Freshman year of college – there’s nothing quite like it. Parents and friends send their last goodbyes, after helping you unpack all of the countless boxes full of things you definitely won’t need, and you’re left with a newfound independence and practically zero supervision. Orientation and Welcome Week are a blur as you constantly meet new people and try to learn the ins and outs of classes and campus (and all the ways to avoid the stairs). As the weeks turn into months, you experience the thrill of getting into your first Mod party, the panic of getting on the wrong T, the solidarity of taking the Newton bus back and forth, and the shared sense of confusion and excitement that accompanies freshman year.
But what happens when freshman year ends? The novelty wears off, and you and your new best friends go your separate ways for three months. How can it all change as fast as it came together in the first place?
With college being the “best time of your life,” coming back sophomore year has to be just as good if not better than the year before. Then why is it not filled with just as much excitement as freshman year? Things aren't new and exciting anymore, and you begin to feel jaded and lost. Things like parties, dining hall dinner, and just walking around campus can feel repetitive and boring. If you feel like you fall under any of the previous statements made, you may be suffering from the “sophomore slump."
When you return to BC in the fall after spending a summer away from campus, you’re no longer living in a tight knit community of your classmates like you were on Upper or Newton. Instead, the dreaded housing process has sullied and separated many friend groups, spreading them all over campus from doubles on CoRo to eight-mans in Walsh. Friend groups inevitably change over time, but coming back for sophomore year and not having the same dynamic with your friends as you did when you all lived down the hall from each other in CLXF can be off-putting. It’s hard not to continuously compare your first and only year at BC to everything you're experiencing as you go through your second year, and it’s even more difficult without the carefully curated freshman experience that BC and ResLife work so hard to create.
It seems that the incredible efforts of campus programs are what help foster the excitement of freshman year in the first place. Boston College does a great job of helping freshmen adjust to being on their own and getting used to all that college has to offer. Without guidance from the Office of First Year Experience, retreats and groups such as 48 Hours, Freshmen League, and Ascend, and late night RA programs every week with your hall mates, freshmen would flounder under the stress of so many new things being thrown at them. Freshmen are provided with time and resources that allow them to explore different majors and departments, take interesting seminars and core pilot classes only offered to first year students, and attend events to ensure that they are acclimated to BC and are taking advantage of opportunities. These incredibly impactful programs, however, are not offered to sophomores, leaving some gaps in social and mentoring activities.
Beyond social scenes, academics really ramp up sophomore year. Professors expect more from students, classes get smaller, and work gets harder. This can be difficult for a lot of students to handle–especially when students are so excellently guided through freshman year academics.
The stress of academics then manifests itself into preparing for a career, applying for and getting internships, and working towards leadership positions in clubs. In regards to that, sophomore students should have just as much, if not more, guidance than freshmen.
It is completely normal to ask yourself, “What am I doing here at BC?” It is also completely normal to question why you aren’t having as much fun as freshman year, or why your friend group from last year doesn’t hang out as much. The “sophomore slump” can foster a feeling of uneasiness in an inevitable transition from freshman to sophomore year. Just because things feel different, however, does not mean things are all bad. Resources are still available, clubs are still organizing, and friend groups are still forming.
Not all sophomores will experience the “sophomore slump,” but its effects can be felt by many second year students. BC specific programs such as Endeavor, Halftime, and Thrive exist to help students transition from underclassman to upperclassman and get out of any “slump” students might be feeling. Regardless of any feelings about sophomore year, the truth is that we only have four years on the Heights, and while each year has its pros and cons, it’s important to make the most of our short time here. Sophomore year doesn’t last forever and neither will the slump.