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Sophomore year struggles not unique

The so-called sophomore slump, along with the dreaded “Freshman 15,” and the fight against the status of “super senior” is a part of college life that frightens students. Is there, however, a bigger problem for sophomores than there is for any other year in college?

On the surface, it would make sense that a sophomore would have difficulty working through the second year. As freshmen acclimate to the instability of college life, they tend to go one of two ways, Kyle Ireland, director of Student Support Services said.

Ireland, whose walls are studded with Baseball heroes and whose desk is meticulously kept, adopted an assured tone when addressing the question of the Slump, “You know, I don’t think I could say that I’ve seen a significant amount of students decline in their sophomore year.”

“You’re either going to thrive even more, or you’re going to go the other direction where it was difficult as a freshman and now you’re struggling even more because of these more difficult classes,” Ireland said.

Ireland made the qualification that his experience is anecdotal, though that experience is plentiful. Ireland has acted as resident director for Olivet Nazarene University, as a professor teaching intermediate algebra and finally as the director of Student Support Services on campus.

Statistics would seem to agree with Ireland. In a study done in 2013 by Ruffalo Noel Levitz, (a consulting group dedicated to gathering data relevant to colleges, universities and non- profits), reported that a quarter of second-year students surveyed felt energized by the classes “The numbers between these groups I haven’t seen as statistically different, but the problems themselves are that they were taking, and a third felt as though they had no home or place where they were.

Tim Dinger, director of the counseling center on campus, agreed with the data, but said that the problems were not unique to the sophomore year. “Here’s some data; most of the people served by the counseling center are freshmen and seniors, and there’s a similar trend between sophomores and juniors.
“The numbers between these groups I haven’t seen as statistically different, but the problems themselves are different,” Dinger said. “There’s not a significant number of sophomores that differ from those other classes. If I just look at my census data, I wouldn’t say that the sophomores are unique among people who need help.”

“The freshness and enthusiasm of the freshman year is over and before them is much work to be accomplished. Moreover, the urgency to have a major is looming and the student’s sense of calling may not be well defined. Plus many of the acquaintances made over the previous year often do not mature into what students often think of becoming their close friends,” Dinger said.

Dinger described the major issue that each year faces. Freshmen are thrown into a new and hectic environment. Sophomores are trying to find themselves. Juniors are heavy laden with work and responsibility, and seniors are being forced to look to a future they could not be sure of. “The context is different, but there are a lot of the same questions.” Dinger said with certainty.