For many students, the second year of college is the hardest for one simple yet complex reason: The sophomore slump. It’s simple because the overall effect is clear: a feeling of confusion and struggle that comes from studying in the second year of college. But it’s complex, because a number of factors contribute to it. Yet there are ways to ease or even entirely avoid the sophomore slump. And this list is going to highlight the 50 American colleges that are doing this the best!
The sophomore slump is a major threat to students. It happens when a student returns to college after the summer break between their freshman and sophomore years. Often, the first-year experience was exciting and fun. In comparison, the second year is predictable and exhausting. And to make matters worse, there’s also the realization that it’s still going to take a long time to finish college and start earning money in a student’s desired career. While this sounds bleak, some colleges are making sure that sophomore year is, in fact, a high point of college life.
There is no one way for a college to get students over the sophomore slump. Because of that, this article has looked at a wide range of ways that colleges are encouraging second-year students to do thrive. This includes academic encouragement, mental encouragement, physical encouragement and much more. After all, the college experience is made up of so many separate elements, and they all impact one another.
Any one of the colleges on this list is a strong option for a student who wants to ensure that they can get through the most difficult part of college life with ease. But it’s also possible that none of the colleges on this list is right for you. If that’s the case, then this article can still be a vital resource. Every entry has a detailed summary of how the colleges are fighting the sophomore slump. These have been included so that you can compare and contrast them with your own college choices. If any of your potential colleges are approaching second-year happiness like the ones below, then that’s a strong indicator that it’s a great college to attend!
To date, there have been articles that name some colleges that are specifically targeting the sophomore slump. But these articles only list a few colleges. This list greatly expands on those by aggregating their selections and researching other colleges that are implementing similar second-year programs/initiatives.
Our list of articles for sourcing out initial colleges and programs is as follows:
- The New York Times, The Sophomore Slump: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/education/edlife/getting-over-the-sophomore-slump.html
- CollegiateParent, Sophomore slump – Fact or fiction: https://www.collegiateparent.com/academics/sophomore-slump-fact-or-fiction/
- College Magazine, The Sophomore Slump: More Than a Myth: https://www.collegemagazine.com/sophomore-slump-more-myth/
- Inside Higher Ed, We Can No Longer Ignore the Slump: https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2017/09/29/how-improve-retention-sophomore-students-essay
Further college-sophomore programs were sourced by researching colleges from this list:
Niche, 2020 Best Colleges in America: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges/
The colleges in the below list are ranked by the range of sophomore support on offer, evidence that the support is effective, evidence of innovative practices and evidence that the programs will expand in the future.
Our final results, from 50 to one, are below:
50. Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire
Due to Dartmouth College’s unique way of organizing its academic year, students find that they can easily overcome the sophomore slump. Thanks to The D-Plan, sophomore students at this college have more freedom to organize their schedules than students at other colleges. If a student wishes, they can take one term of their sophomore year off and still complete their degree within four years. That’s because the college has four terms per year and lets students choose which of these terms they want to use for study. The only term that a Dartmouth College student must take in the sophomore year is the summer term. There’s a clear advantage to taking a term in the summer time. The better weather will boost happiness levels! However, some students have reported that this flexible schedule can still lead to a sophomore slump. The key to avoiding the sophomore slump with the flexible term schedule is through planning it out appropriately, so that a student can be sure that their time is spent in the best way for them.
49. Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, New York
Every January, Vassar College runs an event called Sophomore Career Connections. This event runs over the course of a weekend and “is designed to introduce second-year students to the vast array of career options available to liberal arts graduates.” The weekend is ideal for getting students on track with their career ambitions. Programming includes alumni mentor meetings, industry career panels, networking opportunities, a keynote address and more. In 2020, 75 alumni and parent mentors attended the event. However, Vassar College does charge students for the event. In 2020, this cost was $100.
48. Bucknell University
Thanks to strong relationships with its community members, Bucknell University is able to offer sophomore students a program called Externships. An externship is a one to two day job shadowing experience, where a second-year student gets to go to an alumni, student parent, or university friend’s workplace to gain hands on experience in a field that interests them. The externships take place over the college’s winter break, meaning that students can gain vital work experience and career drive in what can otherwise be a difficult time.
