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Congrats! You survived freshman year, the exhilarating entry into high school, and you are now starting school as an experienced sophomore. This year, you’ll be feeling more confident in how to manage your busy social and academic schedule, while also still enjoying the thrilling feeling of being in secondary education. Some of your advanced classes will begin to ramp up this year and you may even begin thinking about prep courses or life beyond graduation. And because (spoiler alert!) your junior year will be the harbinger of numerous applications and standardized tests, it will be important this year to set the right tone for academic focus and rigor.

Here are three ways you can start your sophomore year off right:

  1. Lead with digital literacy: Sophomore year signals the arrival of longer-form writing assignments, particularly research papers. Many advanced courses this year will require group or independent projects and they may be assigned in the first few weeks, so get ready to jump right in. You’ll be asked to create in-depth pieces that involve a wider variety of resources, and you will be expected to quote and cite them correctly. Get ready for it all by sharpening your digital literacy skills with these paraphrasing materials or watch this video on how to effectively evaluate online sources.
  2. Avoid the sophomore slump: You already have your first year under your belt, which should give you some assurance that you can handle whatever comes your way. That said, many students experience a sophomore slump, where they find that their second year doesn’t quite live up to the first. Anticipate these jumble of emotions or avoid them altogether by taking a few key steps, like connecting with your parents, family, or friends as the year begins or by utilizing your school’s counseling resources, as one tenth-grader suggests on the CollegeVine blog about sophomore year. Even if it’s precautionary, it is always a good idea to prioritize your own mental and emotional well-being.
  3. Tune in to the moment: Starting sophomore year means you’re nearly halfway through your SecEd experience. Live in the present! Be mindful of where you are and how you approach each moment, as these days will fly by faster than you realize. One way to capture these precious experiences is by listening to music: there is a deep connection between the tunes of a time in our lives and our ability to recall those events years later. So, collaborate on a shared playlist with your friends and add all your favorite 2019 songs, then enjoy a spontaneous sophomore dance party… your future self will thank you.

Being a sophomore is an important and distinct experience, with its own set of joys and challenges. Here’s to you for bringing an open mind, a tenacious spirit, and perhaps a few new dance moves to your school year!