As the spring semester and the 2011-12 academic year come to a close, Loyola’s first-year students are celebrating the successful completion of their first year of college, including surviving all the ups and downs associated with the transition from high school. Although both you and your student now have one year of college behind you, the second-year experience presents different opportunities and challenges. What some often do not realize immediately is the transition from first year to sophomore year can present similar, if not more significant, changes.
Sophomore year is a time when students are faced with a number of critical decisions, such as “What do I want to major in?” and “Should I study abroad?” They may also struggle with answering “big” questions, like “Who am I?” or “Who do I want to become?”
As your first-year student prepares to return home for the summer, here are a few highlights and talking points around common concerns and challenges that some students experience sophomore year at Loyola. Consider discussing these with your student to assist her or him in preparing for this next transition.
• Choosing a Major – By the end of the fall semester of sophomore year, students must declare their majors. The decision to change or commit to a major can be very stressful. Encourage your student to explore different majors by examining his or her gifts and talents, reflecting on his or her sources of joy, reviewing major and career options with a career advisor in The Career Center, and/or discussing academic requirements and classes with an academic advisor. If your student is ready to declare his or her major, make sure he or she visits theAcademic Advising and Support Center to complete the appropriate paperwork.
• Study Abroad – The decision to go abroad or stay at Loyola junior year can be very challenging for students, as they must consider how it relates to both their personal and academic goals. The deadline to apply to go abroad in the fall of 2013 or spring of 2014 is Dec. 1, 2012. While about 60 percent of Loyola students choose to go abroad, sophomores often believe everyone goes abroad and so do not consider the option of staying. Before discussing with your student where they might go abroad, talk with them about why they are interested in going abroad and what they hope to gain from their college experience. If going abroad is the best option for your student, encourage him or her to attend study abroad information sessions sponsored by the office of international programs early in the fall semester to learn more about the different programs available.
• Roommates and Apartment Living – For most students, this is the first time they had the opportunity to choose their roommates. Keep in mind that sophomores choose their roommates as first-year students. Often times during the freshman year, students gravitate toward and spend time with people because of proximity and ease. Some relationships are based on the desire to fit in, not necessarily common values or interests. Therefore, conflicts may arise with roommates. Learning to live with three to five other people in one space can also be a new thing for many students. Talk with your student about what he or she values in a roommate, how to handle conflict and not just avoid it or move rooms, and what he or she already knows about him or herself from living with another person. Resident assistants (RAs) will also spend time helping students fill out roommate agreements, such as standards for the room, early in the fall, and are a great first resource for students when disagreements do occur.
• Getting Involved on Campus – If students have not already found their “niche” on campus in the form of a club, leadership position, service opportunity or other extracurricular activity, sophomore year is a great time to get more involved and invested in the campus community. Getting involved provides a great way for students to meet new people, connect to their passions and explore their purpose, understand how they can lend their gifts and talents to a community, and gain new skills and knowledge. Discuss with your student in what ways he or she hopes to get involved or is already involved on campus, and how he or she plans to balance these activities with academics and other responsibilities. You should also encourage your student to attend the Student Activities Fair the second week of fall semester.
Loyola recognizes the critical decisions and experiences that shape sophomore year, and offers a broad array of programs to challenge, mentor, and guide sophomores with these challenges and opportunities. Sophomore Initiatives provides activities throughout the year, on campus and off, to assist students in these areas and in developing stronger connections to the University community. Visit www.loyola.edu/sophomoreinitiatives to learn more about the variety of programs, including SophoMORE Week—a whole week of activities to provide an introduction to sophomore year—which takes place in September.