Welcome to our College-in-Covid series! In this series, we pen a letter to each college class to start you off in your first semester/quarter back on campus. Good luck!
Congratulations on no longer being a freshman and moving one step closer to the finish line. I know freshman year was difficult, being that your first college year experience was mostly virtual in the midst of a pandemic. but, I commend you for your perseverance and strength as you learned to navigate through uncharted territory.
I have no idea what the world will look like when it comes time for you to put on your cap and gown and walk across the stage. However, speaking on behalf of all soon-to-be graduates, class of 2024, we are so proud and happy that you are following in our footsteps to create change in our world.
Sophomore year is a time for exploration.
It’s a time for you to make a decision on what path you want to take for your future. A bit of advice from a soon-to-be college graduate,
“Take your time. It’s okay to change your major more than once and be confused and nervous about your final outcome. Personally, I changed my major twice. I started off as a biology major pursuing a career in dentistry because it was what my family wanted for me. However, as time went by and more semesters passed, I realized that I wanted to major in business. Something that I’m actually good at. My point to all of this is, do what makes you happy. Because at the end of the day you are the only person who can control your future. As I prepare myself to embark on my new journey after graduation I am proud to announce that I will be graduating with a bachelor’s in business administration with a minor in biology”-Allen M.
One thing I learned from college is, most of the stress experienced comes from outside sources and not necessarily the course work. By the time you get to sophomore year, you are more familiar with what is expected from you. Exams don’t scare you as much and following your routine is embedded into your daily life. But have you noticed how your friend circles are a bit smaller? Have you noticed that your old toxic friend from freshman year isn’t really your friend anymore? Weird, I know. That’s because, with each semester, we reach a new maturity level. As we advance in our education, we are also advancing in our personal life. We are learning to care more about our mental health and less about the toxic influences we once surrounded ourselves by. My mom used to tell me “ Love yourself first because that’s who you’ll be spending the rest of your life with”. I never really understood what that meant until I got to college.
Personally, freshman year I was a bit reckless with my mental health. I stressed myself out in classes for the fear of failure. I chose friends who didn’t necessarily have my best interest at heart. I gave up a sport I loved due to not being able to fully focus on my studies. And I stopped caring about things that once made me happy. I succeeded academically, but I failed emotionally and mentally. At the end of my freshman year, I decided to use campus counseling services as a way for me to understand why I felt the way I did. By sophomore year, I made the decision to put myself first. In all honesty, that was the best decision I’ve ever made. Never underestimate the power of asking for help. Whether that be your professors, school administrators, or even fellow students, I promise, it will all be worth it in the long run.
Preserving and strengthening your mental health is important.
Many students burn out after the first year, and they decide to take a semester or year off. However, if you are anything like me, and you decide to stay on track, you may begin to feel a bit overwhelmed and unmotivated which is normal. The key to fixing this is allotting personal time for yourself. 2-3 times a week, I used to go to the Georgetown waterfront and sit on the edge of the port and just clear my mind. I used to breathe and allow myself to find myself again. I didn’t think about the hundred and one things I needed to do before the end of the week, or the seemingly never-ending exams that needed to be studied for. I just allowed myself time to live in the moment.
I know you may have a few concerns in regards to living with a roommate. Many of you who were living on campus your freshman year, lived alone due to social distancing measures. Living with a roommate can be really fun and enjoyable as long as you respect each other’s boundaries and living space. During my sophomore year, I resided in on-campus apartments meaning three other people lived in my suite. At the beginning of the semester, it was a bit difficult to coordinate the trash schedule with each other, however, through communication and patience we were able to come to a happy conclusion on which day we take care of the apartment trash.
Being in class rather than learning remotely may present a few challenges. One of the difficulties may be getting back on track and being on top of time management. It’s easier to roll out of bed, get dressed, and log into zoom, but what happens when you need to wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and catch the shuttle to get to the other side of campus all before 8 am. Motivation may decrease so it’s important to create a schedule and routine that you stick with to ensure an increase in productivity and self-drive.
If you were one of the students that were enrolled in college remotely for your entire freshman year, you may have concerns about things such as what it would be like living on campus and what to expect from in-person classes. This is basically your first year of in-person college, so the experience is much different. I’m sure many of you felt robbed of your freshman experience having to spend it at home rather than on campus. You may also feel unprepared because you have no idea what to expect from your sophomore year. Sure you may already be adjusted to the course load, but learning how to juggle your social life, personal life, and school life present a whole new challenge. College and specifically sophomore year is the time in your life where you really learn how to handle curveballs and obstacles thrown your way. You have a better understanding of what time management means, and you are making smarter decisions for yourself. However, maybe it will be more intimating to see more students in the physical classroom rather than behind a screen, or asking your teacher questions in person rather than by email. I totally understand the social anxiety that may come from this new transition. My advice to you is to take a deep breath and try to understand that this is what you worked so hard for. Try to remember how happy you were during your senior year of high school, and all that you looked forward to. You may have spent your first year of college at home, but you have 3 years left to go. Enjoy them while they last, because trust me, these years fly by.
With that being said, sophomores, live in the moment as much as you speculate on the future. Follow those things that energize you. Nurture those interests that you thought were weird. And don’t be afraid to dive deep into your curiosities. Although the image may not seem clear, keep painting so the world can see your masterpiece. Always finish what you start.
In conclusion, stay humble. Remain positive and continue to be grateful. I truly believe one of the ways you will be successful is through planning. Start today as a sophomore with a plan to prioritize and strengthen your mental health. Actively research and familiarize yourself with your field of study. Build healthy and positive relationships not only with others but with yourself. And most importantly allow yourself to breathe and not become overwhelmed with the demands of parents, professors, friends, and the stress and uncertainty that your future can bring. Please keep in mind “College is something you complete. But, life is something you experience” -Jon Stewart.
By: Francesca Mina