New committee works to get more sophomores involved on campus

Adam Griffiths

If the majority of sophomores are like Brent Miller’s friends, they don’t feel like there’s enough going on on campus for them.

“I have sophomore friends that say, ‘I want to get involved, but I don’t know how,'” Miller, English and theater major, said.

Since the beginning of this semester, the Sophomore Success Committee has been working to increase programming for second-year students on campus. Events this semester included an ice skating social, participation at the Homecoming Spirit Festival and attendance at Kent Interhall Council’s Sextoberfest.

THE SOPHOMORE SLUMP

What’s been dubbed the “Sophomore Slump” is not a problem exclusive to Kent State.

Sophomores are a buzzword in higher education today, said Brenda McKenzie, interim director of the Center for Student Involvement.

“We’ve been talking about freshmen forever, and there’s programs that exist for seniors,” she said. “Suddenly, the light bulb has kind of gone on that second-year students are sort of in this void. There’s not a whole lot directed at them.”

An article in the Sept. 8, 2006, issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education dubbed sophomores “higher education’s middle children.” The article cited a 2003 report from the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange that of the 81 percent of freshmen enrolled in post-secondary institutions who returned as sophomores, only 70 percent of those students were still enrolled as juniors in 2005.

At Kent State, persistence rates haven’t changed much in the past three years. Seventy percent of freshmen make it to their sophomore year, and 60 percent of the original freshmen class make it to their junior year, according to the Office of Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness.

– Adam Griffiths

For Leah Kasmenn, sophomore early childhood education major and president of the committee, the aim of the group is simple – “try to get sophomores involved and keep them active on campus.” Kasmenn was a Week of Welcome leader last year and wanted to remain active in campus programming.

“I think there’s always programming, but I don’t think there’s something specifically dedicated to sophomores,” Kasmenn said.

The committee grew out of the Freshman Advisory Council, said Brenda McKenzie, interim director of the Center for Student Involvement.

“We do a great job with first year students, and then the second year, they kind of get ignored,” McKenzie said. “It seemed to make sense.”

Some of the members of last year’s FAC, including Miller, who’s vice-president of the committee, helped draft a proposal. The purpose of the organization is:

• to promote the importance of networking, leadership, community service and career-building skills among second-year students.

• to create mentor relationships between sophomores and freshmen.

• to aid sophomore students in choosing a major.

• to connect sophomore students with campus resources and encourage connections between students and their academic advisers.

Danny Blair, sophomore finance major and treasurer of the committee, was part of FAC and helped draft the proposal to continue his own advancement as well as that of his class. He said the group has been slow to get started this semester due to members’ conflicting schedules and difficulty promoting the committee.

McKenzie, Kasmenn and Miller agreed. Recruitment of new members, planning more academic programs and more community service are top priorities for Spring 2008.

“They’ve been more visible and out there, and that’s really what their focus has been this semester,” McKenzie said. “They’re going to really look at being active from a programming standpoint.”

Any sophomores interested in joining the committee can contact Kasmenn at (740) 361-6548 or Miller at (330) 204-8765.

Contact student life reporter Adam Griffiths at [email protected]