Sarah Blugis: Freshmen, save yourselves from the sophomore slump

I am a firm believer in the sophomore slump.

But I wasn’t always. At the end of my freshman year, I couldn’t wait to come back after summer break because I was beyond excited to no longer be at the bottom of the food chain. I wanted my second year to be a productive one: I would finish my general education requirements, get more involved and make a bunch of new friends.

I had heard about the sophomore slump, but I figured I’d be the exception and have a great time as a second-year GW student.

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Sarah Blugis

But I was wrong, and my next two semesters ended up being my worst. My freshman-year friend group quickly disintegrated and, often, I felt lonely and left out. I was homesick but so busy that I couldn’t find time to go home. I took classes that I had no interest in just to fulfill GPAC requirements, resulting in my lowest-ever GPA.

It was a disaster, and I wasn’t alone. My friends went through the same thing, and I know a few people experiencing it now.

But freshmen, not all hope is lost. My sophomore year was a bust for one reason: I made bad choices at the end of my first year. But you still have time. Set yourselves up for next year right now, and you can avoid the sophomore slump.

Your second year is an important one. It can set the tone for the rest of your college experience, depending on the friends you make, major you choose and student groups you prioritize.

Some have suggested remedying the slump by boosting counseling services and career advising, but in my own experience those programs focus on students who are already sophomores. By then, it might be too late. Freshmen should be preparing now.

Soon, you’ll choose your housing for next year. It’s your most important decision because roommates can make or break any college experience. It isn’t an easy one, so think carefully. Choose roommates based on who you would live well with, not who’s your best friend.

Living with your closest friends isn’t the best idea if your lifestyles don’t mesh well. Fights over garbage, dishes and noise can tear any friendship apart, adding stress to your life that you don’t need.

Instead, find people who you’re certain live like you, even if they’re not your closest friends. Or even go random. Either way, avoiding inevitable roommate fights with your friends will help keep your relationships – and your support system – intact.

If you’re anything like me, though, you may not have found your group yet. It took me a long time to find where I fit at GW: I only became an editor at The Hatchet, for example, during the second semester of my sophomore year. But until then, I struggled.

I had friends, but I didn’t have a home. I joined everything and did too much and, soon, I barely had time to breathe. I was so busy trying to find my place that I forgot to take care of myself.

It’s only February. Freshmen, you can get a head start. Sometimes you can find your friends within a student organization. Cultivate those friendships and keep in touch over the summer so that in the fall, you can focus on working your way up the ladder.

That way, not only will you expand your social circle, but you’ll also show your commitment to the organization. It will open up leadership positions as well as more friendships in the future. Plus, you can develop a fun hobby, like theater, sports or writing.

By limiting the stress that comes with finding the right group, you’ll also have more time to focus on your classwork. But as registration quickly approaches, remember: Choose classes that interest you.

After your sophomore year, there’s no going back because you have to choose a major. Don’t take a bunch of general education requirements just for the sake of crossing classes off your list – you’ll be bored, I promise. If you have to take a science course and biology doesn’t interest you, don’t take it – find something else that grabs your attention. Wait until spring semester if the class isn’t offered until then.

Let yourself have fun before you choose your major. You don’t have to know what you want to do. Many of us upperclassmen don’t even know what we want to do with our lives. But unlike us, you still have a chance to find your thing, your passion, and the best way to do it is by taking classes that pique your interest. Have a long meeting with your adviser soon, before registration, so you can plan a fall schedule to look forward to.

The key to a successful sophomore year is limiting stress – and you can do a lot now, before summer break.

Don’t let my sophomore slump horror stories – or anyone else’s – scare you. But don’t brush them off, either. There are people who have amazing sophomore years – I just wasn’t one of them. I hope you are.

Sarah Blugis, a junior majoring in political communication, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor. Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.

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