While the first year at Princeton, for most, is characterized by exploration (and, understandably, confusion, disorientation and hyperactivity), sophomore year at Princeton revolves around decision.
As a rosy-eyed first-year student, I indulged every whim and inkling of curiosity, exploring the extensive course catalogue with rampant curiosity and enrolling in courses with little rhyme, reason or regard for their “utility. ” I read every single email advertising opportunities on campus and applied to or joined every group or activity I was even vaguely curious about. I immersed myself in my coursework with genuine, focused attention and passion for my courses’ subject matter. I had fun, I followed my interests, and I didn’t overthink my decisions. With the ability to discover, to explore and to take advantage of every academic, social and cultural opportunity, I zigzagged through my first year at Princeton taking full advantage of the fact that I WAS AT PRINCETON.
Plasticity describes the ability and propensity of a solid to undergo changes under pressure. It describes the ability to be shaped, to change and to respond. I appreciated my firstyear for the enormous value I discovered in spontaneity, in curiosity and in plasticity.
As a sophomore, however, the pattern of my academic and social pursuits, was disorientingly measured by the quick succession of decisional junctures I had to pass through. My nomadic and restive model of decision-making as a first-year was quickly replaced by the jolted motions of my constant pattern of decision and indecision, and I experienced what is frequently called “the Sophomore Slump.” Every decision was daunting, and I was caught in a muddle of confusion and doubt over what I wanted to study and over how I wanted to dedicate my time and energy at Princeton.
As a sophomore, you will confront several significant social and academic decisions. In early spring, you will have the opportunity to join and eating club or co-op (or not) and by the end of spring semester, as an A.B. degree student, you will be required to select your concentration. (Students pursuing a B.S.E. degree select their concentration spring semester first year.) These decisions, significant for some and unremarkable for others, have the potential to shape the trajectory of your time at Princeton.
Thankfully, I navigated favorably through these decisions, finishing the academic year happily situated in a social community and an academic department where I feel supported and welcomed. I was the happiest I have ever been at Princeton during my spring semester, and as I gained clarity in my decisions, I grew confident in those choices, finding joy in my ability to find new opportunities to indulge in my curiosity again. The quick succession of these decisions served as a harsh awakening to the advent of the midpoint in my Princeton career, but instead of catalyzing crisis and doubt, it reinvigorated my absolute zeal and enthusiasm for Princeton and for the opportunities that are available to me here.