It’s weird being a sophomore right now; and that’s coming from a sophomore. We all remember what campus looked like last year when the majority of classes were being held online and a decent percentage of the student body lived off-campus. Because of this, the current sophomore class is experiencing a new type of college life this fall.
Last year was like the free-trial period of college. We had the same basic features of a normal college experience, but so much of what makes college, college, was lost.
This year, as we return to a more fully active campus, it’s like that free-trial period has expired and we’re getting the real deal: the full unadulterated college experience. That begs the question, am I really a sophomore?
Objectively, yes, I am. Yet, I’m still left asking myself whether I’m in the same space and place that a sophomore would normally be without the heavily modified freshman year that we experienced.
To be completely honest, I think the answer to that question is no. The current class of sophomores is far from the conventional idea of a sophomore. Division one sports are a staple of the traditional Wake experience, and until this season’s opening game, I had never been to a full capacity football game, basketball game or sporting event of any type. The sophomore class has never heard the fight song sung by a full stadium; the largest student gathering I have ever been a part of was the Aug. 28 protest.
On one of my first days back this semester, I saw a freshman ask a friend of mine where the Magnolia Room was. They didn’t know. Another friend barely knows where half of the academic buildings on campus are. It seems like we’re in limbo between a normal freshman and a normal sophomore. Are we freshmen 2.0? Or better yet, how about 2nd-year freshmen?
It’s safe to say that we don’t know many of the growing pains that the freshman class is experiencing (like trying to find a group of friends, then realizing you don’t like those friends and trying to make new ones).
Still, there is a lot about this school and campus that we aren’t familiar with, like seeing Benson full of people and tables. We aren’t even familiar with the regular order and alignment of tables and chairs in the Pit. Even small things that the freshmen and upperclassmen wouldn’t notice — like seeing tables in Subway or down in the mail-room — are new to us.
Last year we got to explore campus and dip our toes in the water of college. We learned how to be college students and grew as individuals. This year, we are getting out of the kiddie pool and jumping into the deep end. We’re saying goodbye to the watered-down college life that we lived last year and experiencing a fully alive Wake Forest for the first time.
We are privileged in that we get to see our university exuding life and energy, and we are a part of the mess of students swarming around campus between classes. Instead of waking up and sitting at a desk behind a screen, we tie our shoelaces, sling our backpacks over our shoulders, and go to class.
This brings me back to my question of what we are. Are we just a second freshmen class? Are there any tangible differences between us and the freshman class? As irregular as our college experience has been so far, we’re still sophomores (albeit with an asterisk). This year’s freshmen won’t face the same challenges that we did, but surely, they will experience unique hurdles.