Does second year cause sophomores to slump?

For The News-Letter

With the semester about half-way through, students have had the opportunity to acclimate to the new school year.

Sophomore year might be marked as a time when people find comfort on campus, being familiar with fellow students and faculty. However, a rumor exists that this acclimation evolves into the “sophomore slump.” This is seemingly caused by increased academic intensity.

The transition between freshman and sophomore year begins with move-in. The nerves felt before moving in for freshman year are replaced with a comfort of being familiar with both the environment and the community at Hopkins.

Sophomore Anuj Mehndiratta explained differences he noticed between freshman and sophomore move-in.

“I loved getting back on campus this year and having my set of friends. It was a lot of fun coming back and seeing everyone and catching up with everyone,” he said. “The campus also seems much ‘smaller’ this year since everywhere I look there are familiar faces, which wasn’t the case last year.”

Sophomore year is often a time when people are more comfortable socially and have managed to find their niche, as has been the case for sophomore Julia Bateh.

“Socially, it’s good because you find your scene and everyone knows who they want to hang out with, and everyone’s found their area,” she said. “At the same time, you get to meet more upperclassmen since as a freshman you don’t really meet a lot of upperclassmen in the social scene.”

Junior Dan Friedman echoed these sentiments about sophomore year, and added that students in their sophomore year become more adventurous and original in their choices about how to spend their free time.

“Socially, sophomore year is less about meeting whomever you sit down with at the FFC as it is refining your friend groups,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Sophomore year is definitely also a time people start to become more adventurous about getting off campus.”

The different social scene is one element of change between freshman and sophomore year. The academic culture also changes, something that contributes to the “sophomore slump.”

Just as sophomores become increasingly autonomous in their social spheres, so too do they gain more responsibility in their academic lives. Students often talk about a marked difference in their classes. Specifically, they find that they are taking fewer introductory courses and instead encountering more challenging material and managing a heavier workload. Sophomore Olivia Caporizzo agreed her classes this year are more difficult.

“Sophomore year things get harder. It’s less general,” Caporizzo said. “The classes you tend to take are more interesting, but also more time-consuming and work-intensive.”

A more difficult course load is only one element of the academic changes sophomores face. Many students remark that they struggle with the fact that they no longer receive the same leniency they experienced as freshmen when professors, TAs and advisers were more understanding of error. Friedman reflected on the changing difficulties of his sophomore year.

“As a sophomore, you definitely have more responsibility academically. Your professors, if they ever did, don’t give you the same benefit of the doubt as when you were a freshman,” Friedman wrote.

Simultaneously, students begin to expect more from themselves, Julia Bateh explained.

”Academically it’s much harder because for part of freshman year, you had covered grades and you got to relax more. You’re learning how to study freshman year, and then sophomore year, teachers expect you to know how to succeed,” Bateh said. “I thought I was working hard freshman year, but now sophomore year you see really what hard work is and your grades start to matter a lot more to you.”

Many students feel that this increased academic pressure stems from their having a clearer picture of their interests and career path.

“My classes are much more specific to my interests, and the class sizes are becoming smaller as I am getting deeper into my major,” Mehndiratta said. “Because I’m past all the intro courses, what I am learning is more interesting, and I am actually getting to know some professors in the department.”

Sophomore year is also a time for students to flourish outside of the classroom, whether it be through research opportunities, greater involvement in student groups or venturing off campus more.

“More is expected of you, especially as you move onto more senior positions in student organizations. I became the president of one and on the editorial board of another organization, but with that comes the benefits of being able to contribute more, and [you] experience college in more of an adult fashion,” Friedman wrote.

Sophomore Anisha Anand explained that she feels more comfortable on campus this year, even if freshman year was more spontaneous.

“Sophomore year has been different because I returned to my home rather than trying to make a new one. I can embrace a different side of my self because I’m not constantly trying to put myself out there and maximize every experience that comes my way,” Anand wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

“I definitely miss the raw, naive excitement of freshman year, but there is something nice as well in feeling much more confident in my environment and about my relationships.”


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