47. University of Pennsylvania
In 2018, University of Pennsylvania announced that the college was launching the Second-Year Experience (SYE.) This program officially begins in the year 2021. However, the college has already partially integrated aspects of the planned programming into sophomore student life. Currently, the SYE creates a range of events, such as Second Year Day. By 2021 the SYE will be a more more integral part of a sophomore student’s experience. It will require second year students to live in college accommodation and provide continuous opportunities for students to engage with academic advise, co-curricular work, pre-professional exploration and much more.
46. Pomona College
The primary means of getting students over the sophomore slump at Pomona College comes from the Career Development Office. Every year, it hosts the Sophomore Reorientation event. In 2020, this event took place on the first of February. It consisted of one day of programming that allowed students to reflect on their time at the college, learn about the new opportunities and foster connections with alumni. While the Sophomore Reorientation is aimed primarily at Sophomores, as the name of the event implies, Pomona College students of any year can participate.
45. University of Richmond
Any second-year student at University of Richmond can participate in Sophomore Scholars in Residence. Sophomore Scholars in Residence comprises of a range of different living-learning communities. The program requires all students who are participating in a specific community to live in the same building and to undertake learning experiences together. These experiences include individual projects, group projects, community based learning, international field trips and more. Each community is made up of 16 students. In 2020, University of Richmond has Sophomore Scholars in Residence communities for Education in Fiction and Fact, Healthcare, Producing Opera and other diverse subjects.
44. United States Air Force Academy
Air Force Academy, Colorado
In 2019, United States Air Force Academy trialed a sophomore program that pleased both students and college leadership alike. The Adventure Based Learning Program took place the summer before the 2019 start of term and took 1,105 students on an outdoors challenge. The program involved students hiking for an average of 30 miles within 26 hours. It aimed to help the students build leadership and decision making skills, which the students would increasingly need during their sophomore year. The program is likely to expand and improve in future years. Inside Higher Ed notes that some of the academic professors of the United States Air Force Academy are actively working to provide specific sophomore programming to students.
43. Whitman College
Walla Walla, Washington
In 2019, Whitman College piloted its first Sophomore Summit event. It was such a success that in 2020, it only got bigger. The event takes place over a Friday and Saturday in January. It begins with a dinner and a keynote speaker. After this, there are a range of workshops and another dinner. The program is entirely free for sophomore students to participate in and has proved to be an effective way to boost sophomore student prospects. Whitman College’s Sophomore Summit event is sure to expand further in future years.
42. Hamilton College
Clinton, New York
For the first two years of enrollment, Hamilton College students are given personal academic advisors. Faculty advising “sits at the center of a larger system of formal and informal advising resources on campus.” In the sophomore year, the advisors help students with the difficult decisions that they have to make and guide them onto the start of their careers. On top of this, students are always able to participate in an interesting activity, with the Hamilton College campus hosting around 1,000 “concerts, lectures, sporting contests, comedians, blood drives, poetry readings, workshops, debates, worship services, films, gallery openings, coffeehouses, volunteer activities,” and much more every year.
41. Washington & Lee University
Sophomores at Washington & Lee University can access a wide range of opportunities to make their second years purposeful and productive. For instance, sophomores who want to study abroad can access the St Andrews and W&L Partnership, which sends students to University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Additionally, sophomores at the college can access other opportunities for participating in extra study in the fields of science, engineering, math, the environment and more. Washington & Lee University also helps to find funding and opportunities for sophomore students who want to participate in fields that it has not yet listed, ensuring that most second year students can enhance their education.
40. College of the Holy Cross
Throughout the academic year, College of the Holy Cross hosts a wide range of career events specifically for sophomore students. The first event begins on the very first day of classes. It’s called The Career Kick Off and is a low key event that introduces sophomores to Center for Career Development staff members. In addition to this, there are internship search workshops, departmental career panels with alumni, a career fair on campus, the Summer Research Symposium and Internship EXPO and much more.
