Freshman year of high school is a time of discovery. Students can explore a new campus, meet new teachers, and make new friends. However, by the time sophomore year rolls around, the excitement fades. This is the sophomore slump.
Students settle into a routine of studying, coursework, and extracurricular activities. Each class blurs into the next and counselors begin asking students what they want to do with their lives. Students understand their grades are important for college but can’t seem to focus on their coursework.
Students know they should start looking into potential college options but have no motivation. They may cut back on their extracurricular activities or feel less motivated to keep up with coursework. In the thick of sophomore year, college feels like nothing more than a pipe dream.
In reality, sophomore year is the perfect time to start laying a strong foundation for their college applications. Thankfully, once students realize they’re in a slump, they can take steps to overcome it.
What is the Sophomore Slump in High School?
Sophomore slump refers to the lack of motivation students experience during their sophomore year. Students may become frustrated with classes, stress about the future, or generally feel underwhelmed. Instead of being swept away by the potential of high school, sophomores already know what to expect.
Although a slump can occur at any time, it commonly occurs during the second year of high school. Sophomore slump occurs because of multiple outside factors. Students may be exhausted from the expectations of their teachers and trying to establish new peer relationships.
Regardless of how the slump begins, it takes a toll on a student’s motivation and performance.
What Should a Sophomore in High School be Doing?
Sophomore year is a great time to explore existing hobbies and how they may turn into career paths. This can provide direction for potential majors and guide students during their college search. Creating a college list can provide a concrete academic goal for students to work toward during their junior year.
Having a college list and researching their requirements gives sophomores a score to aim for on standardized tests. Students can also begin developing relationships with their teachers and coaches. This can lay a strong foundation for recommendation letters students may need for scholarships or college applications.
Taking an advanced placement (AP®) or honors class can help students improve their writing skills and expand their vocabulary. Sophomore year is also an excellent time for students to begin getting involved in extracurricular activities. This gives students time to gain confidence in themselves and provides leadership opportunities
During sophomore year, students should make time for self-care. Physical and mental health can suffer when everything is focused on future achievement.
Signs of the Sophomore Slump
Before students can overcome the slump, they must identify they’re in a slump. While some signs, such as dropping grades, are easy to identify, others are more subtle. Some signs of the sophomore slump include:
- A loss of motivation. This may appear as skipping class, declining grades, or stopping extracurricular activities students have participated in since freshman year.
- General disappointment in the high school experience. Students feel underwhelmed by classes, instructors, and being a high school student. They may be tired of forming relationships with peers, instructors, mentors, and frustrated by academics.
- Anxiety about the future. Students may feel stuck or like nothing they do matters. They may feel pressured to take advanced classes, unsure what they want to do with their lives, or how to begin their college hunt.
Students may not display all of these signs. Some students may simply feel bored with high school while others are overwhelmed at the thought of the future. It’s important for parents to regularly communicate with their student, so they can monitor changes in their behavior or attitude.
This can help parents intervene and help their student get back on the right track.
How to Get Back On Track
Once students notice they’re in a sophomore slump, they should reach out to parents or counselors. An outside perspective can help students get back on the right track.
Talk to Parents
Students who feel unmotivated and have parental support should start their journey at home. They’ll have access to resources to address physical and mental concerns.
Use School Resources
School counselors or teachers are great resources because they’re trained to give academic and emotional guidance. They have ample experience dealing with students in a slump and can help students work through it. Often, they’re sympathetic and can help.
Even if a student’s grades have taken a turn for the worse, they have time to improve them.
Making goals and moving toward them may help a student come out of their slump. These could be personal, academic, or extracurricular aspirations.
Try Something New
Once out of the doldrums, look for ways to stay engaged in learning. Get involved in leadership opportunities that require a bit more focus. Students should also remember high school is a time for personal and academic growth.
Sophomore year is a great time for exploration. Students can participate in volunteer opportunities or join extracurricular activities based on their interests. We recommend students experiment with clubs they may stick with in the long run.
Bouncing between random clubs may appear unfocused to potential colleges.
Advice for High School Sophomores
Sophomore year is the perfect time to start laying the groundwork for a strong college application. To get a head start on their application and avoid sophomore slump, sophomores should:
Meet with a School Counselor
Sophomores should schedule an appointment with their school counselor. Together, they can discuss college goals and assess whether course selections support them. School counselors can help students create a game plan and regularly check in on their progress.
Having someone to hold a student accountable could help spark their motivation.
Enhance Their GPA
Students should consider taking a more rigorous courseload. AP and honors classes add extra weight to a student’s GPA, and demonstrate a student’s commitment to their education. If possible, students should enroll in classes related to their interests.
Plan for College
Sophomores should begin researching schools aligned with their academic goals and make a short list. Then, on breaks, make trips to scope them out. Even if it’s just to see the campus and shake some hands, it’s a valuable experience.
College-bound students may also want to take advantage of ACT and SAT prep courses. According to the College Board, six to eight hours of SAT test prep can improve scores up to 90 points. Enrolling for 20 hours or more can result in a jump of 115 points.
While it’s important to work toward academic goals, studying all day is impossible. Students should find ways to explore interests and passions that bring them personal satisfaction. These become excellent stories and experiences for college essays in a few years.
Students entering the tenth grade have a lot on their minds. Social and academic pressures can harm their sense of focus and well-being. If the sophomore slump takes hold, we’ve got some great ideas about how to recover.
With the right resources, students can stop worrying and enjoy their sophomore year!
At C2 Education, our tutoring and college prep resources can help students get back on track. With expert instructors and specialized programs, we support students who need extra help realizing their potential.
Reach out to your local center today to schedule a consultation!