A Letter to Rising Sophomores
May 2, 2016
By: Rose Saunders
Dear future sophomores,
As a rising senior, I can’t believe how quickly my time at Appalachian State has flown by. It feels as if it was just the other day that I was moving into my freshman dorm room in Coltrane Residence Hall, but here I am now: working in the University Writing Center, living in a nice apartment with my cat and lovely roommates, going to an internship in Wilkesboro three times a week, and getting ready for the 4+1 Accelerated Admission graduate class I will be taking this summer. When you’re a freshman, people always tell you how quickly it will all fly by, but you don’t truly realize it until life in the real world is only a semester or two away. However, before you even get to that point, you will have grown and changed an incredible amount. So, with this in mind, I am writing to you about what to expect while navigating your sophomore year of college.
One of the first real differences between freshman and sophomore year for many students is the living arrangement: freshman students are required to live on campus, while sophomores have the choice of living off campus. Dealing with first-time apartment leasing can be difficult, but it’s worth it. When I moved on campus my first year of college, I noticed soon after that I never felt like myself anymore and that I was frequently agitated and annoyed with the people around me. I questioned coming to Appalachian State, who I was, and life as an adult overall, but upon reflection, I realized I was feeling that way because I didn’t have my own private space anymore–an outlet necessary for a self-proclaimed neat-freak and introvert, such as myself.
With that said, if you’re feeling disenchanted with the way that your freshman year went for whatever reason, things could get better once you have more control over your living situation. For me, moving off campus greatly improved my college experience. Having your own sanctuary space to regroup and be at peace is more important for some than others, but simply having enough space for all of your belongings and a shower that you don’t have to wear shoes in can be a relief in itself. Living off campus greatly improved my college experience, but it does come with new responsibilities and may not be for everyone.
Sophomore year also brought changes to whom I hung out with. Freshman year, many of us acquire a huge amount of friends, which is pretty easy because everyone is new, excited, and lives within a short walking distance; simply leaving your residence hall can lead to a social gathering, especially when you live near The Office or The Pit. Living with a greater distance between you and your friends as a result of off campus housing will reveal who truly matters to you because it requires a lot more work to maintain relationships when you don’t live in the same building anymore. This could be both a good and a bad thing, but your group of close friends will likely change in comparison to freshman year. On top of this, some of your freshman-year friends might leave ASU or Boone in general, and you’ll have new neighbors, new classmates, and people within your major whom you’ll become closer to. Although I cherish all of the memories that I made with each of my freshman-year friends, I only hang out with one of them on a regular basis anymore. Even without the large friend group that I had my first year at Appalachian, I find myself happier now than I was then. Whether you prefer a large friend group or a smaller one, these changes are bound to happen as everyone matures and moves on to bigger and better things, so just be aware that changes in your social life are normal and to be expected.
Along with a change in living arrangements and one’s friend group, sophomore year also brings academic changes. Unless you came to App State with a ton of transfer and/or AP credits, sophomore year will provide many of you with the opportunity to finally begin some of your major-focused classes. It’s awesome to finally be doing classwork that will directly apply to your life outside of the school, but this can also increase the stakes at hand. While flunking out of a General Education designated class isn’t exactly great, it’s much more detrimental to fail a class that you need for your major. Along with this, some majors require that certain classes be finished with a C or higher in order to count. Things will begin to get real sophomore year, and your school life will most likely become more complicated in comparison with freshman year.
Although you may have already anticipated this, it can be really difficult, especially if you only put in as much work as you did freshman year; As you progress through your college career, you will need to increase the amount of planning and effort that you put into your academic life, otherwise you will fall behind. These academic changes caught a few of my friends off guard and resulted in many of them leaving ASU. They thought that they could do exactly what they did freshman year– study just before a big test, party constantly despite looming responsibilities, show up to class when they felt like it– and get away with it, but that wasn’t the case. You won’t have as much time to goof off like you did freshman year, so don’t plan on it if you want to be academically successful. However, if you find yourself struggling, the University Writing Center is a great place to find support! We can help with any stage of the writing process, even if you just need help figuring out a game plan for a daunting writing assignment.
Great changes take place every single year you are in college. Consider what you were like at the beginning of freshman year compared to where you are now as a rising sophomore. How different are your attitudes about life and the world around you? Did you learn some new things about yourself? Have your goals and aspirations changed? Most likely you’ve grown a great amount over the course of the past year, and that’s to be expected! I came to college assuming that I was done with adolescence and had moved on to the stability of adulthood, but this wasn’t the case at all. As a middle grades education major, I truly believe that young adulthood (18-25) is almost as tumultuous as early adolescence (10-15)! Although we’re not going through puberty at this stage of life (thank God!), we are working on the transition from teenage-hood to adulthood, much like tweens are working on transitioning out of childhood.
Because of this transition, things are not always easy and can, at times, be really awkward and difficult. This was something that I didn’t really expect when I came to ASU as a freshman, and didn’t fully realize until this past year. I felt like I had to have everything figured out at 18 years old, but now at almost 21 years old, I understand that I know nothing. The best thing to do at this point is to plan ahead, but just know that your plans don’t always go as expected. Don’t base your opinion of college and Appalachian State on your first year, because each year is unique and provides new opportunities to grow and learn. Don’t assume that your freshman year BFF will always be there for you, because it could turn out that you end up going in completely different directions. Everything is up in the air at this point, which is both terrifying and exciting. The possibilities are endless!
Good luck with all that you do, and please come visit me in the Writing Center. 🙂