Connect and Reconnect: Fighting Sophomore Drift
Many students report that a feeling of being adrift (both academically and socially) begins to sweep over them during sophomore year and they don’t know how to respond. One strategy is to take intentional and powerful actions on multiple fronts rather than float helplessly. The actions of connecting, reconnecting and re-engaging are often the key to anchoring yourself. And you buck the national trends!
Connect/Reconnect to friends both old and new. You might be feeling that some of your friends don’t seem to “fit you” as well as they did last year. It’s natural that some friendships fade and some strengthen during the college years. As you become more aware of your own preferences, interests and values, you are likely to seek out peers who share the same. That’s a normal consequence of growth and change. Now is also a good time to identify any “train wreck” people in your circle; the ones that drag you down instead of supporting your efforts. If you are able to gradually disengage from these people, you will have an opening for that next (potentially amazing!) friend.
Connect/Reconnect to the interests and activities that you really love. You may have explored many activities, but by now, some are probably calling you stronger than others. Again, it’s a sign of growth and change. Don’t be afraid to shift your focus as necessary and use the “Saying No to Obligations” web page (under Success Manual: Organization) if you need help disconnecting from activities that no longer invigorate you. A new interest, on the other hand, may provide an energy boost and is a great way to dive into the year!
Connect/Reconnect to your strengths. It can be much harder to determine your path if you don’t have an accurate idea of your authentic strengths, not just what you’d like to be good at. And if you focus on weaknesses, as many of us do, the picture can get very blurry. Take a proactive approach! Spend some time with the “Identify your strengths” page and seek resources at the Academic and Career Planning office and on-line. Identifying strengths can increase your self-knowledge, focus and enhance your academic performance and suggest rewarding careers for your unique talent set.
Connect/Reconnect to your hopes and dreams. It’s easy to lose sight of your dreams as the practical realities of career/major choices pile up and consume your energy. Now is a good time to re-examine your dreams, and see which ones are “Up on the wall to admire” dreams, “If only” dreams, or dreams worthy of direct action. Read the “Goal setting” pages (under Success Manual: Organization) to help get started. Redefining and focusing your dreams is a life skill and a good task to learn this year.
Connect/Reconnect to your instructors. In national studies, sophomores often register the lowest level of contact with professors outside of class. This isn’t true at Alma, where there are so many ways to connect with your instructors. Office hours are a wonderful chance to ask how your instructor selected his or her career and the twists and turns that he or she experience during his or her college years. You might even ask about his or her sophomore year!
Connect/Reconnect to academic success. Another national study result! Most sophomores admit to falling back on low maintenance learning strategies, such as spending most of their test prep time on memorization. Because memorization is the lowest level of learning, it is hardly surprising that these students become discouraged with their academic performance. Now is a good time to develop (or increase) your use of learning teams and other innovative techniques for maximizing learning. See the Success Manual website, your instructors or advisor and the staff at the Academic and Career Planning office for help. Sharpen those skills! Become a master student!
You aren’t the only one. Connecting can give you a sense that you aren’t alone, and you can find different people to help you with aspects of your journey. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone on the path ahead of you did exactly that, just as you will extend a helping hand to those who come after you!