During Sophomore Retreat this year, Dean Jon Jacobsen told us, “You are not a part of Mudd. Mudd is a part of you.” As we sophomores sit on the cusp of our upperclassman-hood, that statement could not feel truer. Though our lives at Mudd seem to speed by, we continue to grow more with each passing year than perhaps we ever did before college. At the midpoint of our undergraduate careers, we can now reflect on the past two years and realize not just how different they were from each other, but also how our second year at Mudd actually built on the experiences of the first.
One major difference between our first year at Mudd and this past year was the lack of Core classes. As we drifted into courses specific to our majors, we interacted less with our friends who chose other disciplines and more with the new friends who struggled with the same coursework as we did. Such an expansion of my friend group was not something that I expected from sophomore year, but I’m so glad that frosh year did not set my social life in stone. Finishing Core also meant greater freedom in course selection and picking classes that we wanted to take. I took almost all engineering classes this past semester, and though it was stressful, I felt like the work I was doing was what I wanted to be learning, which wasn’t always true in previous semesters.
Another notable change between frosh year and sophomore year was whom I was living with. Some people made friends within their dorm during their first year at Mudd, but some of us hung out at different dorms or in Platt with people we didn’t live with. This year, many of the friends I didn’t live with last year were now just down the hall or even in the same room. Though proximity can ruin some relationships, others thrive because of it, which resulted in more late-night shenanigans than I had in frosh year. For those who stayed in the same dorm as they did during their first year, befriending the new frosh and inducting them into the dorm culture held a special excitement. No longer the newbies, we held for the first time the privilege to tease the frosh, live vicariously as they worked through their Core classes, and help them as they began their journey through Mudd.
One way that sophomore year built on frosh year was the honing of our academic interests. Many students, like myself, came to Mudd unsure of their major and what kind of job they wanted to have post-graduation. Having survived Core and selected (or almost selected) a major, we have a (at least slightly) better understanding of where our lives are heading after Mudd because we’ve had the opportunity to explore so many STEM careers during these past two years. As many of us join research labs or intern for the first time this summer, we will continue to build on the interests we decided to focus on during sophomore year.
These past two years have felt like a blur to me, and the next two will certainly not pass more slowly. Many of us are thinking about studying abroad, assuming leadership roles in clubs, preparing for graduate school or job applications, and doing other tasks that we always associated with older, wiser upperclassmen. Though our future as the new upperclassmen may seem full of uncertainty and responsibility we’re scared to take on, I know that the past two years at Mudd have provided the foundation we need to take the next step in our college careers. The journey to upperclassman-hood may have seemed like a giant leap when we were mere frosh, but now, so close to the end of sophomore year, we can step out of the comfort of being some of the school’s youngest into the unpredictability of advanced classes and greater control over our futures. Mudd may just be a part of our lives, but so far it’s been a crucial piece, adding tremendously to our personal growth and ushering us towards our imminent adulthood. Thus, though sophomore year was one year out of the many in our lives, it was a giant leap towards our careers, adulthood, and leaving Mudd to see what awaits us in the big, real world.