39. Lafayette College
While Lafayette College does not have a dedicated sophomore program, it does have many programs that have components that are designed to get students over the sophomore slump. One of these programs is Gateway, which is open to all students at any time of their study. In the sophomore year, Gateway helps students develop professional industry contacts and find their first career experiences. Another Lafayette College program that has great sophomore engagement programming is the EXCEL Scholars Program, which allows students to get paid for participating in faculty research projects during study.
38. University of Rochester
Rochester, New York
To guide students through their second year at college, University of Rochester maintains a Sophomore Committee, which aims to “engage and empower sophomores through advocacy, education, programming, and the facilitation of meaningful connections.” The committee members are staff members from across the college, who all have their own ways of contributing to sophomore programming and resources. Current committee members work in University of Rochester’s School of Engineering, Center for Advising Services, Health Service, Career Center, Advancement Department and more areas of the college.
37. College of William & Mary
In the fall of 2019, College of William & Mary implemented the Sophomore Year Experience. It was based on its successful First Year Experience. The program aims to get students over the sophomore slump by implementing several community building measures. Sophomores at the College of William & Mary are now required to reside on campus to “help the university reinforce the support structures potentially lacking for this key population in transition.” There are also a range of programs under the banner title of “Forming Your Experience” that help students with academic exploration, career exploration, health education, wellness practices and community engagement.
36. Colgate University
Hamilton, New York
The name of Colgate University’s primary sophomore event, SophoMORE, describes its focus on giving students more opportunities. It allows second year students to “explore their academic and career interests through conversations with alumni, faculty, staff and upperclassmen. This event takes place over two days and comprises of a mix of skill building sessions, alumni speaker meals, industry panels and huddles. The event takes place in mid-January, making it ideal for overcoming any January blues. Outside of SophoMORE, Colgate University students can also access the Sophomore Residential Seminars Program, which build academic connections by taking sophomores on 7-10 day trips for students to learn in the real world.
35. Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey
Thanks to the Sophomore Action Plan, students at Princeton University are able to shape their second year at the college. This plan outlines three key goals that students should aim to achieve during their second year of study, namely, making academic connections, building leadership skills and building networks. It achieves these goals by connecting students with their faculty advisers at the beginning of the sophomore year. Together, the adviser and student will review the student’s experience of the summer and plan for the sophomore year. The Sophomore Action Plan also suggests other ways that students can make the most of Princeton University for every month of the academic year, such as through attending career fairs and applying for fellowships.
34. University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, California
There are two specific second-year support programs on offer at University of California, San Diego. One of these, 2Connect, is open to all students and consists of drop-in mentoring and self direction follow up programming based on this mentoring. 2Excel is for students who need more dedicated levels of support. It limits its enrollment to 185 sophomores and requires students to have a much more intensive level of mentoring, along with workshops, seminars and more. These programs, through their differing and customizable amounts of commitment, ensure that all University of California, San Diego students are able to get the sophomore support that they deserve.
33. Stanford University
To combat the sophomore slump, Stanford University has created an immersive learning experience called Sophomore College. This program sets out days for students to participate in activities, usually beginning with a class meeting in the morning. Then in the afternoon, sophomores will participate in class activities, explorations of the campus or field trips. In the evenings, the program organizes dorm events and movie screenings. Each class in the Sophomore College consists of 10 to 15 student and two mentors. There are 16 different programs running in 2020, with names like “An Exploration of Art Materials: The Intersection of Art and Science,” and “Inequality and Poverty in the United States.”
32. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Since 2014, Worcester Polytechnic Institute has been running the SophoMORE Success Program. The program has allowed students to “thrive, learn and connect.” Every single term, the college runs a range of events under the SophoMORE Success Program. And when students attend six or more of these events, they are given a certificate of completion. The programming all falls into four different categories, namely academic, career, personal-development and social. In 2019 to 2020, events had names like Co-op Networking Night, Banking Basics, Academic Advising Day and WPI Alumni Social.
31. Minnesota State University, Mankato
The solution to the sophomore slump at Minnesota State University Mankato is through providing learning communities. These communities provide second year students “with academic and social support that leads to success!” These communities mean that students are able to take classes with like minded students, making them both a social and educational enhancement to college life. Current learning communities at the college include groups for business learning, research, classroom education and nursing. College Magazine also cites Minnesota State University Mankato’s sophomore career building services as a great example of a strong sophomore program.
