My sophomore year of college was a defining year to say the least. I made it through mono, got accepted into the business school, got my first rejection letter from an organization I interviewed for, dropped my sorority, had a new job, watched several of my friends graduate, and defined more about what I want to do after college. While none of these things are a big deal, a lot of emotion came with some of them and sometimes I wished maybe there was someone there to prep me for some of this stuff. While no one’s sophomore year will be exactly the same as mine (I wouldn’t wish mono on my worst enemy) I hope maybe some of these tips resonate with you guys whether you are going into your sophomore year or not.
Decide what is best for you and do it
The summer before my sophomore year I made the decision to drop my sorority. I had absolutely nothing against the girls or anything against the sorority really, it just simply wasn’t for me. I couldn’t picture myself living in a room with 5 other girls, participating in weekly chapter meetings through my senior year, learning chants for formal rush, and being asked to give so much of my time when I wanted to put my time to other use. My one year in sorority was great, but simply wasn’t something that I wanted to continue in. I had to do what was best for me and ended up dropping the summer before my sophomore year. I still see the girls from my chapter all over campus and love catching up with them. They have been super supportive of my decision and have all enjoyed hearing about my involvement in other things on campus as well.
It’s never too late to join new organization or committees
A senior in college told me at the beginning of my sophomore year that it’s never too late to pursue a new committee or organization. Sometimes opportunities come up to be a liaison for the Women’s Leadership Conference or a new organization is starting up and gives you the opportunity to be a leader. It doesn’t matter if you are entering your sophomore year, you can still find new organizations to join. Not everything has to be figured out during your freshman year.
Make time for your friends, even if it gets in the way of school work sometimes
Second semester I ended up with a job that was semi demanding. I worked most evenings and weekends and even had to do on-call shifts. If I wasn’t working then typically I was working on school work to get caught back up and I definitely let several friendships go to the backburner. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would realize that sometimes nourishing your friendships comes before school work. There are several friends that I will be apologizing to and that I need to make amends with after being a horrible friend this last semester.
Things don’t always go as planned
My senior year of high school I had it all planned out. I was going to rush a sorority and be super involved in it until graduation, live in the dorms freshman year, live in the sorority house my second year, RA the third year, and live on my own the last year. So far the only things that have gone as planned are living in the dorms and living on my own. And I’m okay with that. In college I’ve discovered organizations and things to be involved in that weren’t even on my radar my senior year of high school. I wouldn’t change the direction my college experience has gone for a thing.
Start networking. Now.
It was easy for me to get into the mindset that I was a sophomore and still technically had 3 years to network. Little did I know, getting on multiple company’s radars as soon as possible is only in your benefit. You don’t want to find your way to the business fair your second semester of senior year only to realize you don’t know how to sell yourself to a potential employer. Go to the job fair now so that you learn from your mistakes before you are in a crunch to find a job. While making mistakes might be something you give yourself a hard time about, you at least know what to improve on for next time.
Just keep trying and working
Saying that the math and economics classes that my marketing major requires has killed me is an understatement. I’ve never had to work so hard in a class to barely be able to scrape by with a B or B+. I’ve failed tests, I’ve completely aced tests, I’ve miserably failed tests, but I still managed to keep my head up. I knew that I just had to keep trying and keep working because the end of the class was in sight. If you are anything like me, it gets to the point where you are counting down the weeks and days until you are finally done with stats.
Learn to budget and how to stick to it
The number of people that have told me they just kind of wing their budget make me cringe. You realize that the tall caramel macchiato everyday adds up to over $140 a month right? While if you’ve personally budgeted for that it’s completely fine, but if that comes as a surprise to you maybe it’s time to track your spending a little more closely. You can definitely still budget for fun things like Starbucks and Noodles, but do it knowing you can still pay for your rent, utilities, and gas for your car.
You can’t do everything
At my university there are over 700 organizations to choose from. 700. It’s not uncommon to run into people who think that they can juggle seven very demanding organizations at once. While it might be something some people can manage, it can wear down even the most Type-A people out there. Know that you need to have time for yourself and time for your friends. While there will be busy times in life (hello 3 tests in one day), at least have a schedule that will allow for a little down time after the busy has subsided.
