Academic Advising Resources


Sophomore Slump to Sophomore Surge: Suggestions for advising sophomores

Authored By: Heidi Koring


Results of the 2005 survey on Sophomore-Year initiatives conducted by the National Resource Center for the Freshman Year Experience and Students in Transition shows that institutions of higher education are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of the sophomore year experience . Thirty-three percent of the institutions surveyed reported having at least one initiative focused toward sophomore students. Furthermore, sixty-one percent of those reporting a sophomore initiative responded that academic advising was a sophomore-directed initiative.
Based upon these results here are four suggestions to enhance advising directed at sophomore students:

  • Develop a sophomore mission statement. Most advisors and freshman agree that freshman year is a year of transition and exploration. However, not all advisors and students have a clear vision for the developmental tasks of the sophomore year. Here is a sample sophomore mission statement developed by Lynchburg Collge: "Lynchburg College empowers sophomore students to define themselves through academic success, career pathways, community engagement and leadership experience." The mission provides an agenda for student and advisor interaction.
  • Create advising partnerships with the Career Development Center. More than seventy-four percent of those reporting a sophomore-level initiative said that career planning is a sophomore-directed initiative. For advisors to guide students toward effective career planning, they must be familiar with the services offered by the institution's Career Development Center and work in close partnership with career developmental personnel. Those responsible for advisor training should plan events and create resources to create advisor familiarity with career planning resources.
  • Beware of the hand-off. Sixty-five percent of schools reporting a sophomore initiative referenced programs to assist sophomores in choosing a major. The sophomore year is often when students transition from a freshman advisor to and advisor in the major. This hand-off can be impersonal transaction if it is not managed well. Individual advisors should take care to personalize the change, contacting students by email  or phone and inviting them to their offices for a visit. Advisors should take time during the first visit to build rapport intentionally rather than sticking to academic business. Advisors need to clarify the most efficient and effective ways of making contact and how they define their advising roles. This is especially true if students are transitioning from an advising center with liberal drop-in hours to a faculty advisor in the major who has limited time to spend with advisees. Academic departments, schools, and programs can facilitate advisor contact by hosting departmental open houses or other social events targeted for sophomore advisors and advisees.
  • Reorient sophomores. Most colleges and universities have effective freshman orientations at which new students are introduced to campus resources. However, sophomores may be using a different set of resources in their new major, school, or department. For instance, a school or department my have activities, organizations or learning support targeted to students in a major. Open houses or other social events hosted by academic departments, schools and programs can assist in the sophomore reorientation process. School and departmental web pages can have links to resources commonly used by sophomores.

In addition to using the Career Development Center, sophomores may be using resources devoted to internships or study abroad. Sophomores may also be using degree audit programs to track their academic progress. Just as freshman advisors are key personnel orienting new students to campus resources, so should sophomore advisors ensure that their advisees are aware of needed resources.

Heidi Koring
Lynchburg College

To learn more about the Sophomore Year Initiative survey see the National Resource Center for the Freshman Year Experience and Students in Transition.

  • Resources applicable to advising sophomore students
  • Overview of issues surrounding advising sophomore students

Cite this using APA style as:

Koring, H. (2005), Sophomore slump to sophomore surge: Suggestions for advising sophomores. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources website:

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