Tag Archives: college

feeling sophomore slumped? you’re not alone

I threw up the day I had to leave campus and return home at the end of my freshmen year. I didn’t want to leave my college bubble and had actually avoided going home that entire year. I left freshman year feeling accomplished both academically and socially. Once I returned to Austin for year two, I figured this feeling of excitement and community would return. I’d be ready to work harder, make more connections and more memories. 

The minute I returned to campus something felt off. I felt drained before the year even began, but blamed it on the nerves of beginning a new school year in person. Weeks of classes went by yet something still felt wrong. I wasn’t motivated, deadlines passed without submission, talks of the wonderful internships I could soon apply for filled me with dread, I withdrew from friends, and walks to my beloved turtle pond didn’t excite me as they used to. I started longing to go back home. Even the tower, which was once a landmark representing success and anticipation to me, became just another building. I didn’t know why I felt this way until I came across the phenomenon known as “the sophomore slump.”

Though it has many components, and everyone feels it differently, the sophomore slump is a period of disconnection from college life for second-year students. The excitement of independence and “firsts” from freshman year has worn off and you’re left feeling dejected. Students find it hard to maintain their college enthusiasm and live up to the academic and social successes of year one. They may feel emotionally detached from their college towns, pressured to declare a major and make big career decisions, or confused on what they want out of the ‘college experience’ overall. 

Second year journalism student Ileana Fernandez agreed that there’s a “slump in the air”.

“My school work has been piling on and it seems I can never catch a break,” Fernandez said. “A two-day weekend is barely enough time to catch my breath. Balancing my job and academics while still attempting to have somewhat of a social life drains me. To be honest I’m just trying to make it through the week, every week, again and again.”

Especially after the pandemic hindered the normalcy of freshman year for the class of 2024, many students came into sophomore year without social groups or familiarity with the campus. Fernandez and sophomore Daja Dansby both stayed home last year. While many classes are still online this semester, Dansby said zoom learning can make school feel non-existent. 

“When you learn online it’s so easy to pretend like school doesn’t exist. Like the black boxes on zoom aren’t real people, and like you aren’t really working towards anything,” she said.

“I didn’t know the sophomore slump was a thing until recently,” Dansby added. “I think the fact that we all lost a year to COVID has a lot to do with our collective lack of motivation. This stage in our lives is just a difficult one. We’re away from our friends and family for the first time, we’re messing up and learning lessons, losing friends and making more; we’re experiencing everything that comes with entering young adulthood. Pair that with living during a pandemic alongside the pressure of still needing to strive and succeed. It’s a lot, I’m not surprised we’re all going through it.”

There’s no vaccine for this illness ailing the sophomore class. This phenomenon of collective unmotivation is felt so widely by a myriad of students that it was given its own name. It’s important to remember that the sophomore slump is, indeed, collective. It’s not new and it’s felt by students everywhere. College combined with figuring out who you are as a person, and what you want in life is overwhelming; burnout is inevitable at one point or another. Learning how to cope can be difficult. There’s always hobbies to relieve yourself like podcasts, painting, journaling or exercising, but counseling is also a viable resource. Appointments can be booked at the CMHC to get whatever you need off your chest.  This is a battle not fought alone.

“To anyone feeling the same way, please know that there’s nothing wrong with you,” Dansby said. “You aren’t behind, you aren’t dumb. College is just hard. It’s okay to mess up and get stuck in slumps, it happens to everyone. You’re learning, which is what we’re all here for. You’ll get where you need to be eventually. Be gentle with yourself.”

Featured Image by Tara Phipps

A Piano for Your Thoughts: Study Playlist

By now, most of us have found ourselves in the lobby of our dorm, fully absorbed with our homework, when someone starts banging on the piano and disrupts our concentration. The problem isn’t the piano itself. I, personally, really enjoy the sound of a piano, but not when it’s being played like a punching bag. 

With this playlist, you can enjoy the relaxing sounds of the piano while you write essays, read a book or take a stroll around campus. Enjoy!

Featured image by Bettina Mateo

The *notion* of staying organized: how to effectively manage your time

If you had an existential crisis surrounded by piles of papers during midterm season, chances are you weren’t the only one. In light of the many projects and tests, students were forced to confront their pre-existing organizational habits. If your current strategies aren’t working for you, here are some tips for how to get organized for the second half of the semester. 

