Opinion: Sophomore Slump Has Students Down in the Dumps

A student sits slumped over a desk. Although sophomores are in a state of dismay, things will get better (Photo illustration by Aura Ware).

The sophomore slump is a concept that I thought I made up on my own. I just touched down in Albion from a 10 hour drive from Memphis, Tenn., and things were already starting to feel different. I knew that sophomore year would be different because every year is supposed to be a change of pace, but I didn’t realize that this year would bring such radical changes

 I no longer had my First Year Seminar. I stopped getting the “new person on campus” treatment. It was as if the first year of me being here was my year to study the ways of college, and sophomore year was my exam. I was failing. 

It turns out, I am not the only one who has experienced this phenomenon called the “sophomore slump.”

According to Penn State University Press, the sophomore slump is a phrase used by scholars since education was in its earliest stages of development. 

According to Steven E. Gump, “Sophomore Slump commonly occurs when second-year undergraduate students struggle anew to adjust to college life without the supportive transition initiatives, programming, effectively designed to reduce attrition rates, intended for and often available exclusively to first-year students.”

The sophomore slump is something that Albion College’s administration has caught on to. They are attempting to do something about it using the Sophomore Year Experience.

“Many colleges across the country have established Second Year or Sophomore Year

Experience Programs, and they are continuing to develop every year,” said Leroy Wright, Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students. “Some of the programs are driven and supported in a variety of ways, either solely through Residential Life or in partnership with Academic Affairs and/or a combination of other departments across the College.”

Right now, the Sophomore Year Experience is merely an idea, but Dean Wright says it has many predicted benefits.

“Our Residential Life department is structuring a robust program to help our students continue to thrive as second year students,” said Wright. “The sophomore experience will allow students to learn more about themselves.”

The Sophomore Slump is often described as a time when sophomores don’t know what they want to do with their lives. This is especially prominent on Albion’s Campus where the expectation is that you should typically have your major picked by the end of sophomore year.

“Students will begin to engage in leadership experiences both on and off campus and begin to solidify career goals and paths in more specific ways,” said Wright.

If the sophomore slump is a concept that has been seen nationwide, the question then becomes, “Why hasn’t the Sophomore Year Experience been a part of Albion’s programs in the past?” We may not ever know the answer to this question, but what is more important is what sophomore students need now. 

“The sophomore slump has impacted me in my motivation for doing everyday tasks,” said Emily Rancour, sophomore from St.Charles, Ill.. “I think Albion could give more available tutors that students could use more frequently so we would have less stress caused by studying alone.”

Sophomores are left almost alone after coming back from summer break and they are often asking for that little bit of extra attention they had when they were freshman as they travel through sophomore year. 

Thankfully, Dean Wright is not the only member of Albion’s administration  who is interested in helping future sophomores get out of this slump. Trista Geier, Associate Director for Residential Life and Sophomore Year Experience Program, is also interested in making the Sophomore Experience possible.

“My goal is to continue to develop the how and why for explaining the benefits of having a

successful Second Year Experience,” said Geier. “While it varies from institution to institution, at Albion, we hope to create a collective and well-rounded Second Year Experience that will help students become further engaged socially, create direct lines of support to explore career options, and provide opportunities for involvement specifically as it relates to their vocational and career aspirations.”

Fortunately, there is still hope for the future sophomores of Albion. For right now, it is important to know that we must struggle through the mud only a little longer before times get a little easier.

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