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Monday, August 15, 2022

Tackle the sophomore slump this semester

It’s that time of year again where I seriously question if I have seasonal affective disorder, or if I’m simply too lazy to get out of bed because it’s bone-chillingly cold outside.

This time of year finds us in a state of post-Winter Break lethargy, which will inevitably be followed by the stress of adjusting to new classes coupled with anxiety over whether or not a parka is socially acceptable for a night out. This time of year can drive a Wisconsin student insane.

Being a sophomore especially makes this awkward season between winter and spring 10 times more “blah.”

The excited and lively freshmen we were last year are gone and we sophomores have settled into a mundane routine of sleeping, homework, eating and repeating—a cycle many refer to as the “sophomore slump.”

The lack of motivation you may be feeling as a second-year college student is perfectly normal, if not felt by the overwhelming majority of your peers.

In fact, this “slump” is so common, it’s recognized as a worldwide phenomenon: In Australia, the slump is known as “second-year syndrome,” and in England, it is referred to as “second-year blues.”

A sophomore in college is almost equivalent to being a tween on the timeline of life: You’re not young enough to be able to justifiably swipe your bus pass on the 80 by accident, and you’re not quite old enough to get into Wando’s without being scrutinized. As a result, you’re left somewhere in the middle.

It’s a confusing time where, once again, you’re trying to figure out what you really want to do with your life and who you want to be. It’s teen angst all over again, minus the rebellious, pink hair streaks and heavy black eyeliner.

During freshman year, House Fellows and advisors alike encourage taking classes that intrigue your interests. They tell you to learn and explore your passions. But, if you’re like me, you’ve switched your major about five times and are just starting to realize how behind you are on prerequsites.

Throw in possible roommate struggles, trying to cook for yourself with a dwindling grocery supply and stressing over a career path, and you’ve suddenly got enough problems to make curling up under your comforters seem like the only solution.

Although you might be feeling uninspired to live up to your full potential in school and your social life this semester, there is a way to get over the hill that is the sophomore slump. It just takes a bit of persistence.

What personally has been working for me is a combination of being positive, making myself especially organized and finding a balance between responsibilities and “fun” activities.

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When I refer to “being positive,” I mean simply knowing that your efforts in school and life right now do make a difference. Give yourself praise for your achievements. Create a more positive mindset that will encourage you to try your best and be hopeful for the future, whether it be imminent or in the long term.

Getting organized is also one of the most important things that you can do to keep on track. If you break down your homework, club meetings and social events in a day-to-day schedule, you can feel less overwhelmed. I guarantee it will be easier to keep up with each week’s priorities.

Finally, the most important thing that you can do to pull yourself out of the sophomore slump is to have balance: Yes, schoolwork and extracurriculars take precedence over the latest themed party, but don’t confine yourself to the library 24/7.

Excessive studying can be counterproductive and leave you feeling worn out and discouraged from a nonstop workload.

Instead, allow yourself to blow off steam at least one night a week so that you don’t feel like you’re missing out on your college experience. Doing so can also be a refresing mental break before you hit the stacks again.

Although the sophomore slump is one of the most feared events in the college experience (that is, excluding postgraduation life, finals and pop quizzes), it is an inevitable part of your four-year degree that all university students will go through.

Know that with a bit of energy and effort, you can make this semester of your sophomore year your best one yet. Now get out there and stop slumping!

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