The new academic year has officially started at LSE. After a difficult year last year for faculty, staff, and students, it is nice to right now be back in the classroom for in-person learning and teaching. Going into my second year of teaching, I constantly reflect on the hardships all LSE students faced last year, especially first-year ones who started at LSE in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the LSE experience takes on what can be considered a more normal on-campus environment, how should students who started LSE last year be thinking about the way forward?
Before the pandemic, many would have considered the second year of university, whether it’s in a three- or four-year program, as a time of transition, growth, and change. Of course that happens tremendously during the first year as well; how could it not after coming from high school? But the second year encompasses a different shade of those experiences. By the time you start your second year, you’re generally more comfortable with being a university student: you’ve gotten the hang of lectures, classes, and tutorials. You have a better understand what is expected of you and how to complete assignments. You have some experience writing essays and taking stressful exams. You’ve found your group of friends and even your niche on campus. The second year is filled with opportunities and the reasonable chance to finally feel settled into your new home.
Campus tour guide during Welcome Week 2021
At the same time, you’re not in those final years of your university life yet where you’re maybe thinking about what comes after, whether it’s entering the workforce or starting a master’s degree program. In other words, it’s a sweet-spot year you should truly enjoy, especially as we enter a new phase of the pandemic.
But the second year is also an opportunity to learn from your successes and mistakes of the previous year, capitalize on them or work to improve, and set yourself up for success for the remainder of your time at LSE or at university. I look back fondly on my second year of Princeton as a time when I felt like I was truly starting to figure things out and get adjusted to my new world. I would encourage you to think about your second year at LSE in the same way. There’s a world of possibilities out there – which ones will you choose?