by Ilana Gunson
Finding your space as a Sophomore in college
So you made it. The first year of college flew by—as it often does—and now you’re a sophomore. In theory, not much is different. The buildings as the same, there is still that one spot of campus that you hate for a very specific reason that maybe only one or two others will understand, the dining hall food is still always a little disappointing. But there’s a shift. It may be subtle, but after the initial novelty of move in and seeing all your friends again has worn off, you’re left to face the reality.
You may spot it especially during the first week, as the college brings out their best and brightest for the freshman. Whether it is a ‘week of welcome’ or an event to meet new friends, you slowly begin to realize that the things that last year were shiny and built irrevocably for you, now seem a little alienating. There is an unspoken understanding that universities are built for freshman and for seniors and when you’re in that middle bit, it feels like you’re holding your breath, jumping from one cliff to another. You aren’t the ingenue anymore, and this can lead to feelings of confusion and unsurety.
Where do I fit in?
The new freshman you have met are asking you for advice and you feel a rising panic when you don’t know the answers. “I’m just like you”, you want to plead with them, “I’ve only just gotten here.” The panic comes in waves.
You remember how when you first got here, the sophomores you knew were self-assured. They knew all the answers to the questions. And here you are, having more questions now than you did the first year. But then you look at the freshman and they have this glimmer in their eye. You’re not sure if it’s admiration or optimism, but in that second, you must understand that they see you as self-assured. So maybe the upperclassmen you once knew were feeling just how you are now. Maybe they were figuring out their place in the social experiment that is an American University campus.
That question you got asked that seemed so overwhelming now you recognize is about a class you had with a professor last semester. That to get an A, you have to do the required reading before the class in order to best engage with the discussion. You tell them this, and they are grateful. Because you can help. The hallways are familiar to you. You know the best shortcuts which mean you get to hit snooze for an extra 10 minutes. The first year of college was you finding your footing. Now, you can dance on them.
In the words of Taylor Swift, “the scary thing is, you’re on your own now. But the cool thing is, you’re on your own now!”
Being a sophomore is scary. It’s being part of a machine that operated very differently for you just a few months ago. But it’s a different type of freedom. It’s growth and responsibility and experience all rolled into one. You’re growing up, and that’s actually brilliant.