Dear Cornell Sophomore,

After three long months of counting down the days, you are back with your friends in your favorite place. The clock tower chimes, the rain falls, the sun shines on an occasionally beautiful day, you hustle to your classes at 8:40 and 10:10, and it pretty much feels like you never even left for the summer…almost like it was a dream.

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As a freshman, the beginning of the school year might have felt strange because everything was new: the location, the people, the lifestyle, the dorm each person calls home. However, as a returning student, Cornell picks up right where it left off. Although you have been here for a mere four weeks and the excitement you experienced building up to school seems recent, it feels like you have been here forever.

First come the academics. No longer are you in freshman writing seminars or mandatory gym classes. No longer are you in enormous lectures of general requirements you must take. No longer are you confused about Blackboard or Student Center, frantically trying to figure out how to find a syllabus or change your schedule, nor do you have 9 a.m. classes every day of the week. This year, you have a schedule that works because you know by now how you operate as a student, and when you prefer to work or sleep.

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However, while comfort is refreshing, it didn’t take long for the semester to get into “full swing.” Suddenly, you have your first prelim next week, a paper due, readings and problem sets to keep you hustling during the limited down time you still have. Your professors are ready to go, and expect that you share the same mentality. You already spend chunks of hours at a time in your library of choice and occasionally stay up late to finish homework. There is so much to do, and yet, it’s only the fourth week of classes. Sometimes, you wish it could be summer again. When you’re feeling down about your work, remember that you love what you’re studying, and that is why you’re at Cornell, after all. Try to embrace the assignments that come with it.

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Next, your college social life “resumed” the second you stepped back on campus—or maybe even before. You had already known your roommate, what your room looked like. Your friends had started to arrive back on campus for at least a week before classes began. Prior to arriving, you had planned a packed O-week schedule between moving into your new room, helping freshmen find orientation sessions within your college, trying to make the most of your time in Ithaca without homework and prelims, and seeing dozens of old friends from last year. You know even more people than you had remembered, and seeing each face for the first time since last semester brings a smile, hug, and friendly exchange hello.

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There are so many people with whom you want to catch up, get lunch, and hang out. Plus, there are new people you are meeting every day: in your new classes, the new group of freshmen, and random students you had never spoken to before. No longer do you nervously walk into class, wondering with whom you’ll sit; there are tons of familiar, friendly faces. No longer do you have to guess if the people you call “friends” are actually friends, or if they are only temporary.

Finally, there’s adjusting to the fact that you are no longer a freshman. That’s right: the harsh reality. No longer do you live on North campus, no longer is RPCC brunch on Sundays the hangout spot, no longer do you end each night out at Nasties. You are older, more mature, and more experienced, and you are expected to act like it. While these truths may bring some nostalgia occasionally, remember that your Cornell experience is only ¼ over and there is so much still for you to learn and explore.

As a sophomore, you have the freedom to live on West Campus, in a sorority/fraternity house, or in Collegetown. You might switch up your meal plan and enjoy more food off campus. Some of your friends may have cars, and that will allow you to explore more of Ithaca. Enjoy the time you have here and savor every moment.

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