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Strategies to Avoid Sophomore Slump in College

The conventional wisdom is that the hardest transition in college is freshman year—adjusting to a new campus, ramped-up academics, and the social scene. But now, there is a new concern dubbed the "the sophomore slump," and efforts are emerging to keep second-year students engaged and on track.

Some research suggests that 20 percent to 25 percent of second-year students experience dissatisfaction or disillusionment, often linked to feeling less support and attention from the school compared with their freshman year, according to Inside Higher Education's piece last week, "Dump the Slump."

Some colleges are developing programs especially for sophomores to reignite their passion for the school that they may have felt as newcomers. This year, Duke University held a sophomore convocation in the campus chapel complete with musical performances and inspiring speakers to talk student success. Other universities have sophomore celebrations and fairs to build community and connect second-year students with campus activities.

An article in U.S. News and World Report offers seven tips for overcoming the boredom and apathy associated with some sophomore students. Join a new club or intramural sports team. Find a volunteer opportunity of plan a study abroad adventure.

As colleges struggle to keep students returning and, eventually, graduating, these efforts are smart investments. Retention rates have been flat for years, and innovative approaches are needed to maintain student interest. (See story: "Unlocking Secrets to Student Retention" here.)

More schools are realizing that personalized attention and supports are needed beyond the freshman year to encourage students to progress. Although budgets are tight, addressing the sophomore slump may be a good move for colleges compared with the costs of students dropping out. High school counselors should also have this issue on their radar as they talk with students about what to expect in college and equip them with strategies to make it through to graduation.


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