Advice for Incoming Sophomores

New year, New school, New start! Welcome,Class of 2023, to your first year at IMSA! First of all, congratulations again on being accepted, and get ready to start your journey! As your upperclassmen, we are so excited to get to know you all, and we have lots of advice to offer.

Many students from IMSA’s class of 2020, 2021, and 2022 have combined their efforts in order to provide you with some meaningful and useful advice.


There is no doubt that IMSA prides itself on its rigorous academic classes and teachers. Coming into this environment might seem frightening at first, especially if you’ve never been with students with as much drive and motivation as you. As you continue to make new friends and gain more experiences, don’t forget to try your hardest in classes and pay attention to your teachers. Self-driven, inquiry-based classes can often be described as how much effort you put in is how rewarding the output will be. Another important point: grades don’t define who you are. Don’t let one bad grade ruin your day or week. You can turn it into a learning by studying more or asking for help if you need it.

Here is some more advice from students:

  • You are given an amazingly supportive student community, unparalleled academic offerings, and opportunities to create a meaningful impact on campus. Take advantage of your time here! (Jodie Meng ‘20)
  • STUDY! I thought I could coast by without studying like I did at my old school. That was wrong. (Willow Dennison ‘22)
  • Put the most effort into the classes that you want to do the least; your GPA will thank you. (Caroline Hall ‘22)
  • Go see your teachers early and often! Connecting with them helps you build a strong relationship, and they can help with any assignments too! (Vivian Hedican ‘21)
  • I-day study sessions are a blessing (Sarah Oquendo ‘22)

Residential Living

IMSA gives an amazing opportunity for you to live alongside some of your best friends and classmates — an opportunity that will look different at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, but which still emphasizes community and togetherness, even virtually. The thought of living away from home might either excite you or scare you, but all RCs, teachers, upperclassmen, and wing guides are here to make your transition a little easier. Living on campus comes with its own perks, such as having access to classmates to ask for homework help or even just the chance to hang out with friends on school nights. Take advantage of the close-knit community in your hall and wings; they could end up being some of your best friends. One last piece of advice is to reach out to your upperclassmen. Many have already gone through some of the tough situations you’re facing, such as feelings of homesickness, struggles making friends, confusion about classes, etc. So getting close to some upperclassmen in your hall and wing might benefit you. Also, don’t forget to show hall pride!

Here is some more advice from students:

  • Please get a fridge in your room, it’s gonna serve you big time for sure. (Oliver Ni ‘22)
  • I would bring a lot of lamps or lights to the room. It’s dark. (Philip Yi ‘22)
  • Don’t let those hall stereotypes affect how you see each hall. (Ethan Brazelton ‘22)
  • Especially for downstate kids, put more money on your laundry card than you think you need. (Caroline Hall ‘22)
  • Plan housing (Michael Hunding ‘22)

Sodexo (Now Lexington)

Sodexo experiences (though IMSA now contracts its food services through Lexington) are different for everyone. Some people spend five minutes wolfing down food, some take longer to talk to friends, and some like to enjoy the peace and quiet of dining alone. In my opinion, eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Sodexo is a great way to catch up with friends, especially with a busy schedule. If there’s no one you know when entering Sodexo, don’t be afraid to talk to someone new and branch out. There is a wide variety of food available in each section. Be sure to try the deli line to the salads, and even the soups. Many students have created their own signature dishes, from cheesy fries to root beer floats. It’s all about getting creative with your meals.

Here is some more advice from students:

  • Don’t care about going to Sodexo alone. It really doesn’t matter, everyone’s equally stressed out. (Lauren Pickett ‘20)
  • Eat breakfast. Also, never miss gyro day and don’t sleep on the deli. (Russell Deng ‘22)
  • Sometimes Sodexo just doesn’t cut it or sports practice drains you or maybe you’re just up until 3 am. It always helps to have enough snacks for a meal, junk food, or otherwise, on hand. (Nathan Brodsky ‘22)
  • NEVER eat the Sodexo grilled chicken. (Kevin Fan ‘22)

