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During freshman year, everything is new and unfamiliar and daunting. Those first few weeks are a crash course into living with hundreds of other college kids, moving away from home, dealing with real college classes, and sustaining yourself on unhealthy amounts of processed carbs. It’s terrifying and wondrous all at the same time. But returning to campus sophomore year for round two is probably the second biggest transition. The experience and know-how formed during the first year shifts the perspective of a lot of things. Some for the better and some not so much. Here are some things you realize as you level up from fresh meat to super cool sophomore.

You’re no longer the newbies

You no longer have to feel compelled to turn around when someone yells, “Hey freshman!” You know exactly where all your classes are, where the best spots are in the library, and how professors operate. It’s definitely strange seeing students who are more lost than you, but it’s reaffirming at the same time.

You’re starting to learn who your friends are

Freshman friend groups rarely survive the test of time. It’s simply not possible to keep so close with such a huge number of people. As a first-year, we want to make as many friends as possible because it helps us acclimate to a new environment. But in our sophomore year, we begin to find those we connect with most and hang out with those who stuck around. If freshman year is spreading out our branches all over into different networks, then sophomore year is the beginning of the process to put our roots down.

Frat parties are the worst

The first blow-out college party of freshman year is always an experience to be remembered. The freedom and revelry is pretty new to most students. But after a year of frat sludge, masses of sweaty human bodies, and trying to dance to terrible top 40 music playing in a basement, the sheen of college partying wears off into a dull stain. Kicking back with a group of close friends or having a fun night out in the city suddenly seems much more appealing than lukewarm soda concoctions.

No more switching majors every two weeks

Flitting from philosophy to neuroscience to international relations in a span of a semester is no longer that easy. Well, people will definitely still change their majors as they find something that suits them, but now the shifts are not across disciplines and more within them. You pretty much know whether you’re a humanities, social science, or engineering student. Plus now there are major-specific requirements to start thinking about.

The dining hall really does suck

Most people got sick of their dining hall offerings after the first two months of freshman year. Maybe you thought it would get better after you abstained from it for the summer? Nope. It still sucks – three months haven’t changed the dining fatigue from 270+ days of eating chicken tenders and visiting the pasta station every night. Bad news is, you still have 3 more years of it!

Classes went from 0 to 100 real quick

Those upper-level courses you’re starting to take are on a different level from those huge freshman-populated introductory ones. Professors expect a greater understanding of background materials, exams get harder, and stakes (namely, our GPA) grow higher. No more chalking things up to being a freshman; now we need to step the game up.

Extracurriculars are becoming a big responsibility again

Most of us left high school in charge of several clubs or student organizations and starting all over new during our first year without a managing position was strange. But the cycle starts again! As our experience grows, so do our responsibilities and commitments. No more joining clubs because of the free pizza. Actually that last one is a lie, everyone totally still does it.

With great power comes great responsibility. Sophomore year might mean moving up the totem pole but it also means really carving out a space for yourself. Both are good things – embrace it.

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the author

Jilliann Pak hails from the suburbs of SoCal but is currently attending school across the coast at Johns Hopkins University. When she’s not complaining about the cold weather or sleeping in the library, she’s probably eating, cuddled up into a blanket burrito, or watching Parks and Recreation, preferably all at once.

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