30. Emory University
The leadership team at Emory University has focused its sophomore retention program on the residential aspects of college life. The Second Year at Emory program has a range of milestones that it encourages second year students to achieve. These are identifying core values; describing connections between themselves, others and their communities; developing and strengthening the independence skills needed after graduation; engaging with positive change in the community; and using knowledge and skills from education to help the well-being of others. The New York Times says that the college does this by placing advisers in residence halls, organizing dinners with sophomores and faculty members and creating workshops on goal setting.
29. Bowdoin College
The Career Exploration and Development Department of Bowdoin College has developed a strong sophomore program, Sophomore Bootcamp. It runs for five days in the week before the start of the spring semester. The specific focus of this boot camp is to develop career building skills. Once the five day program is over, every sophomore has a polished resume, a strong cover letter, a range of internship opportunities and a list of professional contacts. There is also a beneficial psychological aspect to this program. It aims to give students a deeper sense of themselves and what they are looking for in a career. Almost 200 students participated in 2020’s Sophomore Bootcamp, out of a total sophomore population of just over 500 students.
28. Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology runs a range of separate sophomore programs. Each one boosts the resilience and prospects of second-year students in a different way. These programs vary from a leadership forum to a newsletter. Perhaps the most effective of these programs is Sophomore Career Experience. Students who register for Sophomore Career Experience meet weekly to participate in workshops, hear speakers and meet mentors. The focus of these meetings is to boost student employability through networking advice, career fair discussion, job interview tips and more.
27. Northeastern University
Sophomore students at Northeastern University are aided with the help of the college’s Housing and Residential Life program. The most wide ranging of its programs is the Second-Year Experience Program, which extends to every sophomore student. This program provides dedicated personal support and community interaction opportunities. Sophomores who want to enter into a more structured program can apply to the Second-Year Thematic Experience Programs (STEP), which helps students succeed by enhancing “their skills and interests through experiential Self- Authored Integrated Learning (SAIL.)” There are three different STEP communities at Northeastern University, which are named Civic Engagement, Entrepreneurship and Healthy U.
26. Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, California
The fall, winter, and spring quarters at Santa Clara University host a range of events that are great at boosting a sophomore student’s positivity and productivity. These events include numerous career fairs, student involvement fairs, study abroad information sessions and more. Santa Clara University students studying in the college’s Leavey School of Business can access a program that runs a range of supportive programming throughout sophomore year, The ACE Program. The ACE Program pairs sophomores up with a junior or senior mentor for support, takes students on a challenge and discovery retreat and organizes Silicon Valley company visits.
25. Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Every second-year student at Bryn Mawr College gets enrolled into the Sophomore Plan course. This course helps students to reflect on their first year experiences and develop the future of their college experience based on this productive mental activity. It also allows students to plan their careers after college. It does this via “workshops, one-on-one advising, and self reflection.” The advising is particularly helpful, as students are able to talk to their deans and a range of other faculty/staff members, meaning that a wide range of people are there to offer students guidance.
24. Georgetown University
The support programs at Georgetown University begin long before study does. For instance, first year students get assigned peer advisors the summer before arriving on the college campus. And these support programs remain in place as students transition into sophomores. However, when a Georgetown University student does enter their sophomore year, they are also able to participate in the Sophomore Success Series. This program brings recent alumni and sophomore students together with the goal of sharing experiences and giving advice. The meetings are informal, being structured around dinners.
23. Colorado College
Colorado Springs, Colorado
All Colorado College students are aided in their second year with the Sophomore Jump program. It provides students “with opportunities to develop their academic plans throughout their sophomore year.” It does this by helping students understand the academic programs available; getting students into off-campus and study abroad programs; assisting with internship opportunities; cultivating faculty relationships; and developing a sense of belonging on campus. College Magazine is especially impressed with the program’s faculty dinners, which let students meet with professors for meals and advice.
22. Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, Massachusetts
The Career Development Center at Mount Holyoke College provides many resources for sophomore students. Second-Year students don’t need to worry about being able to afford to undertake internships or research projects, as the center can provide funding to cover that. It also gives sophomores personality assessment workshops, finding an internship workshops, a designer clothing borrowing program, custom business cards, mock interview sessions and much more. Mount Holyoke College also has a sophomore program named Sophomore Focus, which arranges events aimed at boosting the second year experience throughout the year.
21. Boston College
From August to December, Boston College runs Stride, a program specifically designed for sophomores to feel enthusiastic and motivated. All sophomores can participate. It costs $100 unless a student can demonstrate that they need full or partial assistance to pay for it. But for that $100, students get a kick off event; lectures from some of the college’s top faculty; weekly meetings with seven other sophomores plus a junior or senior leader; and a weekend overnight event focused on leadership, vocation and purpose. Other departments within Boston College also run their own sophomore programming. For instance, the Carroll School of Management has the Sophomore Accelerator and The Women’s Center has Thrive,
20. Tulane University
New Orleans, Louisiana
Sophomore September is, as the name implies, a month long program that gets sophomore students at Tulane University on the right track from the very beginning of study. It mixes both social and professional events. For instance, in 2019, the first day of Sophomore September featured a student activities expo and a movie night. Later in the month, there were grant info lunches, success coaching sessions and more. At the end of September, there is The Sophomore Retreat, which lets students “gain a deeper understanding of school-life balance and wellness.” And the sophomore resources don’t end with September. Tulane University has sophomore support running throughout the year.
19. University of Minnesota
The Second Year Experience program at University of Minnesota makes sure that students enjoy their sophomore year as much as their freshman year. It does this in a number of ways, such as providing a month by month guide, offering major and career resources and much more. Some of the events on offer under the Second Year Experience include activities fairs, study abroad info sessions, community involvement fairs, career/internship fairs, farmers markets and much more. University of Minnesota also allows sophomore students the option of living in specific experience communities of like minded students during the year.
18. St. Lawrence University
Canton, New York
Inside Higher Ed notes that St. Lawrence University’s sophomore program has greatly expanded since its inception in 2007. At first, the program focused around series of short life affirming seminars and discussion dinners. However, thanks to a 2016 grant, the program has greatly expanded in recent years. It now incorporates faculty mentoring, field trips and community based learning. In spring 2020 some of the seminars in the St. Lawrence University Sophomore Success Initiative have titles like “PALS: Promoting Active Laurentian Safety—Action and Awareneness” and “Exploration of Leadership.”
17. Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island
The Matched Advising Program for Sophomores (MAPS) has become a popular way for second year students at Brown University to thrive. It primarily works through pairing sophomore students with either junior or senior student peer mentors. It also organizes opportunities for sophomores to engage with members of the college faculty and makes sophomores aware of the academic and personal resources available across campus. The events that make up MAPS are a mixture of social and academic, with some being workshops on selecting major concentrations and others being dedicated towards cookie decoration. Brown University also runs Sophomore Seminars, which introduces students to “ideas, perspectives, and approaches that are not normally seen side by side in a given course or program.”
16. Villanova University
The Office of First and Second Year Initiatives at Villanova University runs a range of programs that help sophomore students succeed. One of these is the Sophomore Service Learning Community, which allows students to use their education to help poor and marginalized communities. Villanova University’s Center for Access, Success and Achievement also offers dedicated sophomore student support through the Advising, Counseling, Tutoring, Information to enhance the Villanova Experience (ACTIVE.) ACTIVE’s sophomore activities include helping students develop strategies, helping with major selection, providing tutoring, providing leadership development, managing social relations and developing “What’s Next” plans.
15. St. Olaf College
Every year, St. Olaf College runs the Quo Vadis Sophomore Retreat for all of its second year students. Quo Vadis is a Latin phrase that translates to “where are you going?” The retreat, which takes place in the fall term, addresses exactly that. It begins on a Friday and ends the next day. During the retreat, sophomores engage with “a supportive community of fellow students, staff, faculty, and alumni.” Events in the retreat include talks from important college figures, group conversations, alumni panels, outdoor relaxation time and much more. Sophomore students at St. Olaf College can also access an exclusive scholarship of up to $16,500 to fund community service projects.