There’s no feeling quite like checking off a box on a to-do list, so I use multiple different organizational tools including a bullet journal, a calendar and notion. To standardize my organizational process I’ll start each semester by making a key so that each class has an assigned color. 

As soon as I receive my course syllabi, I write down all of my assignments on a wall calendar on the day they are due so I have a general sense of assignments. To avoid clutter, I write “exam” or “paper” in the prescribed subject color without adding other details. I keep the current month’s and next month’s calendar on my wall so that I can easily access them to see any upcoming assignments. 

When looking at my calendar, I typically start to put assignments on my radar about three weeks before they’re due. When I notice something coming up, I’ll review the instructions on canvas to see exactly what the project entails. Depending on the assignment, I’ll allocate more or less time to work on or prepare for it. For example, I started working on my French midterm well over three weeks in advance, whereas I can complete some of my communications assignments the day before they’re due. 

I’m the kind of person who likes to work on assignments a little bit per day and write multiple drafts of a paper before finally being satisfied, so I always find starting assignments earlier than necessary is helpful. With these upcoming assignments, I’ll start to put aside time to work on them. typically 15 to 30 minutes a day at first, and then larger chunks of time closer to the due date. That way, I won’t have an entire paper to do the day before the due date.

If you have a class in which you do multiple of the same type of assignment, as the semester progresses, you can use your previous experience to determine how much time you’ll realistically need to complete the assignment. For example, in my UGS class we have three research assignments, so for the second one I was able to better gauge how much time it’d take me to finish it. 

For repetitive events like weekly quizzes, I find it helps me to set up a specific time each week to study so that I don’t forget and can also set aside the optimal time to study. For my biology quizzes Thursday morning, I always study Wednesday nights so that the material is fresher in my mind. 

Every Sunday evening, I’ll transfer events from my calendar to my notion page, which I find is a helpful organizational tool. I’ll add any due dates or assignments with time stamps, as well as any other meetings or plans. 

Keeping all of my due dates in one place gives me a good sense of how my week is going to go. Under the events of each day I keep a to-do list. I generally add items onto the to-do list the day of or the night before, because writing things down helps set my intentions for the day.

I tend to do more concrete homework, such as readings, the night after class. Getting ahead on readings ends up confusing me, particularly for classes that have reading quizzes, which is why I do them right after they’re assigned. Most of my classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I typically spend Monday and Wednesday nights doing homework for those classes. Because I have more free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I devote time to projects and essays. 

On days where I’m working on more projects, I’ll seperate my time into different chunks so that I don’t get too invested in one project. I’m the kind of person who’ll finish an assignment a month before it’s due to procrastinate studying for a quiz, so I found that these time chunks allow me to balance doing what I like and prioritizing work. When scheduling time, sometimes I have to readjust, which is okay! If I have reading that has to get done, I’ll finish it regardless of if it runs over time, but if I’m working on an essay due in a couple of weeks, I’ll stop after the allotted time. 

Although staying organized is helpful in the long run, being proactive can lead to overworking yourself or burn-out if you’re not careful. Make sure that you’re taking time for self-care, and giving yourself breaks and time to have fun! 

While these tips have helped me stay organized my first semester of college, certain strategies will work better for different people. Knowing your assignments and when they’re due is the most important thing — from there you can decide how you want to tackle working on them. Whether with a calendar, sticky-notes or other organizational tools, it’s never too late to get organized!

Featured image by Alyssa Lindblom 

To Sleep or not to sleep

We’re all guilty of scrolling mindlessly on TikTok at 2:00 a.m., and if you say you’re not, you’re lying.

We know it’s not good for us, we know we have class in the morning (some of you are unlucky and have 8:00 a.m. classes, ew) and yet we do nothing to stop it. Maybe you try to set your bedtime to 10:00 p.m., but how many times have you tried to do that? More than once, I bet. So, why do we do it?

 What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is a response to feeling like you lacked leisure time throughout the day. That response leads to staying up late at night despite knowing the consequences you’ll encounter the next day, taking “revenge” on daytime hours. People enjoy immediately-gratifying activities, like watching TV, which makes it easy to choose that over proper rest. The concept originates from the Chinese expression, 報復性熬夜 (bàofù xìng áoyè), which roughly translates to revenge bedtime procrastination, and has resonated with many people worldwide. Students may find themselves experiencing revenge bedtime procrastination to the point where it’s not even a bad habit. Instead, it’s a part of their lifestyle.

