In the past decade, many institutions have developed first-year programs and are seeing positive results. Students are being retained at greater levels, earning more credits and doing better than students who do not participate in such programs. The success of first-year initiatives have been so pronounced on many campuses that the questions of persistence and retention of sophomore students arose. As a result, recent research has focused on second-year students and their process of reflecting on their educational experiences and exploring their academic interests. This research has shown that during their sophomore year students experience significant growth and change.
Nearly 130 higher education institutions have addressed the issues that sophomores face by designing programs specifically for second-year students. The seven distinct categories for sophomore programming are advising, curricular offerings, mentoring, residence life, financial aid, events and publications. Several programs include a second-year academic advising model that centers on clarifying personal goals, helping students find a sense of direction for their lives, and providing assistance with the career planning process. Furthermore, academic research has broadened and deepened the academy’s understanding of second-year students. In her 2005 article “Wandering and wondering: Traversing the uneven terrain of the second college year”, Molly Schaller describes a four-stage model that second-year students move through in their decision-making process.
At the 2008 NACADA National Conference in Chicago, there was a pre-conference session, a poster session and two concurrent sessions that addressed the topic of advising second-year students. All of these sessions were very highly attended. In addition, there was a sign-up list posted on the conference bulletin board and an informal lunch arranged for advisers interested in becoming involved in this potential group. Twenty-five conference participants signed the list and approximately twelve advisers met for lunch to discuss best practices of advising sophomores.
Due to this growing recognition of second-year issues and their impact on student success, the Advising Second-Year Students Interest Group intends to bring together advisers, faculty and other student services staff who work with sophomores. The forum will be designed to address the needs of second-year students and to engage the greater advising community in pertinent educational issues. Through on-line dialogue, and meetings at the national conventions, participants can share advising strategies, programs, and resources. The group will encourage presentations at local, regional and national conferences, support second-year research and scholarship, and act as a resource for educational professionals working with second-year students.
Schaller, M.A. (2005, July-August). Wandering and wondering: Traversing the uneven terrain of the second college year. About Campus,10,17-24.