The lost sophomore

Jill Byerly

University doing more to encourage involvement

Natalie Kyle is only one college sophomore who is left out in the cold while freshmen, juniors and seniors are offered endless opportunities to get involved on campus.

Sophomores at Kent State and other universities are becoming a national issue because they have been “lost” in the university world.

Specific programs are aimed at college freshmen to keep them in school, while other programs are aimed at juniors and seniors to help them prepare for graduation and their future careers.

“Last year we were bombarded with programs,” Kyle, a sophomore physical education major, said. “Now it’s like they forget to incorporate us into the mix.”

Universities are beginning to look at outreach programs for sophomores. Some of the current advancements at other schools are residence-hall based, while others include sophomore-year programs and retreats prior to the semester.

“Sophomores have become the buzz word,” said Brenda McKenzie, interim director of the Center for Student Involvement.

Kent State is currently working to create and aim new programs to its sophomores. Expedition U, a new program taking place on March 10 in the Student Center, aims to help sophomores take the information they already know about college life and their major and help them to make a plan for their remaining time at Kent State.

“Students’ second year is the drop-off point for student involvement,” said Megan Igoe, graduate student assistant for higher education administration. “We either have them participating at the end of freshmen year or we lose them.”

Students believe that having a job can take up the time that they might use to get involved on campus.

“I work three to four times a week,” Kyle said. “Even if I found something I really wanted to do, I might not have time the time.”

McKenzie believes the lack of programs can be detrimental to the student’s college experience.

“Of the retained freshmen, at the end of their second year, we loose about 9 to 10 percent,” McKenzie said. “Some are attributed to the ‘lost’ concept, and some can be attributed to the student changing their major, and Kent State doesn’t have it.”

Kent State is trying to do two things specifically for sophomores. Sophomores receive a newsletter, once during the fall and once during the spring, with helpful topics that pertain to them.

The second initiative encourages sophomores to get involved with a mentoring program on campus that allows them to help freshmen get accustomed to college life. The program also allows sophomores to familiarize themselves with the realistic responsibilities of working in a specific major.

“Typically in students’ sophomore year, they look at themselves and start deciding who they want to be,” McKenzie said. “They meet so many people freshmen year, and they start to re-evaluate who they truly want to be friends with. Their core group of friends might get smaller, but its a tight group of friends.”

Although sophomores are currently considered “lost” in the university world, schools around the nation are starting to create programs to help them stay focused and find their place in the universities.

Contact student affairs reporter Jill Byerly at [email protected].