14. Johns Hopkins University
The Second Year Experience program at Johns Hopkins University has the ambitious aim of making sophomore students’ second years at the college “truly transformational.” The Second Year Experience allows students to engage with its campus community as much as possible. It does this by organizing events and managing one on one mentoring with college faculty or staff. This mentoring program, named the Links Program, has become a vital part of many sophomore students’ education, with the mentor becoming “their first point of contact for help with complicated processes or difficult experiences.” In addition to this, The Second Year Experience gets sophomores to engage with and work shadow Johns Hopkins alumni, to give the students focus on their ultimate career goals.
13. University of Texas at Dallas
Thanks to the Cometline to Success, students at University of Texas at Dallas are able to navigate their sophomore year with ease. Cometline to Success connects students to a range of services that ease the pressures of studies and help plan for the future, such as scholarships, job opportunities, career expos and more. A range of sophomore events also complement the Cometline to Success. Every semester, students can attend events with names like “Survive and Thrive the Sophomore Slump” and “Smart Spending.” College Magazine commends University of Texas at Dallas for its sophomore career planning resources.
12. Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
Collegiate Parent is quick to highlight Colorado State University’s True Faculty Story Dinner Series as an incredible program that is on offer exclusively to second year students. This series allows students to build up mentorship like relationships between sophomores and faculty members. But this is only just scratching the surface of all of the retention and success focused services available to second-year students a Colorado State University. These all fall under the banner of the Year 2 @ CSU Program. Programming includes a culturally immersive alternative spring break, academic transition workshops, outdoor experiences, online events, a monthly newsletter, a blog and more
11. Connecticut College
New London, Connecticut
To ensure that second year students thrive, Connecticut College has appointed a dean of sophomores. The Dean of Sophomores, Carmela Patton, “is responsible for working directly with sophomore students and for developing programming that helps sophomores strengthen their connections with the College while helping them prepare to select a major, apply to the College’s academic centers and move successfully into their upper-class years.” One current second year program is the Sophomore Leadership Programs, which is a 10 week series of workshops that develop sophomore students’ strengths, values, skills and more. Inside Higher Ed praises the way that Connecticut College has refined its sophomore programming since 2007.
10. Ohio State University
The New York Times and Collegiate Parent both discuss Ohio State University’s sophomore retention efforts. The main way that the college conducts this activity is through an initiative called the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP.) Participants in STEP have to fulfill six requirements: live either on campus, in Greek affiliated housing or at home with a close relative; attend weekly meetings with faculty mentors and group peers; submit a reflection on college programs; complete a financial wellness program; attend a STEP Expo; engage in mentor led events and meetings; create a proposal and budget for a fellowship; return for their third year; and maintain a 2.0 GPA. If a student does these things, then they will be able to receive a $2,000 scholarship.
9. Indiana University, Bloomington
To combat the sophomore slump, Indiana University has created four different programs. Each one is run by a different college department, and each one has its own way of boosting sophomore student satisfaction. The Division of Student Affairs runs a range of events, such as Chew on This, which are lunch time workshops, and Sophomore Socials. The Office of Student Employment offers a range of services related to career building and work-study funding. The Division of Undergraduate Education vets employers and positions to ensure that second year students have amazing internship opportunities. Lastly, The Office of Housing and Residential Life encourages students to make campus connections (and provides a $250 per semester stipend to students who participate.)
8. Wellesley College
Of all of the sophomore opportunities on offer at Wellesley College, perhaps the most innovative is the Sophomore Leadership Living Community. This program has created a living and learning space for second-year students who all share the common goal of growing their leadership identities and personal understandings of leadership in their sophomore year. Students who choose to live in this community participate in an off-campus retreat, have weekly meetings with each other, collaborate on a leadership project and more. Sophomores at Wellesley College who are not interested in participating in a leadership community will find plenty of support initiatives on campus. For instance, in October there is a tree planting event, and in January, there is a career retreat. If this weren’t good enough, then sophomores can also receive $2,100 stipends to participate in research projects.
