6 Tips for Thriving in Your Sophomore Year of College

by Stephanie Thurrott

Sophomore year can take you by surprise! Everyone expects the first-year transition from high school to college to be a big change—and it is. But transitioning from the exploratory first year to a more focused sophomore year of college can be challenging too.

In your sophomore year, you’ll likely solidify your major and move into more concentrated, higher-level courses. You might still be searching for what most interests you, or you might find yourself drawn to so many areas that you’re not ready to narrow your options. You may even change your housing and find that changes in your friendships follow. This is all perfectly normal!

Laurie Schreiner, Ph.D., chair and professor of the Department of Higher Education at Azusa Pacific University, noted that sophomore year is a time for students to find their purpose, explore their pathways, and connect to people. “Sophomores succeed when they have a sense of purpose, they have their ‘person’ on campus who connects them to resources and information, and they are able to map out pathways for success,” she said.

Along with taking advantage of the support offered on campus, there are many things you can do to ensure you thrive during your sophomore year of college. Here are six tips to help:

1. Focus Your Extracurriculars

Your first year of college is your chance to try a little bit of everything and figure out what you like. As a sophomore, it’s time to be more selective.

Schreiner recommended that students choose an organization or campus activity and dive into it, rather than trying to be involved in everything. “Pick something that is connected to your major or a passion or interest you have, and commit to it,” she said.

2. Connect Regularly with Your Advisor

As a sophomore, you are in full control of your academic standing—so it’s important to map out pathways for your success. Now that you’re settling into a major and thinking more seriously about your career path, it’s time to build a plan for the classes, activities, and experiences that will prepare you for graduation (and a lifetime of fulfilling work).

3. Build Relationships with Faculty

It’s important to take advantage of opportunities to work with faculty or get to know them better, according to Schreiner. Try to get to know your professors as people, not just instructors. Make use of their office hours to build your academic strength and connect with professors on a personal level. You might just form lasting relationships that can lead to career opportunities!

4. Make Use of Campus Resources

During your first year of college, you were likely encouraged to connect with campus resources. During your sophomore year, you’ll have to take initiative and seek out assistance. A number of on-campus resources “won’t be handed to you as sophomores, but they are still there,” Schreiner said.

For instance, as an undergraduate student at APU, you can enjoy access to the Writing Center, the Academic Success Center, and other support services throughout your time on campus. Even if you didn’t take advantage of these resources as a freshman, you might find them helpful as a sophomore when the academic demands of your classes start to increase.

5. Look for Community Service and Study Away Opportunities

Your advisor can help you map out opportunities that mesh with your interests and schedule. To find additional options, you may want to connect with community service organizations in the surrounding area or study in another country! With your next few years in mind, now is the time to figure out whether a spring break, summer, or semester away is the best fit for your academic path.

6. Link Up with APUTWO

Another opportunity afforded to APU students specifically is the APUTWO program. This offering is designed to help sophomores transition from the hands-on support they received as freshmen to the independence they’ll need as juniors and seniors.

Schreiner noted that the program’s goal is to help students succeed in their sophomore year of college. “APUTWO exists to support sophomores and connect them to people and programs to help them thrive,” she said.

Are you interested in looking for the best ways to make the most of your time on campus? Check out Azusa Pacific University’s full list of student resources.