Sophomore Year Experience Creates A Culture of Curiosity to Smooth Transition for Second Year Students

sophmoreyearexperience.jpgClass selection and academic resources are changing for first and second year students at Sonoma State University with the introduction of the voluntary Sophomore Year Experience Program (SYE).

This program, designed to help freshman transition to their sophomore year and prepare for the remainder of their college careers, began last year as a pilot program and is now expanding further among the university this year.

The gap between students' freshman and sophomore year is one that has proven to be vital in Sonoma State student's futures. Sophomore year is a time when college students should be thinking about declaring a major, applying for internships and enrolling in courses outside of the limits of the general education pattern.

alvinnguyen.jpgCoordinator for the Sophomore Year Experience Program, Alvin Nguyen advises students to start thinking about their future and academics early on in their college years.

"Sophomore year is a pivotal time in a [student's] college career. It is a great time to use what [students'] have learned in their first year to springboard to the rest of their college careers and beyond," said Nguyen.

Nguyen emphasizes the importance of making a successful transition past students' first year at Sonoma State and discusses the prevalence of the "sophomore slump" many
students experience after their freshman year.

"Because the second year of college is when students take on added responsibilities and make decisions that may affect the rest of their lives, many sophomores struggle with major declaration, career indecision and campus acclimation," said Nguyen.

Peer Facilitator for the SYE program during the 2013/2014 academic year and Sonoma State student, Nick Heitkamp sees the positive impact that the sophomore courses and resources had on students last year.

"I am happy to have been a part of this effort and view the SYE program as a key component in enriching the lives of students in a such a critical year of their college experience," said Heitkamp.

Heitkamp also emphasizes the need for a program that prepares sophomores for upper division level courses as well as the importance of critical thinking in an academic setting.

"Overall, I wish I would have had a class like this my sophomore year to really explain to me the elements of not only thinking like a social scientist, but also what it means to think critically, in an academic way, about our world," said Heitkamp.

Currently, SYE offers sophomores the "How to Think Like a Social Scientist" (SSCI 299) course in both the fall and spring semesters. This class is intended to give students' necessary critical thinking skills as well as perspectives on a wide array of world issues and topics. The class is open to sophomores of all majors.

"Many of our resources and efforts are traditionally focused on the transition of first-year students to the university, and these efforts play a crucial role in retaining our students into their second-year," said Nguyen.

SYE incorporates both "curricular" and "co-curricular" options and programs for sophomores to participate in. The "co-curricular" side of SYE encourages students to get involved in campus organizations and clubs, while the "curricular" aspect advocates the academic resources and courses designed with the mission and goals for sophomores of SYE in mind.

Nguyen references the importance of "building a culture of curiosity where students can find out what they're interested in during their second year of college."

Nguyen also references the importance of "building a culture of curiosity [within SYE] where students can find out what they're interested in [during their second year of college.]"

All of the classes and campus organizations SYE supports and organizes are meant to help students explore career interests as well as social interests throughout their second year of college.

On campus, SYE has partnered with Join Us Making Progress (JUMP), Associated Students, the U-Engage Program and others, all of which support the objectives of the SYE program.

So far, SYE is works with the department of social sciences with the SSCI 299 course and is beginning to work with other academic schools and departments as the semester continues.

The School of Arts and Humanities has also introduced its Second Year Research and Creative Experience (SYRCE), a multidisciplinary course designed for second-year students to fulfill GE Area C2 requirements. With lectures on Tuesdays, and seminar meetings on Thursdays, SYRCE proposes a multidisciplinary approach to a common topic, which is 1848, for the 2014-15 academic year. Most Arts & Humanities programs are involved, including Arts, American Multicultural Studies, Chicano Latino Studies, Communications, English, Modern Languages & Literatures, Music, Philosophy as well as Theatre Arts & Dance.

The SYE program has proven to be an asset to the Sonoma State University campus thus far by its renewal for the 2014/15 academic years. Over time, administration as well as students will provide feedback on the long-term benefits of the SYE program.

- Kayla Galloway

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