Surviving the sophomore slump: Advice for second year students

Students react to a required item in their film's set, a playgym, at the 48-Hour Film Challenge Kick-Off on March 21. (Melanie White | Collegian Media Group)

Listen. You’ve probably seen the same article a billion times. Everyone and their dog has written about how to survive your first year of college. Go to class, get connected, make new friends, party smart, blah blah blah. What about the next year?

Just because you managed to make it through the first year doesn’t mean that you’re an expert. I should know. I returned to campus feeling like an all-knowing deity, but I was promptly corrected by the swift kick in the teeth that was my second year.

Now, I survived — barely — and I’m here to greet all of you second years with open arms and the hubris of a woman who once again thinks she knows everything. Buckle up kids, because here are the things I wish I’d known my second year.

1. Apathy is the enemy.

When you’re staring down the barrel of three more years of college after the shine of a new experience wears off, it’s hard to believe that anything matters. What is life but and endless march of mindless tasks until the end? Does it matter if you skip a class today? Or maybe all of them?

In short, yes it does. You have to find some meaning, some purpose to keep you going. Remind yourself of the end goal. Every single class you go to is a means to that end. Every single minute you’re clocked into your job keeps you fed and housed.

The future might feel far away, but it’s closer than it appears. Make it count.

2. Recognize when you aren’t healthy.

Sometimes it’s tough to tell when you aren’t OK. Like sure, physical health is pretty easy to keep track of. If you’re sick for the third day in a row, maybe it’s time to go see a doctor instead of throwing up between class periods.

By now, as a second year, you probably have a job, you probably have a circle of friends and you probably have a set of activities outside of classes you’re part of. Are you losing interest in them? Are you pushing yourself too far?

Everyone wants to be everywhere and do everything, but it’s not feasible. Mind your mental health, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have all the answers yet, but there are people out there who do.

3. Change is a beautiful thing.

I joked when I left for college that leaving my hometown was the ultimate personal rebranding opportunity. Whatever I was, I could just set it aside and be the person I’d always wanted to be.

What I didn’t realize then, was that you can choose to reinvent yourself at any time. If you’re unhappy in your major, make a change. If your relationships in your life are holding you back, find new ones.

All of this is so much easier said than done, but if there’s a chance it’ll make you happy, it’s worth a shot. Your sophomore year is the perfect time to make a change that will positively impact the rest of your college experience and solve any problems you had last year.

Leah Zimmerli is a community editor for the Collegian and a junior in mass communications and political science. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to

Hi there! I’m Leah Zimmerli, community desk co-editor, relentless optimist, and lover of big and small dogs. I’m a junior in political science and journalism from Overland Park, Kansas. I hope to bring you pieces that challenge you, that broaden your mindset, and help you learn more about your K-State community.