You have survived the freshman year, but the stakes change when your college student knows the routine.
Sophomore year is the time for your college student to get serious. Serious about the future. Yes, it may be a few years away before a job is secured and true independence starts, but a foundation needs to be laid at this stage for later success.
Here are a few tips from Beyond The U to help launch your college student to independence and success:
- Texting: It has become all too easy to text your college student, or for your college student to text you. What may seem like a crisis text could just be sophomore panic when facing uncertainty. Though it is natural to want to swoop in to save the day, students need to learn to handle stress and problem-solving on their own in order to learn how to navigate problems as adults. It is best to be supportive by actively listening, but let the chips fall where they may as your college student works to solve their problems independently. You will be surprised at how resourceful a sophomore can be when necessary.
- Keeping in touch: Find ways to keep in touch on a regular basis without being intrusive, and don’t always expect a detailed response. Sometimes you just want to know your college student is still breathing! A great way to stay in touch is to send a short video of something happening at home via messenger or the student’s favorite social media. It could be the cat sleeping on their bed or a quick Dubsmash made by a parent. This can bring a welcome smile to the student’s face and will elicit a quick emoji, letting you know all is well.
- Visiting: A great way to take your sophomore’s pulse is by scheduling a visit. Make sure you arrange this ahead of time, and don’t make it a surprise, which can set a negative tone immediately. Plan to take your college student to dinner, and if you can afford it, offer to have a friend or two come along, as you will get a good picture of how your student is settling in socially. At dinner, asking what’s currently the hot topic on campus can open the conversation to their daily lives and concerns.
- Studying abroad: Sophomore year is when students begin to consider studying abroad. Ask your college student if they are interested and what programs are available. If there is interest, ask how they see the experience shaping what they may want to do in the future. This is a great segue to finding out what career path your college student is considering without asking the stressful question, “what career are you planning?” If the student gives you an answer that seems to make sense, you can suggest they visit the campus career center to see what options there might be to tie in the study abroad experience with future internships, research, or summer jobs. This can jumpstart the thought process for the college student that all of these experiences, if thoughtfully chosen and connected, can lead to a great foundation for job-hunting in the future.
- Sophomore slump: The winter holiday of sophomore year is the most common time for a college student to consider transferring. They have made friends, are seeing what foundation courses they will need for their major, are getting tired of dining hall food, and the excitement of freshman year has dwindled. You may hear rumblings about looking at other schools, but this is also the time to have the study abroad conversation. Helping your student see that there are still interesting and engaging things ahead may pull the student through the immediate sense of boredom. Don’t make demands about staying at the present college, but also don’t give in easily to what, in most cases, is a temporary slump.
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” – Ann Landers