The “Sophomore Slump” and Slowing Down by Xuan Ly

The second semester has just begun, and with it, the “Sophomore Slump.” I have passed through the excitement of freshman year, whose energy dragged me through the first semester, but now I have arrived at what feels like an endless loop of seemingly irrelevant classes. Although, to be clear, as a student, the subjects on my schedule is important, but as of right now there is no visible finish line. Sophomore year has slowly become a nightmare in which the hole I have fallen into is endless, which is cliche but I cannot find the brainpower to come up with anything new, and this endless hole describes my slump perfectly. Nothing is within reach, unlike the upperclassmen, who may have more difficult work, but are so close to the finish line. The juniors are almost seniors and the seniors are almost graduated. I, on the other hand, am just a sophomore.

College is on my mind. I find it looming over me without any clarity. Sure, as a sophomore maybe I shouldn’t be worrying about college, at least that is what I’m told. And yes, I don’t need to take the SATs or ACTs this year, but how can I stop myself from factoring in my entire future when deciding whether I should let myself relax on a Saturday or spend the whole day studying for chemistry test? I struggle to find the balance between producing quality work for my classes and enjoying the time I have before the real stress of the college application process. I feel like my mind is always calculating the best route for future success, which leaves the present me burnt out with no immediate gratification. Overtime, I’ve realized that the way students have been wired to learn is rarely for the joy of learning something new, but for the grades, which supposedly sets us up for a future that never seems to become the present.

When Heather heard about the sophomores’ predicament, she arranged what she called a “slunch,” or sophomore lunch. We gathered in her office and let go of our worries. Heather, Kaia, and Hannah baked delicious cookies to share, Emma brought popcorn, there was fruit, and chips that we all enjoyed. What I appreciated most about sitting together in Heather’s office, besides the realization of what our class had overcome in the past year, is that I don’t remember much of our conversations, and didn’t need to. To me, this indicates how effortless the conversations had been. In that small room, squished on Heather’s leather couch, I did not have to contemplate my next thought and what responses it would receive. I knew that everyone would just understand. I felt more engaged and relaxed at school than I had been for months.

In the past weeks, I found that when I admitted to myself that I am in said “slump,” my apathy for school grew exponentially, and I was no longer able to be lifted by a passing smile. But, I have learned how to slow down and focus on the present instead of the unknown. This includes recognizing and releasing the tension, caused by increasing negative energy, that I have fostered in my body. When I have trouble remembering what it is like to live solely in the present, I think back to our sophomore lunch. I think about the joy of being rooted in natural conversation that has nothing to do with school. In that small office decorated with pictures of alumni who have gone through what I am, I was able to see a light in the endless hole, or at least see other people falling with me. Now, looking at my classmates’ faces I think two things: 1) do I look that over it? 2) I totally understand you. I am able to laugh, which provides me with strength to continue on.


Xuan Ly, class of 2021

14 thoughts on “The “Sophomore Slump” and Slowing Down by Xuan Ly

  1. Coco Johnson says:

    I definitely agree with you about the “Sophomore Slump” Xuan. I don’t feel like I have anything to work towards at the moment. There’s nothing that I can accomplish at the moment. No college application deadline or anything similar to that. What resonated with me was when you questioned if you should have been relaxing or studying for a test on a Saturday. School comes first to me but at the moment school is all I ever have time for. My brain needs a break. A lot of people compare sophmore year to seventh grade year but I disagree. Seventh grade was more exciting to me, there was much more to do. I wasn’t just going through the motions.

    I know that next year will get better (hopefully). I enjoyed reading your post. Good job!

  2. Otto says:

    Since I, as a current Freshmen, are getting close to sophomore year, I have heard many horror stories and I believe them to be all true. I can see how one would be torn between wanting to do good-quality work. But is it worth it at the cost of many recreational activities that we all hold dear?

  3. Hannah W Duane says:

    Right there beside you Ms. Ly, but I have to say you make it look effortless. Never has there been such a kind and thoughtful person. I feel so blessed to slump with you. There’s only going up from here.

