too afraid to go to my professors’ office hours without a buddy and I still don’t know if I should leave two seats or one between me and another student in lecture halls, but I do know that I will be one of many striving not to fall into the typical definition of a second semester student.

Lilly is a freshman writer for The Daily Cardinal. What is your take on returning to classes after winter break? We’d like to hear from you. Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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