So you made it through your freshmen year of college and youre enjoying your first college summer. But now that you'll be returning to campus for your sophomore year, what have you learned? What might you do differently now that you have one year under your belt?
Here are some suggestions for assessing your first-year so that you can try new things and make the most of your sophomore year:
Start making connections with your professors. Sometimes it can be intimidating talking with professors or teacher assistants (TAs), but they treasure conversations with students. Simply introducing yourself and asking a thoughtful question about the course material after class can go a long way, even in a large lecture class. Go to their office hours. Ask them for relevant additional reading suggestions about the days lesson or about a subject in their field that interests you. Building rapport with professors will not only enrich your learning experience, but they will prove to be invaluable resources for scholarships, internships, research opportunities, recommendations for graduate school and even job opportunities. .
Explore your campus. Your freshmen year was structured for you with special programming, room and dorm assignments, and even required classes and seminars. Now its time for you to explore uncharted territory and see what you may have overlooked in your first year. Push out of your comfort zone and take advantage of the rich opportunities your campus has to offer. Attend a presentation or a performance you may not have gone to before. Check out a new club or organization. Visit unique spaces on your campus that are open to all, including museums, arboretums, theaters, historical landmarks, and athletic events. And your exploration shouldn't necessarily pertain to campus, either. Now is the time to start thinking about studying abroad as well!
Explore academically. As you begin your second year, you're going to start thinking very deeply about your major. Hopefully you explored a variety of classes and departments during your first year, but if not, now is the time to explore courses outside of your usual sphere before you become more focused in your major. Curious about music composition? Never thought biology was your thing? Enjoy writing short stories but you never have the free time? Talk with your academic advisors or contact the class's professor first. Make sure the class is beginner-friendly.. Even if you already know your major, you may find another subject you're passionate about that could lead to a minor, a second major, a new club, or even just a hobby. Not only does this exploration enrich your college experience, but it looks impressive on resumes and it demonstrates that you're a well-rounded person. Plus, these opportunities allow you to expand your social network.
Enjoy your second year. You understand your campus and the college experience, you have a good foundation, and yet you have three years ahead of you. Make this time productive and energizing by exploring new paths. You never know where they may lead.
About the author: Chad Andersonis a Program Associate at theAssociation of American Colleges and Universities(AAC&U), where he works on faculty and curricular development projects related to civic engagement, diversity, general education, global learning, the liberal arts, and interdisciplinary learning, among others. Chad completed his M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Indiana University, where he taught courses in creative writing, English composition, and literary editing and publishing as well as served as Fiction Editor for theIndiana Review. Anderson received B.A. from the University of Virginia, where he majored in English and in American Studies and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He has published fiction in Salamander Review and is also a contributing blogger at AAC&Usliberal.education nation.