How to do more for college sophomores

Research from Daytona University in Ohio provides helpful advice for higher ed officials

Researchers believe more universities need to join the growing number of schools focusing resources on sophomores. “Sophomore-specific classes increase relationships with faculty and provide a platform to get through the decision-making process,” says Molly Schaller, an associate professor at Dayton University in Ohio who has studied sophomores for the past 20 years.

Her research finds the most successful programs focus on the long haul—meaning major curricular revisions like sophomore-only classes, allowing students to take courses in their prospective major, and avoiding the large lecture hall style classes often given during their second year. In addition, sophomores thrive under support programs targeted outside the classroom, such as academic advising and support.

Schaller recommends administrators also consider their underrepresented population and nontraditional students, who often have additional concerns during sophomore year, such as supporting children or family.

Colleges looking to start a program should “think big” and remember that even welcoming sophomores back to school during a football game lets them know they continue to be an important part of the university, Schaller says.

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