If there were a word to perfectly define the sophomore existence, it would be “meh.”
Many sophomores who expected to come back with renewed excitement for college life have noticed that they are soon dissatisfied with the lives they’re resuming. “It’s a weird time,” said sophomore Reagan Scott. The things that once made college sensational—a new environment, new friends, and customizable academics—are now ordinary. Our routines are pretty much established, and our lives here cemented. “I’ve feel like I’ve been here so long that I’m getting senioritis,” said Scott.
So, what can do to restore our passion? Are we simply ungrateful college kids, or victims of a trend inherent to our undergraduate years?
It would seem that the class of 2024 should be particularly excited to experience this academic year. After all, long gone are the days of the Furman we once knew, where gatherings above four were suspicious and DH drink machines were a figment of the imagination. Sophomores now can engage in real social life and get more involved than they once were. But we are also beginning to realize that there is a flip side to the reopening of everything. “This year I’ve gotten more involved and invested on campus,” said sophomore Russell Richards, “but my schedule is so full and systematized now.” With our workload increasing in difficulty and our schedules filling up, our days are often repetitive and robotic, rather than various and meaningful. I’ve felt this in my own life as well: in taking on bigger roles in FUSAB, the newspaper, and my fraternity, I find that my schedule is decided for me before the week even starts, and my days are beginning to blur together in my mind.
However, against all of the repetitiveness, sophomore year can also be a time of uncomfortable change from freshman year. Not only is our course load becoming more rigorous and career-based, but sophomore year often comes with a reevaluation of friendships and their dynamics. The question racks every sophomore’s mind: “Will I keep the same friends from freshman year?” For most, there will be adjustments and relationships that slip through the cracks, and this can be a hard truth to experience. There is an element of the sophomore slump that involves boredom and dissatisfaction but also one that involves discouragement from the discomfort of change—academically and socially.
Here is what I, and some others, think we can do to beat the slump:
1. Seek out new and different experiences.
Oftentimes, the sophomore slump is worst when we feel a lack of variety in our day-to-day lives. The best way to regain variety may not be to ditch your schedule and start from scratch; it may just be to spice up your days at the micro level—to seek out the optional rather than just fulfilling the mandatory. Get a meal or go for a drive with someone new. Go off campus and study at a coffee shop. Go to an organization’s event you’re interested in. Rent a bike for free from the PAC and bike to Swamp Rabbit Café. The combination of these micro-changes throughout the week will make your life bear more variety.
2. Do a little less.
Obviously, you can’t cut back on academics, but Furman students tend to fill all the empty spaces in their schedule until their day is full of plans. “One thing I think we lost in returning to normal is the idea of having free time and truly investing in relationships,” said Richards. What will ultimately be most fulfilling at college are not the items on a resume, but the relationships formed. It’s time for us to redefine free time as a productive space to exercise friendship and practice spontaneity. Take the alone time when you need it, or go out and do something spontaneous with a friend.
3. Trust the process.
The shifting of friendships and heightening of academics can weigh on the average sophomore, but this is the year in which the rest of our Furman career settles into place. Invest in the friendships you want to keep, but also trust sometimes that major changes to academics and relationships are worthwhile and pave the rest of your path through college.