Second-year students feel pressure to perform

March 20, 2008

by Katherine Fuller

There is something is happening during many students’ second year of college. A worry bigger than gaining the infamous freshman 15. It is a fear of failure, a feeling of intensified pressure to reach adulthood and it can lead to the onset of depression. It’s called the “sophomore slump.”

Older students on campus have all experienced this period in their college career. Some made it through, but others just don’t have the determination. Tech faculty and staff are working hard to make this transition easier for all students.

Travis Napper, director of orientation, said, “During your first quarter, there’s so much going on, and there’s no shortage of things to do. Whether it’s going to football games or going Greek, you’re trying to find a place to belong.”

Napper continued, explaining his own experience as a freshman here at Tech.

“Spring was my toughest time. Maybe it was the classes I was taking or my teachers, but all the newness of college had worn off.”

Napper said this period between freshman and sophomore year is really the time to find your place and do something.

“Sometimes you can’t get into clubs or organizations until the spring of your freshman year. Then by sophomore year, you know what is going on and you get to help the new freshmen out.”

Although Napper was actively involved in many campus organizations during his years as an undergraduate, he said there are other ways to get involved during college.

“You don’t necessarily have to be involved to get a good experience. I didn’t want to miss class because of the social aspect of it. Try to find a core group in your major that you can find common ground with. Sometimes you have to stick it out to find that core group.”

Napper said another way to get involved is by attending events.

“There are so many activities to attend, like athletic events, concerts, even Midnight Magic, that give you a tie to the school.”

A new program was implemented this past year to encourage students from the time they begin college.

Linda Griffin, dean of student development, said, “The goal of the First-Year Experience is to help first year students persist and to help them get to sophomore year.”

Griffin said students’ first perception of the university is during the first year and determines if they stay.

“This past year we held an academic convocation for freshmen the night before classes began,” Griffin said. “It gives the students an opportunity to understand the culture of Tech and reinforces the tenants we have established. Derek Dooley spoke this past year, and we plan to have a dynamic speaker each year.”

Griffin said other parts of the First-Year Experience include Living/Learning Communities in residence halls, parents’ newsletters, and an improvement to the University Seminar courses.

“Groups like engineering and ROTC have already implemented the Living/Learning communities in the residence halls and other colleges are eager to join this program as well.”

Norman Pumphrey, director of the Bulldog Achievement Resource Center, said, “The BARC provides resources allowing students to be successful.”

Pumphrey said BARC also provides tutoring in basic math and English courses, as well as other “killer courses” on campus.

“The First-Year Experience is part of BARC, but Student Affairs is a big part of it,” he said.

Griffin said there is plan of implementation of a Second-Year Experience for fall 2009.

Griffin said, “We want to help students persist and to encourage faculty to give the students a sense of belonging. Involvement is important. It gives students something to hang on to when they start to feel down.”

Griffin shared her advice with students:

“Whether the sophomore slump is a myth or not, much like the freshman 15, take steps to alleviate it. Get involved with leadership.”