How to Break Out of the Sophomore Slump

Ginger Abbot

Nov 8, 2021

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College is challenging. Your courses prepare you for the future you want after you graduate, but sometimes, it can be difficult to look that far ahead. Obstacles might stand in your way throughout your four years in undergrad, sometimes pulling people into the “sophomore slump” — that feeling of hopelessness and apathy that often comes to students in their second year of college. You can fight back against the slump and any rut, though. You just need to know how to spot and fight it.

10 Easy Ways to Get Out of Your Rut

When you feel stuck in one place, you sometimes need a little nudge to find your way back on the right track. You can nudge yourself or rely on others to help you through the funk. Whatever the case, make sure you address the issues and defeat them so that you don’t have to stew in those negative feelings for too long.

1. Take a New Route to Class

If your daily routine has fallen into monotony, seek to change it. You may be used to walking one way to class. Set out a little earlier and find a new path to your destination. You might be surprised at what you observe along the way. Breaking out of your “autopilot” walk to class might help you appreciate new views and be more present in your daily life.

2. Plan a Spa Day

You don’t have to visit expensive places to pamper yourself. You can opt to have a self-care day by yourself or with your friends, no matter your budget. Make sure you take this day to relax and recuperate. Don’t focus on adding anything to a to-do list to accomplish — allow yourself to relax without worrying about deadlines. 

You could even consider your “pampering” to be a nap. Napping can help you refresh your mind and restore your body, so if you find yourself lacking in sleep lately, try a short rest. You might feel reinvigorated once you wake up, and restoring your sleep schedule could provide you lasting benefits that can pull you out of the sophomore slump.

3. Do Something Different

Sometimes, change is necessary. If your routine isn’t working for you, you should try something new. Examine what daily activities you dread. If you must do them, can you rearrange them to anywhere else in your day? 

For example, if showering in the morning leaves you rushed to get to class, consider moving your showers to just before bed. Switching up your routine might challenge your brain to think about your life in a new way — and it might be just the thing to pull you out of your rut.

4. Try a Class Outside Your Major

Feeling burnt out with classes? As a sophomore, you may not have gotten into too many courses for your major yet, but college is the time to try new things. If you find yourself bored by classes within your major, take an elective that’s nothing like your regular coursework. You may find that you love a new discipline, maybe enough to change your major or make it your minor.

75% of students change their major at least once before figuring out the right field. You’re likely only in your second year of college. You have time to change your major and still graduate within four years if that’s what you need to do. Find something that inspires you, something you’re passionate about, and chase that dream. 

5. Re-Evaluate Your Goals

Have you thought about what you’ll be doing after college? Do you plan to enter the workforce when you can, or would you rather continue your education? Over 40% of students attend grad school after obtaining their Bachelor’s degree, so you shouldn’t feel alone if you want to continue your education past your undergraduate years.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to approach your life after college. If you’re applying to graduate school, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Similarly, if you plan on looking for a job, make sure it’s because you want to find one, not because you don’t think you’re good enough for graduate school. You can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it.

6. Take More Breaks 

Pushing yourself to work hard every day isn’t great for you. Hopefully, you’re not studying from dusk until dawn without any breaks. Find a way to work breaks into your schedule. You can use these breaks for time to scroll social media or let distractions take over your brain for a short time. By taking enough breaks, you’ll keep your brain fresh and be more likely to avoid burnout.

7. Spend Time Outside

Have you been getting enough sunlight recently? If you’ve spent a lot of time indoors working, you may not be getting the sunlight you need to live a happy, healthy life. Getting outside can help lower your stress and anxiety levels. Even if you feel like you can’t make time for the outdoors every day, you can couple it with other activities like getting exercise or eating. Spending time in nature might bring you inspiration to pursue creative endeavors, too. 

8. Pick a “Homework-Free” Night

You shouldn’t spend every night of the week swamped with homework. You’re bound to have different due dates for all of your assignments, but that doesn’t mean you need to work yourself to the bone every night to complete them. 

Choose one night of the week where you’ll complete no homework. Once you know which days your assignments are due, you can plan out your no-homework day around your due dates and submit assignments early if necessary.

You might have to break away from the pattern sometimes, but it’s worth it to give yourself a break. You might consider making Friday or Sunday your “homework-free” night — that way, you can either enjoy the start of your weekend or minimize your stress before classes begin again on Monday. 

9. Ask for Help

You have plenty of resources around you that can help pull you out of the sophomore slump you’ve been feeling lately. You have advisors that can guide you on the next step of your journey, and you know that your friends and family will have your back. 

Rely on them to get through the days you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. You have a support system cheering you on. Even when you feel like you can’t make it through on your own, you have other people waiting to help you out with whatever you need.

10. Get Down to Your Roots 

Discover what makes you unhappy. You’re at a pivotal point in your life, and the next few years could determine the career path you take. If something fundamental is upsetting you, you need to get down to the root of it and change it. Whether you need to look into changing your major or living somewhere else, find out what’s holding you back from accomplishing your most important goals.

Once you know what’s holding you back, you can tackle the issue. Some problems might be a little more complicated to fix than others, but with enough diligence, you may start feeling like yourself again. Do what you need to do to eliminate the obstacles in the way of your success, and you’ll find yourself happier and grateful for it.

Stopping the Sophomore Slump in Its Tracks

It’s not easy to get past college — they’re the toughest four years of your academic career so far. Luckily, plenty of strategies can pull you out of the sophomore slump that typically plagues second-year college students. No matter how difficult college may seem, you can push through it and return to your studies more motivated than ever.

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