Navigating the Emotions and Challenges of Your College “Limbo” Years
Navigating through your college sophomore and junior years towards being a college senior is an underplayed challenge. The new responsibilities and freedoms for freshmen are highlighted and discussed frequently. However, a shadow falls over many college sophomores and juniors as they enter the "limbo" years. They don’t need the support that many freshmen seek yet they also don’t have the spotlight of graduating and entering a full-time position in a few months that the seniors acquire.
Reality Sets In
The “limbo” years can feature feelings of burnout and questioning as students feel stuck in a repetitive cycle of attending classes, studying, and taking exams. Many of my peers agree that these years are full of love/hate relationships. They describe going from one day loving their major and studies to the very next day finding themselves questioning everything about their future. The excitement of college has worn off. These students are facing many internal battles to find the right path for their success while managing to have a good time along the way, despite the difficulty of their classes increasing. Some might feel stuck working their way through generic courses, still searching for their passion while having yet to experience the joy of practicing real work in their major field.
Change Your Mindset
One way that helps me stay motivated despite the repetitive nature of the “limbo” years is to change my perspective. I struggle to find passion for required courses I have to take outside my major, but I take a step back and evaluate ways I can adjust my performance and attitude towards these classes. A basic course such as English seems taxing and time-consuming to an engineering student, however I recognize that this course may be more helpful for things outside my degree such as scholarship or application essays.
This change of perspective helps me maintain a positive outlook and an attitude focused on making the best of the situation I am in. I realize I cannot change that I must take courses I may not enjoy but I can change how I approach them. Staying more open-minded allows me to draw something from the course even if it as simple as how to talk to professors or how to study for non-problem-solving courses.
Set Small Goals
Another tactic I use is to set small goals so I can visualize my own progression and growth despite feeling stuck in a loop. Setting a different attainable goal each month or between each holiday is an easy way to build in self-progression. For example, after winter break last semester, I set one goal to work towards and after Valentine’s Day I reflected to see how successful I was. I then set a new goal and reflected on that one during Spring Break. Following this schedule, I could see myself growing professionally, academically, and personally as I improved different areas of my life.
Some examples of goals I have set are to reach out to professional contacts I haven’t reached out to in a while, finalizing an internship position for the summer, cooking more meals in my apartment, or attending a weekly yoga class. These goals cover a wide range of my life and are simply set to help provide myself with a way to track progression and find purpose amid the academic cloud many sophomores and juniors feel trapped under.
The challenges that sophomores and juniors face may not be highlighted as strongly as those of freshmen and seniors, but maybe they should be. There are many more tactics to fight through this feeling of being stuck in quicksand, but the main key is to pull yourself out of the situation and view it from a more overarching perspective. Set goals for yourself to keep your personal values the focus of your daily work.
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