E-newsletter Signup

Sign up for the Parents e-newsletter, In the Loop.

Email us: parents@spu.edu

Avoiding the Sophomore Slump


Student StudyingThe freshman year of college is exciting. Students find new friends, explore new academic subjects, and gain a newfound independence.

But because the freshman year is so much fun, the challenges of the sophomore year can be a surprise to students as they grow anxious about choosing a major and career. This common phenomenon is called "the sophomore slump."

At a Crossroads

The sophomore slump is known to be a time of confusion for students. Many wonder, "Why am I in school?" "How do I choose a major?" "What do I want to do with my life?" Some students even "stop out" of college for a while, thinking they will return later. Unfortunately, many of these students never return to college.

Because a college degree opens many opportunities in life, it's important for students to work through the difficulties of the sophomore year so they can graduate.

An Important Phase

College, like life, is continually changing. The big questions that emerge in the sophomore year are questions students will face again in life. Parents can be most helpful to students by understanding this phase, reassuring students that this is a normal experience, and encouraging students to take advantage of all resources available at SPU.

"We care about the success of every student," says Vice President of Academic Affairs Les Steele. "Faculty advisors want to help students work through these challenges so that every student can graduate from Seattle Pacific."

Key Questions and Steps

How can students deal with the sophomore slump?

  • Reassure them. This is a normal experience. Help your student know that she is not alone.
  • Set goals. Have your student reflect on why he is in college, and then list some long-term goals.
  • Remember success. There were successes for your student as a freshman. Have her focus on those and how they can apply as a sophomore (or older).
  • Seek solutions. Have your student ask, "What seems to be missing this year?" — and then list what he can do about it.
  • Do the basics. Sleep deprivation and poor nutrition make things worse. Remind your student of the benefits of eating and sleeping well.

What practical steps can students take to combat the sophomore slump?

  • Ask for advice. People want to help. Have your student make an appointment with a faculty advisor, academic counselor, trusted professor, residence life staff member, or older student.
  • Get involved. Encourage your student to join a co-curricular club or activity that fits their academic interests.
  • Investigate internships. Practical experience can expose students to job opportunities and inspire next steps.
  • Explore options. Have your student make an appointment with the Center for Career and Calling to learn more about classes, workshops, internships, mentoring relationships, and other services.
  • Learn for fun. Suggest your student take one class that is purely for fun each year.

For more insights into how to help your student work through the pressures of the sophomore slump, read advice from faculty, staff, and parents in our article How to Choose a Major.

View Feature Story Archives