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Throughout their sophomore year, students at MIT have The Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP) to guide them. This program welcomes second year students from all majors. Its mission is to serve as a “career success accelerator” for sophomores. UPOP has been running since 2001. In the last 19 years, the program has had lots of success in making students think strategically about their careers. It does this by teaching real world skills, providing coaching from successful alumni, taking students on field trips to companies, giving one on one counseling, organizing networking events, holding company panel discussions and much more. UPOP is one of the largest co-curricular programs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with almost half of second year students participating in it.
6. Haverford College
In 2018, Haverford College’s sophomore support system received a major boost. That’s because the Dean of Student Engagement and Leadership Initiatives created SoHo, which is short for Sophomore House. SoHo focuses on guiding sophomores through the year by assigning six student employees to the task. The students all live in the same apartment, allowing them to collaborate closely on “designing, planning, and executing events for sophomores that seek to support fellow students during the year.” Haverford College’s other sophomore focused programs work to build second year students’ employability and career skills. Two such programs are the Sophomore Success Series and the Sophomore Resume Initiative.
5. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, New York
The Sophomore Career Experience (SCE) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is so good that is has won a NACE Excellence Award. This program is incredibly effective in cultivating a second-year student’s career skills. This is thanks to The Center for Career and Professional Development teaming up with a range of corporate partners to give students fun, informative events that help with job searching and career skills. This program lets students get direct experience from experts in their desired career path and gives students resources, such as padfolios. Events in the Sophomore Career Experience (SCE) include networking nights, career fairs and resume improvement sessions.
4. Case Western Reserve University
The sophomore program at Case Western Reserve University, Second-Year Institute, describes itself as being “innovative and highly interactive.” It does this by letting sophomore students have extensive access to a range of college faculty, staff members, upper-class students and fellow second year students to develop personal and professional plans for the future. The Second-Year Institute has helped many Case Western Reserve University students, with participants saying things like, “I learned how to better utilize my strengths with regard to personal interactions and my activities at CWRU.” Additionally, the college’s Residential Life department also runs a program called Second-Year Experience. Second-Year Experience allows sophomore students to live in suite-style accommodations with a small group of friends, while giving easy access to wider programs and larger college community facilities.
3. Gettysburg College
All second-year students at Gettysburg College are expected to participate in the Sophomore Success Program. The Sophomore Success Program consists of six different units, all with their own second-year student boosting focus. The first unit is The Second Year Kick Off, which lets students discuss the importance of the second year with community advisors and house leaders. Then there is the Sophomore Career Check-In, which helps students cater their second year to their career goals. After this, there are peer advice sessions, advice card sessions and campus engagement opportunities. As an incentive, Gettysburg College students who participate in the most units in the Sophomore Success Program go on to have better housing options in their junior year.
2. Trinity University
San Antonio, Texas
Thanks to Sophomore College, second-year students at Trinity University are able to live in an exciting and fun environment that also supports them throughout study. Sophomore College is both a residence hall and a program. To ensure that sophomore students are happy and productive, a range of resident assistants, who are junior and senior students, live with the sophomores. Programming that the resident assistants help with cover the topics of selecting a major, building social connections, identifying strengths and studying abroad. Sophomore College also organizes a range of faculty, alumni and other university office events to keep students engaged. Trinity University has even won an award from the National Association of Student Personnel in excellence in student affairs programming for Sophomore College.
1. Carleton College
For a college with a small enrollment of around 500 sophomore students per year, Carleton College has ample sophomore programming. At the start of the year, sophomore students get to participate in Sophomorphosis, a two week series of programs and special events designed to get sophomore students productive and positive. The events during Sophomorphosis are wide ranging, with there being a majors fair, a resume writing class, a health information session and much more. Outside of Sophomorphosis, second year students at Carleton College have many resources. The college even directs students to 23 different fellowships that are open to sophomore students. And last but not least, the college also offers sophomores the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary year long project that gives students a chance to “choose and design a study plan that plays off their interests and strengths.” This program, named FOCUS, has in the past allowed students to create projects centered around light pollution, air pollution, addiction and much more.
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