  4. Solange Baker says:

    This definitely resonates with every Sophomore and anyone who has ever been a Sophomore. I remember feeling a bit like this when I was in 10th grade. Spring break is almost here! Relax, take it easy. I know the feeling of feeling like everything you do now will impact your future, but colleges don’t even really look at your Sophomore year. They like to see improvement in your grades from year to year so if you fumbled a bit this year don’t worry about it. I wish I had used my Sophomore year to relax and look at other opportunities/extra curriculars.

  5. Charlotte says:

    The sophomore slump is BRUTAL. I remember sitting in geometry and wanting to just cry. It’s hard, but you can’t let temptation get to you especially since it’s the year colleges start looking at. I’ll tell you what a former senior, Emma E., told me in these trying times: it gets so much better. Soon you’ll get to choose your own classes and decide if you want a free period. Keep your head up Xuan! It’s all uphill from here, but at least the road gets more paved.

  6. Jessica Schott-Rosenfield says:

    Gee, I can’t wait for sophomore year! I hope I’ll be able to handle the trials and tribulations with as much grace as you have, Xuan. I can see myself reading this again next year, and reassuring myself that it can be done.

  7. Zai says:

    I guess I’ll have to brace myself for next year. Still, it’s nice to know in advance that it’s common to feel unmotivated in one’s sophomore year, so when the time comes I won’t feel quite so lost. I’ve heard that it gets better, though, so you at least have something to look forward to.

  8. Nadja Goldberg says:

    I entirely relate with what you describe in this blog post. You clearly articulate the strain of sophomore year, with a persistent load of meaningless work and a conflict between taking it easy and worrying about the future. This year has not been easy, but it’s much better facing the challenges alongside you and the other sophomores. When I text you at midnight while we’re both cramming our world history notes, or when we get together and try to figure out how studying works, I am optimistic that we can both get through this era and thrive in the years ahead.

  9. Luna A says:


    this is too true Xuan!! Big man, if you’re out there listening, please pull me out of this sophmore slump!!
    Still I ask myself, “should I take a break on a Saturday or do Ruiz’s notes?” Of course I choose the more favorable option and end up in a mess on Sunday night. But thank you so much Xuan for shedding light on these dark days…people need to be aware!!

  10. Kenzo Fukuda says:

    Sophomore year was horrendous. I understand how it feels like you’re stuck in limbo and nothing even matters. It is hard to stay motivated, especially when it feels like nothing matters. Not to be a bummer, but being a junior is like sophomore year on a trash can fire. According to the seniors, it gets better.

  11. Lauren Ainslie says:

    Swanly Xuan Ly,

    You have turned the Bane of my Existence, The Sophomore Slump, into a lovely piece of writing. We are in the same boat. But as summer approaches, I am able to focus on the nicer aspects of sophomore year, like friends and CW, over the rest. Ready to be in junior year with you!

  12. Nina Berggren says:


    As much as it seems like sophomore year will last forever, it’ll be over before you know it! While it can be easier to indulge in negativity rather than positivity, the latter has much more rewarding results. Think of your academics as a social experiment rather than a burden, and allow the strange mixture of art school students fuel your brain power and instigate daydreams.


  13. Sequoia says:

    Oh my gosh Xuan you perfectly encapsulated everything I have felt throughout this whole year. This year has not been very eventful and I have found myself often discouraged and unmotivated. Thank you for accurately and truthfully expressing the true hell that is sophomore year, and I cannot tell you enough how eager to move on with you to junior year.

  14. Emma Cooney says:

    I feel this! Sophomore slump is no joke. You put how all of us are feeling into words and I greatly appreciate that. It’s hard when you start to lose motivation and stop caring to continue working. For me, the only thing pushing me to even show up to school is my dad. Right now, I feel like a mindless body simply following what is required rather than anything I want to do. Great blog post, it was nice to feel understood by a fellow sophomore experiencing the slump.

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