Clubs / Extracurriculars

IMSA is a place to explore and find new passions. A large number of campus clubs and extracurriculars will allow you to step outside of your comfort zone. Most clubs will have an application process, consisting of a written application, interview stage, and possibly speeches. Most clubs consist of a “board”, a group of several members whose positions include sophomore/junior/senior reps, president, vice president, and more. As a sophomore, you will have opportunities to apply for boards or simply become a general member of a club. More competitive clubs (with a speech stage) include Class Club, Student Council, and Campus Activities Board (CAB)! On Acronym, we have a general staff, an editor for each section, the managing director, and two editors-in-chief. (We encourage you to apply!!) As well as clubs, IMSA offers lots of different extracurriculars during the year to get involved in. Most sports are offered, except contact ones. Culture shows are run by each culture club and are run periodically throughout the year. Anyone can sign up to choreograph, dance, or be in the script. There will also be events, including convocation, clash, pep rallies, and more.

Here is some more advice from students:

  • Get involved. IMSA is much more fun when you are in extracurriculars and in positions. (Karrick McGinty ‘22)
  • Don’t rush into applying to a ton of different clubs you think will look good on your college resume. (Cayleigh O’Hare ‘22)
  • Go to events, sports games, and culture shows and participate too so you can meet many amazing people. (Feyikemi Ogunleye ‘22)
  • Do culture shows, join clubs, run for board positions, do sports, and eventually, you’ll find at least one thing you love :) (Makayla Zheng ‘22)
  • IMSA is an amazing place with lots of great opportunities. Definitely explore your options, but avoid spreading yourself too thin. (Sabrina Meng ‘20)
  • Don’t be afraid to join an extracurricular that you like because people don’t think it’s “cool”. People judge you for you, not the clubs that you’re in. In the same vein, do not join clubs for clout. Ever. (Caroline Hall ‘22)

Friendships / Relationships

Attending a boarding school, you will make friendships that last into adulthood. Open yourself up and try to meet new people. Although you may not get there on your first try, or even your sophomore year, you will find friends that you love. Your upperclassmen are also your friends and we will give you guidance as you navigate through IMSA. Don’t be afraid to reach out – even virtually. As far as relationships go, stay true to yourself. Set boundaries. Communicate. Who you date and when you date is up to you and only you. Sophomore rushing is a term that refers to the beginning of the year when lots of sophomores tend to “rush” into relationships. Although this may be postponed until we meet on campus, take it at your own risk.

Here is some more advice from students:

  • Don’t rush into friendships and bet everything on one group of people. (Anonymous)
  • Talk to a bunch of upperclassmen. It’s ok they don’t bite. Some may even turn out to be your best friend :) (Cayleigh O’Hare ‘22)
  • We only have time for finite interactions. The more people you interact with, the more shallow each interaction becomes. Don’t worry about not being able to be everywhere at once – we all know that things are busy. Focus your time on the people that matter, and make those interactions count. (Luke Milavec ‘20)
  • Don’t try to force yourself into any friend group and don’t worry about fitting in. Everyone eventually finds their place at IMSA, you just need to wait. (Anonymous)
  • Get to know your upperclassmen and appreciate the time you do get to spend with them. (Matthew Halliman ‘20)


As a conclusion, we wanted to share motivational pieces of advice from your upperclassmen. Remember, you will struggle at IMSA but it’s important to keep your head up and find confidence in yourself. You will go through a lot of changes – but everything is for the best!

Here is some more advice from students:

  • It’s going to be hard sometimes I’m not going to lie, just know that everyone around you is going through the same thing and they understand the struggle. Keep your head up, you’re going to do amazing! (Feyikemi Ogunleye ‘22)
  • Enjoy your sophomore year while you can, do what makes you happy because it will fly by so fast. (Liz Soyemi ‘22)
  • Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. (Samuel Lee ‘22)
  • Come in open-minded. Be ready for all your expectations to be shattered in good and bad ways. You won’t ever be 100% prepared for IMSA but just have confidence. (Jasmine Liu ‘22)
  • Please remember that you are YOU. Don’t listen to upperclassmen talk about their IMSA experience and think that it NEEDS to be yours. (Alice Lee ‘22)
  • Love every minute. Love the time you get with your friends. Love the challenges you face. (Sage Owen ‘22)

About the Author

Kaylee Zhou
I'm Kaylee, and I am a senior this year. I live in 1502 D-wing, and this is my third year on Acronym. When I'm not doing work I enjoy being with my friends, watching Netflix, and running.

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