Don’t do something just to add it to your resume
This kind of feeds off of the point above, but you should never join something just because it could potentially look good on your resume in the future. If it’s an organization that you love and have passion for, absolutely go for it and do it. But if you are dragging your feet to go to organization meetings and find yourself making tomorrow’s to-do list during the Monday night meeting, it might be something you need to drop. It simply isn’t worth sticking with things if you aren’t enjoying it.
Buy the Nemo and Dory pencil case
It doesn’t even have to be Nemo and Dory and it doesn’t even need to be a pencil case. Maybe it’s a lunchbox, a pencil pack, or even a backpack. Whatever it is, even if it has characters, buy it. I felt like a kid in a candy store when my mom took me to Target to buy school supplies and I spotted the Nemo and Dory pencil pouches. I honestly walked out with both pouches and at the time of writing this I am almost 21 years old. It’s the last time in life that we can have fun school supplies because I can almost guarantee that (sadly) Nemo won’t be office appropriate.
Start building your professional wardrobe
Maybe I’m the only person who has been watching how business women dress since the age of 5, but I excitedly jumped into the opportunity of buying professional pieces when the occasion came up. I’ve bought my 3 piece suit, I have three different colors of pants, I have another fun jacket, I’ve bought several blouses, I have a few button ups, I have some nice pencil skirts, and I’ve bought a few basic shells to wear under a blazer. Don’t even get me started on the shoes that I’ve purchased to go with my clothes. While there is much more expanding that I can do, as a college student I have myself set at the moment.
A rejection letter isn’t the end of the world
In the fall I interviewed to join a business fraternity. I was sure that I was a shoe-in so I only interviewed for one fraternity. I definitely messed up with that decision and got a rejection letter a few days after my interview. I had never really gotten a true rejection letter before that unless you count the retail stores that never called me since I was too young to work at them freshman year of high school. The letter got to me and I ended up not even interviewing for it my second semester. I completely regret that and plan to interview for several business fraternities my first semester of junior year.
Introduce yourself to your core professors
I go to a fairly large university and by fairly large I mean it’s not uncommon to have multiple 500 person lecture classes. In classes that large, it’s pretty hard for your professor to know you by name. Once you’ve been accepted into your program and finally get to take more classes geared towards your major you will notice that you have several of the same professors over and over again. This is your chance to introduce yourself so that you have someone to go to should anything come up. Say you need a recommendation from a professor. Who will you go to if none of your professors know who you are?
It’s okay to change your major
Towards the beginning of my sophomore year I listened as one of my friends told me that she felt she had chosen the completely wrong major for herself. She felt stuck and like there was no going back since she had already made it a year in. In all honesty, she wasn’t stuck. There was plenty of opportunity for her to be able to go back and rethink what she wanted to do, especially with a year of experience under her belt. Personally, I think it might have been the perfect time for her to make that decision considering she had been able to spend a whole year at college and experience different classes and figure out what she wanted to do.
Going out doesn’t have to define you, but still go out and have fun
This point on the post might highlight the fact that I go to a major party school, but just work with me here. A lot of people only see you as a “dedicated party person” when they see you out at the bars Monday-Thursday with Friday-Saturday nights just being considered “regular”. Personally, I have way too much going on to be able to go out on a true school night, but I do look forward to going out on Friday and Saturday nights since I will finally be 21 at the beginning of my junior year.
Use a planner
During my second semester of sophomore year one of the boys didn’t use a planner at all. He would simply roam the hallway looking for someone in that stats class to keep him up to date on when the homework was due, when the tests were, and when quizzes would be. He honestly didn’t know that a test was going to happen until the day of the test. While not everyone who doesn’t use a planner will be as disorganized as this boy, it does go to show how much you may not know about. It wouldn’t be one of my blog posts if I didn’t stress getting a planner and using it.
Consider becoming an RA
While I’ve never been an RA on a college campus, I was a community assistant at my apartment complex off campus. While my community assistant job was nowhere near as demanding as the job of a RA, it was a very good job for me to have. It taught me how to work on the fly for things that I am not trained on and to appreciate a normal 9-5 job because I served on-call shifts which meant I could get a phone call anywhere between 8pm and 9am.
So I’m curious, what did you learn this previous year from college? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!