The journey continues

Many students return to UCLA their second year with excitement about a fresh start. The first year of college can be a shock for many students, but the sophomore year is often a time for students to reconsider and recommit to their own education and development, and to begin to find their own voice. They do this with a deeper understanding of the demands of college (academic, extracurricular, personal, social), as well as of their own skills, abilities, interests and the support systems and study habits that work best for them.

While the second year is an energizing time, new challenges arise as well. In fact, second-year students often find themselves in the “sophomore slump,” typically a period of developmental confusion and transition. This sense of fatigue can result from a student’s struggle to become a competent college student, gain the autonomy and independence they seek, develop their new identities as adults and college students, all while trying to find their purpose in life.


The “Sophomore Slump” | What to Expect

Second-year Bruins often face a new set of challenges when starting off anew after an incredible first year.

Sophomores balance work, school and other activities, and some can over-commit and become temporarily overwhelmed. Some students might feel as if they cannot succeed in school after having a difficult first year. Relationships that formed during their first year mostly because of convenience and location tend to dissolve, and stronger and deeper ties develop – a development that takes time and energy. Additionally, with new living arrangements and classes, school may feel unfamiliar again. Students may express dissatisfaction with the college or the community (“It’s too big,” “I can’t connect,” etc.) and may even consider transferring to another college.

Some of the common challenges faced during the sophomore year are:

 Academic and career challenges

  • Pressure to pick a major in the face of parental pressure, doubts about their chosen career, and/or a lack of clear interests
  • Balancing schoolwork, a part-time job and other extracurricular commitments
  • Taking upper-level classes with juniors and seniors who may be substantially more academically advanced
  • Difficulty getting motivated or feeling as if their studies have no purpose
  • A rising need for students to take ownership of their education and career path

 Relational concerns

  • Changes in friendships and other relationships; students may question the relationships they have or feel as if they have no friends
  • Desire for intimacy increases; students may question their lack of intimate relationships
  • Friendship ties at home decrease
  • May be questioning relationships with parents and may not desire to go home on breaks

Personal and other concerns

  • Students may be questioning their identity, sexual orientation and values and may have uncertainty about the direction of their life (i.e. they don’t know who they are or what they want to be)
  • Guilt about the time and money gone into college when they are uncertain about the direction of their life


Support for Second-Year Students

How can I help? How can UCLA be there for my student?

Not every student will experience difficulty during the sophomore year, but many students will. Simply knowing that it is a normal stage and that they are not alone may help. As with the first-year transition, parents can help students adjust to and deal with the difficulties that may occur. Most students emerge from this year more mature, more focused, and more comfortable with themselves and their college experience.

If you need guidance in any of these areas, you can reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services, or our office, UCLA Office of Parent & Family Programs. Sometimes it just takes someone to point you and your student in the right direction.

Additionally, feel free to gently remind your Bruin of the supportive community surrounding them on campus. They can meet with a counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services, speak with an academic adviser, a Resident Assistant (RA) in their residence hall, professors and teaching assistants and – of course – friends.


Bruin Family Weekend (October)

Can second-year families still attend?

Yes! Our Parent & Family Weekend, in the middle of Fall Quarter, is an opportunity for all families to see students in their new community, learn more about the University’s curriculum and traditions, attend lectures and workshops, and ask questions about programs and services. You can meet the Chancellor, the deans, academic advisers and other faculty and staff that work with our undergraduates in their educational endeavors. You will discover more about your student’s life at the University as you participate in various receptions, open houses and information sessions.

While attendance is not mandatory, we hope that you will visit us in October to take a look inside UCLA, its beautiful buildings and scenic campus, as well as the academic life, resources, research and opportunities that shape your student’s college experience. Visit Bruin Family Weekend online to learn more.


Studying Abroad

The second-year is the ideal time to begin thinking about studying abroad.

While there is no right or wrong time to study abroad, UCLA students typically begin thinking about abroad opportunities during the second year – some even go abroad at some point during the second year! Planning and paperwork can take up to nine months, so definitely begin the process early.

Going abroad is a great way for your Bruin to explore the world and broaden their academic and personal horizons. For more information on the wide range of options for international study, visit the International Education Office.


Work and Internships

Many second-years begin to explore the possibilities of part-time jobs or internships.

Working part-time is a quintessential part of the college experience for many Bruins, and the opportunities to work on campus are plentiful. The most popular on-campus employer for undergraduate students is Associated Students of UCLA (ASUCLA). In addition to online job listings, ASUCLA job boards are located in at 219 Kerckhoff Hall and Ackerman Student Union (A-level).

Meanwhile, many students explore for-credit, often unpaid, internships throughout the academic year or in the summer. The Center for Community Learning and Career Center both have internship listings and supportive staff to help your Bruin find an internship, enroll in an internship course and guide them through meeting any other requirements.


Career Services

It’s never too early to begin planning for life after college.

Second-year students may not yet be thinking about life after college; after all, they can remember the first day of college like it was yesterday.

At the same time, many second-years may be choosing a major and already have an idea of what they would like to do after graduation. The UCLA Career Center offers resources and programs for all Bruins. Your second-year should feel comfortable visiting the Career Center at any time during the course of the year, whether it is to begin crafting his or her resume, search for internships or to meet with a counselor to discuss interests and explore various career paths.