Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sophomore Slump or Sophomore Spark?

Everyone throws around the saying “Sophomore Slump” as a largely undefined phenomenon. Urban Dictionary gives the definition: “During a college student’s sophomore year, their GPA drops after having a high GPA from their freshman year.”Do we really not do as well in general coming from freshman year to sophomore year?

As a sophomore in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) I have not yet reached the core of my major’s curriculum when I will take almost all of my classes in the CBE department. Thus far, I have had one class in my major each semester, along with all of the general math and sciences courses required across Engineering. I definitely had a rough adjustment in my first semester freshmen year when I dealt with curves, competition, and exams more challenging than I had never seen before. But I immediately realized why I was so driven to work that much harder: I love math, science, and Engineering courses and I strive to be good at what I’m passionate about.

I think this same motivation drives most everyone in the Engineering School at Penn; passion is at the core of the undergraduate experience here. So where does the Sophomore Slump come into play? It could just be a coincidence that we get a little bit more comfortable and relaxed in our day-to-day lives at school coming back the second year. But for me, it’s been the opposite. I think we are so excited, thrilled, and a little scared freshmen year that we feel the need to go above and beyond proving ourselves in our new academic world. Especially in Engineering, freshmen finally have the chance to explore new applications of their favorite fields.  So, I propose that we rename the “Sophomore Slump”,  the "Sophomore Spark."  Let's bring the academic energy in our second year that we had as excited new students in our first year.  Remind yourself why you're working hard to begin with and bring the "spark" to re-ignite that passion you had in the first year!

Questions for Rebecca?  Contact her at awe@seas.upenn.edu

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