The Sophomore Challenge

The Sophomore Challenge

One day while in college a professor challenged us to consider, what he called the sophomore challenge. His theorem went like this. Any student who goes to a college as an undergraduate and completes at least four years can only expect to do the things on campus which they complete in the first two years. I know that is a confusing statement so let me explain.

Let’s say a student goes to a large campus. It offers multiple opportunities to do some really cool things. For instance let’s take the campus I love so much Indiana University Bloomington (the mother ship). On that campus there is a golf course, bowling alley, shooting range, concerts, a ballet company, choirs, fraternities, sororities, a law library, a medieval arts collection, a modern art museum, classes about classic film, orchestra, classes about gender studies, classes about human sexuality, a theater company, a modern dance company, basketball, football, rugby matches, an outdoor swimming pool, an indoor swimming pool, four large multi-purpose gyms, the Alfred E. Kinsey institute of human sexuality, bowling classes, classes about the history of Rock and Roll, and on and on and on. In fact there is so much a student can do that no matter how hard they tried, no student could ever do, or see it all.

According to my esteemed professor, if a student did not do an activity by the end of their sophomore year, their chances of doing it goes down dramatically. In fact he further states each month after the sophomore year a student does not do an activity the possibility they will do it is cut in half. That is actually a dramatic thought. But it goes to the basic idea that humans are creatures of habit. Once we become ingrained in our own world, we tend not to venture off the beaten path. We get comfortable with what we do and seldom if ever try new things or even venture into new areas of thought.

I know I am guilty of this behavior. For instance how do I know I like Hanes socks? I have not tried all the socks ever made. I do not even know half of the socks that are manufactured. I could not even say for certain that they are the best in my local store. All I really know is that they fit my foot, my feet feel good and I do not get blisters. Is that the measure of the best sock in the world? On reflection, I have to say I doubt it.

Back to my beloved campus I told my youngest son this theorem before as I accompanied him to the mother ship for a visit. Now let me express that I knew of most of these activities, but I went to two regional campuses so I had never attended the mother ship’s grand campus. The little region campuses I attended, included almost none of these perfect amenities. I did get to a film class, I still cherish that experience today, but I attended it at the end of my sophomore year. So while I didn’t do everything I wanted, I did most everything offered. Minus a few I did not want to do.

At the end of his sophomore year I asked my son what things he had not done he still wanted to do at the greatest single place in the history of the world. He thought and said he did not know. I do know he never went bowling, or to the shooting range. He missed most of the specialty libraries, about 70% of the Big Ten sporting events, most of the ultra-cool arts groups, and I do not think he ever say the medieval art collection. He did see many shows, almost all basketball games, and he had lunch under his academic coat of arms in alumni hall. I noticed in his last semester he took a class dedicated to the history of Rock and Roll, one he loved, and one he said he truly wished he could take other variants of if he had more time.

So how about diabetes management; do we get in a rut? Do we miss the new for the routine? I know I do. For instance my wife wanted me to try a pump for about 5 years before I switched. Why did I wait? Well, I only knew about the issues related to a now defunct thought of installing a sub-dermal pump. It failed and that was where my knowledge stopped. I was certain such a pump would not work for me so I said no. Well once I saw one in operation I wanted one immediately.

So what is the lesson? There really isn’t one. I think my esteemed professor and his unscientific statement seems in retrospect about right. Putting things off is likely not always the best policy. Today if I asked my son, he would do it all, just as in my wildest dreams I would do it all if I got to attend the mother ship. I can certainly see myself attending the Broadway in Bloomington series, the Bob Dylan concert, a women’s volleyball game and no doubt the Alfred E. Kinsey library. Something’s you just have to do.