Why is sleep so important anyway?

Dr. Patricia Carter, a University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing Associate Professor and healthcare professional, hosted a university lecture series in Spring of 2019 called “Sleeping Your Way to Academic Success,” in which she broke down the effects of a well-rested mind, the consequences of a sleep-deprived brain and the different types of sleep. Dr. Carter focuses on how sleeping habits affect academic performance, and memory.

But you can just pull an all-nighter tonight and sleep-in tomorrow, right? Wrong! Not sleeping decreases focus and attention and weakens our memory.

Dr. Carter pointed out “sleep deprivation… impaired learning as much as 40% even after two ‘recovery’ nights.” Recovery nights are the nights you try to ‘fix’ your sleep schedule after breaking away from it. Now you can blame your failed midterms on that all-nighter you pulled before the exam.

That means my naps are useless, right?

Wrong again, get it together! A good 20-minute power nap will give you 12 hours of increased functionality compared to not napping. One nap and one night of sleep are equal to the improvement seen after two nights of sleep.

However, make sure your naps aren’t too long or too short. A 45-minute nap is too long and makes waking up harder since you’re right in the middle of a deep sleep, but 60-90 minutes is a good amount of time because it’s closer to a full-sleep cycle.

Basically, the next time your alarm wakes you up 45 minutes into your nap, ignore it and go back to sleep for another 15-30 minutes. Send your professor this article if need be.

How do I stop?

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. If you previously said you’ve never scrolled mindlessly on TikTok at 2:00 a.m., now is the time to tell the truth.

All jokes aside, here’s what Dr. Carter suggested:

  • Turn your blue-light devices off
  • Find your optimal sleep time, which is the amount of sleep you get when you wake up naturally and feel refreshed. I literally cannot remember what that feels like, but I know it feels good.
  • No caffeine after 3:00 p.m. (I’m the exception though)
  • Get eight to ten hours of sleep, and nap if you don’t get enough sleep
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room with minimal noise
  • Stay consistent with your sleep schedule
  • Exercise in the morning

Revenge bedtime procrastination is counterproductive. While you’re gaining satisfaction from the activity you are performing, that satisfaction only lasts so long before you begin to feel the negative effects. Take some time to look at what things stress you out the most and address them. Learn to manage your time and prioritize sleep. Although it isn’t on purpose, revenge sleep procrastination is a structure we’ve individually created in our lives that’s preventing us from succeeding.

We’ve all wished we could’ve had those five extra minutes of sleep. Give yourself the time and grace you need to unlearn the behaviors associated with this phenomenon. Next time it comes to the question of whether to sleep or not to sleep, choose sleep.

Featured Image By Bettina Mateo

Hugs and Human Connection

Family therapist Virginia Satir says “We need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth.” As a freshman on campus this year in the midst of a global pandemic, I have been struggling to navigate the new obstacles to physical and emotional human connection. I find that getting even one hug in on a normal day is difficult, especially because of the added barriers due to the pandemic. I mean, I can’t be the only one seeing all the signs that recommend elbow taps and the hook’em horns hand sign over hugs and handshakes.

After less than two months on the UT campus, I haven’t even known anyone long enough to consider them one of my close friends, let alone long enough to get 12 hugs a day out of them. Besides, in light of our current situation it’s a real struggle to figure out everyone’s physical boundaries.

Unfortunately, especially for those of us that are introverted homebodies, human connection is essential to our existence as people. Connecting with other people has proven benefits: improving mental and physical health. This includes lower rates of depression and anxiety, increased ability to regulate emotions and greater life expectancy. In addition, it helps foster a sense of support, community and purpose.

Even if we’re not all able to meet Virginia Satir’s recommended average of eight hugs a day, I believe there are other ways to fulfill our need for human connection. It is not measured by how many friends you have, how often you go out or the amount of organizations you’re in. 

You can find human connection by sharing a laugh with the person who made your morning coffee or smiling at a stranger on your daily walk to class. Human connection is all about finding meaningful moments with other people that make you feel good on the inside. 

Whether it’s giving yourself a hug every morning, buying your roommate a coffee to put a smile on their face or calling your family every once and a while, the benefits that come from real human connection will never diminish.