Sailing through Sophomore Year

The following is a list of tips for sophomores in college. The list of tips for first-year college students can be read here.

1. Go on as Many Spring Break Trips as You Can!
By now you should probably have a group of solid friends whom you really enjoy spending time with. Get together early and start planning a spring break together. The earlier you plan, the better prices you will get because financial reasons are usually the deal breakers to go on spring break. 

One of the few things I regretted not doing in college was to travel with my friends during all of my spring breaks. Spring breaks are great opportunities to spend time with your friends because trust me, once you start working, it will be difficult to find overlapping time to travel with your friends.

Of course, some people choose to catch up on schoolwork during their spring break because midterms are usually waiting for you right after the break. But this is why you should take your academic work with you. You can do them while your friends are taking pictures with the dolphins, trying exotic food, or ordering another round of drinks at the local bar.

Oh and if you can’t go due to financial reasons, this is probably the best time to apply what you’ve learned in Chemistry 101 by hot wiring the ATM machines in your neighborhood and taking the cash in them.
And if you do get caught, it’ll probably also be a good time to apply what you’ve learned in Law 101 and get yourself out of jail.

See! Whoever said that college classes are seldom practical in real life situations was wrong.

2. Ignore Your Friends and Hunger 
Hopefully you take some kind of notes in class (unless you have a photographic, videographic or audiographic memory). If you happen to have these types of memories, do not tell anyone because your peers will hate you.
After class, review your notes immediately. Then, review them again a few of minutes before the next class. If these times happen to be food or social time, do not order your food or even talk to your friends before you finish reviewing your notes.

If you follow these instructions for an entire semester, I guarantee that your friends will stop hanging out with you and you will develop some type of digestive problem.

However, if you do review your notes before and immediately after class, you will be able to absorb the course’s information more easily and less painfully. Trying to cram materials is not fun and less effective. I mean come on, you probably have many facebook status updates to read than to study massive amounts of materials in one sitting. That is, if you still have friends on facebook.

3. If You Wait Until the Last Minute, You Will Cry  

In college, you are expected to read a lot of material in a short amount of time. Times that number by five if you are a social science, business or whatever major that revolves around reading. It is usually not easy absorbing these materials because they are not sensational information like your friends’ status updates, wall posts, or photo albums.

Also, we are not robots. We do not automatically digest information just because they are in front of our eyes. Even if we do digest the information, we do not digest 100% of them. And even if we do digest a large percentage of them, it does not mean that we are going to retain 100% of the information.

This is when we all wished that we had the superpower of being able to rapidly read materials and retain them instead of being invisible, being able to teleport, or being able to fly.

So, the next best thing to do is not procrastinate. You have reading assignments due five days from today? Read now. There is no better time than the present.

Know that you have “peak hours” of absorbing information. Be aware of your trends. Everyone is different. Some people absorb information most effectively in the morning, other people at night, and other people never. Try to stick to a routine so that your brain and body automatically gets in the habit of doing academic work.

You will be more efficient and you will waste less time.

And if you do end up crying because you have procrastinated, make sure you post that under “What’s on your mind?” on facebook. Maybe you will be able to distract your friends who are also cramming materials so you can pull an all-nighter together.

4. Fight for the Classes You Want to Take

By now, you should have heard about which classes are amazing and which ones are not. You will have to strategize to get into them because many others will want to take them as well.

Being a sophomore puts you at a disadvantage because you are competing with juniors and seniors who get first picks on classes. Since they are graduating soon and they must complete their course requirements on time, they will get priorities in choosing classes.

When you see the message that “this class is full” and that “you’re the 50th person out of 50 others on the wait list,” do not think that you lost the fight to get into the class because it just began.

E-mail the professor who teaches the class and tell them that you have heard great things about it. Tell them that you have been waitlisted but you are wondering if they can remove you. Professors have control over the number of students in their class so usually e-mailing them with this request should get in you.

However, this technique does not always work. If it does not, show up on the first day of class when professors usually ask which students are on the wait list. They will take down their names so that when slots open, they will know who really wants to take their class.
When I was a sophomore, I did this one time for a class that I really wanted to take. I knew I had to show up on the first day because it was a popular class and the wait list had about 20 people while the class was intended for ten.

That day, the professor asked that the wait-listers tell her why we wanted to take the class.

I had this self-proclaimed amazing reason about how I loved all the classes that I had taken with her and how everyone on the planet told me how great this class was. However, all that flattery vanished when one person stood up and said something like, “I’m a senior and this is my last semester here. I’ve been waiting to take this class for the last three years of my life so this is my last chance.”

I wanted to throw my laptop at him but also praise him for being so persuasive.

And yes, the professor removed him from the waitlist and he got into the class.

Just remember that sometimes all you have to do is ask. It is about half of the battle.

5. Drink Responsibility
Drinking alcohol is one of the extracurricular activities that some college students take part in. Classes are more demanding than they were in high school so you work a lot harder. Therefore, some people choose to drink to relieve their stress and reward themselves for their hard work.

There are times when some of us drink more than our body can handle. That is fine because we all make poor decisions at one point in our lives. However, do not sit in a car and start driving after you just drank one liter of vodka. Try not to binge drink to the point that you are severely impaired or close to death and need to get alcohol pumped out of your body. College students have died because of excessive alcohol consumption and this issue should not be taken lightly. According to an article written by USA Today, which was published in 2006, “the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that there is an estimated 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 who die from alcohol-related incidents each year.”

The general rule of thumb is that a person, with an average weight, can process up to one drink per hour (it can be one shot, 12 ounces of beer or a glass of wine). However, everyone’s body is different so proceed with caution.

The last thing you want on a Sunday afternoon is to be in a hospital or to be dead. However, having a hangover on Sunday and being unable to focus on your work is not going to be a problem.

Who does work on Sundays anyway? College students usually do their schoolwork on Friday nights.

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