Parents & Family

Navigating Second Year

Amid the familiarity students feel with regard to academics, co-curricular involvement, social relationships and the campus setting, there may be times they struggle with pressures related to being a competent student, asserting autonomy, and defining their personal and career niches in life.

For some students, the second year can be challenging. The excitement of the first year with its new experiences can meld into a time of complacency and even disappointment. Second-year students may feel they have a nondescript role on campus—not having the novelty of being freshmen but not quite having attained the status of being upperclassmen.

These factors, coupled with uncertainty about their career paths or academic abilities as courses become increasingly difficult, can lead students to feel overwhelmed or frustrated at times.

Parental encouragement is important. Along with your support, BW faculty and staff can help your student gain the confidence, abilities and insights to be successful.

Academic Competency

A second year student's schedule often includes courses that fulfill BW core requirements as well as ones in a declared major. This process enables a student who is an undeclared major to take general courses aimed at fulfilling core requirements while still allowing for academic exploration.

In addition, it allows a student with a declared major to take focused courses as a way to discern levels of interest and competence in a particular academic area.

As a parent, you might be concerned if your student switches majors in the second year. You might wonder if it could affect staying on track for graduation. BW resources, such as your student's academic advisor and advisors in the Career Center, can help.


Starting the first year, most students begin a steady progression of independence that culminates to their final year and extends beyond graduation. 

One example is financial independence. Families may want their student to assume more personal accountability for finances, but may have difficulty in convincing their student to embrace this practice. Students, on the other hand, may enjoy the security of their parents and family members paying the bills. But they may balk if they try to share opinions with them about academic or career direction.

Personal and Career Niches

Similar to the first year, the factors of identity formation, self-esteem and self-concept continue to evolve and influence a student's sense of values, direction and purpose. Academics, co-curricular activities and other experiences can help a student seek opportunities and involvement associated with a particular career path, social cause or personal endeavor.

Parent/Family Pointers

You can support your student by:

  • Listening as your student shares interests and goals as well as frustrations and uncertainties
  • Encouraging your student to utilize BW resources
  • Allowing for autonomy when it comes to decision-making—even if it means seeing your student make mistakes along the way
  • Staying in touch via phone calls, email and text messages and sending cards, gifts and care packages