10 Things I Learned During My Sophomore Year of College

Tuesday, May 16, 2017, by Kashay Webb

I cannot believe that after my presentation tomorrow, my sophomore year of college will be over. Sometimes it feels as though I just walked into the doors of my university. As time flies, it is important to reflect on the chapters of your life as they come and go. Today I will be continuing my series of things I learned during each year of college. You can check out my “15 Things I Learned During My First Year of College” post here. Well, here we go 😊

1. Building Relationships
As I was completing internship, scholarship, and study abroad applications this year, I noticed how many recommendations are required. Overall, I have asked for and received letters of recommendations from six of my professors/mentors (and sometimes two or three letters from the same person). The thing about letters of recommendation is the person writing it must know you very well in order to attest to your qualifications. This is generally not Dr. Fill in the Blank who only sees you three times a week for lecture. The writers are those who you have built relationships with outside of the classroom. Remember when I talked about professor relations in last year’s post? This year what the perfect time to apply that advice.
2.  Summer Breaks Are Not Play Time Anymore
I used to spend my summers doing things like fun summer jobs, hanging out with friends, and binge watching my favorite tv shows. It’s not that I can’t do those things anymore, but summers during college are useful for internships, studying abroad (I'm so happy to be going to Peru! :) ), and taking classes that may not fit during the Fall and Spring semesters. This isn’t to say that summer won’t be fun anymore, but there has to be a balance between work and play if you’re serious about your development during college.
3. Planning
I have two majors and I will be applying to grad school in a couple of years. I do not have the luxury of not planning for the future. Even if this is not your situation, it is better to be safe than sorry. What’s the harm in considering your options after graduation? It could save a lot of time, money, and stress in the future. Let’s say you want to become a Physician Assistant after undergrad. You then find out in senior year that you needed 2 more prerequisite courses, shadowing hours, and direct patient care experience to apply to PA school. A little planning would have helped, right?
4. Take a Break
We all want to be that person that can plow through hours and hours of studying and homework, nonstop. Sometimes it happens, other times it does not. Trust me, it’s okay. It’s alright to take a break and maybe make some tea or watch the video your favorite Youtuber just uploaded. Sometimes we just need to be kind to ourselves and recharge. The important thing to remember is don’t take a break to watch an episode of a show and end up watching the entire season.
5.  Health
A sort of related topic is health. Time really flies when you are in the midst of the semester. Sometimes unhealthy habits can form because of this. You started out drinking one cup of coffee a day and now you are at three. That “one time” all-nighter turned into every night and that bag of Doritos on the way to class just became your daily lunch. It is important to realize that just because these habits are often associated with college students, they don’t have to be. You can be healthy in college, it just may take a little more preparation. Maybe instead of more coffee, you can go to bed earlier to avoid midday fatigue. Instead of pulling all-nighters, you can schedule out your days to maximize productivity and rest. Doritos don’t have to be your lunch if you make an effort to get to the dining hall at lunch time or pack lunch in the morning. I personally meal prep for the entire week; it saves a lot of time and I can avoid convenient, but unhealthy food choices.
6. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
I believe that life is best lived when you push yourself to grow. College is the perfect place for growth. There are so many resources and people to help you along the way. It is also the perfect environment to experiment and understand yourself better. It is scary to step outside of what we are comfortable with. After all, it is the unknown. Although it is scary at times, I have learned the most about myself by stepping outside of my comfort zone. You will never know, unless you try.
7. This is Your Life
How many people by now have told you what you should or should not be doing? The truth is, everyone lives quite a unique life and what works for one person just does not always work out the same for someone else. It has been important this year to balance sound advice with making my own decisions and my own path. You know yourself better than anyone and you have to live in your world for the rest of your life. Don’t let what other people are doing or advising you to do dictate your path. Respect your autonomy.
8. Get Involved
Even at my small school, there is so much to do and ways to get involved on campus. There is a club/ organization for all interests in college and routes to make your own club if nothing grabs your attention. Sometimes an outlet is needed after strictly academic obligations. This is another way to really make the most of your college experience.
9.  Develop Holistically
In addition to academics and clubs/organizations, there are other aspects of self that would be useful to develop during college. Some of my developments this year included professionalism, spiritual development, linguistics, and leadership. These years are supposed to be about education, but there are so many things out there to become educated in.
10. Studying
Last year I talked about study groups, but this time is about your personal studying techniques. This was the year to hone in on the type of learner I am (which is visual) and make that work for me while studying. Everything cannot be learned visually, but I adapt the material for my needs. My science courses work well with the type of learner I am. I can review figures, watch videos, make flashcards, etc. There’s a free software program called Anki that allows you to make flashcards and set parameters for the number of times you are shown the flashcard. I like this program because it is on my computer and I can copy and paste diagrams instead of drawing them by hand. For my other courses, such as philosophy, I have to be flexible. I tend to read and take notes, but then draw pictures or diagrams that summarize concepts in a condensed manner.