Sophomore Slump

My life seems to get messier as I enter my sophomore year in college—more challenging courses, more responsibilities in student clubs, time to make choices about majors, and most importantly, losing the privilege of being a freshman.

In my first year at Brown, I thought I had just launched a new life, and still had plenty of time to explore different possibilities on campus. However, everything no longer seems fresh to me now, and I am no longer the fresh face on campus. The lost of “freshness”, along with a whirl of schoolwork and activities, makes sophomore year a tougher time for me. My friends call such phenomenon as “sophomore slump”, which vividly describes a somewhat decline in the quality of life that a college sophomore experiences.

I know that many ways of my life are changing during my sophomore year and I’m probably not quick enough to adjust. This transition from freshman to sophomore is not as obvious as the one from high school to college, but for me, it is equally important, so I decide to take some time to reread my past diaries and blogs to see how fast my life has been changing.

In my first blog for ChinaPersonified two years ago right after I got accepted to Brown, I wrote about the my excitement to start a new life, about my open-mindedness to different opportunities, and about my confidence of being “undecided” about my major till sophomore year.

Well, now, sophomore year has finally arrived, and as much as I’d like to be undecided, I should at least have some idea about what I want to study and what kind of career and life I’d like to have. I begin to sequence my courses more carefully— taking Statistics in the Fall to fulfill the prerequisite of doing Econometrics in the Spring, keeping up with French speaking and writing in order to fulfill the study abroad requirement for next Fall, etc. Even though I’m still free to choose any courses, I can’t choose whatever sounds interesting to me without taking into account the requirements and other concerns—there is always a realistic side of even doing things that you like.

Many people say that as we get older, we become more realistic and less idealistic, and probably sophomore year is a time when I have to rethink the practicality of certain goals and how to achieve them besides daydreaming.

If I want to pursue a career in academia, how can I start preparing now? If I want to do Non-profit, what opportunities should I look into? I used to dislike the word “realistic” because I thought it undermines the beauty of idealism, but now I realize that being more pragmatic doesn’t necessarily conflict with pursuing ideals, and it might even be a necessary step towards achieving my goals. When you have a dream, you need to take real actions in order to approach it, not just talk about it.

As for me, dreams and reality come together into my sophomore year, which makes life tougher, but it might not be as bad as the word “slump” describes. It is just be a period of transition and I need to figure out ways to transform—taking real actions and getting hands-on experience—dreams into realities.

Fang, Beijing

Fang Guo

Fang is a senior at Brown University. You can contact Fang Guo at