Beyond the First-Year:
Engaging and Retaining Second-year
Lora Leigh Chrystal, PWSE
John Burnett, NREM
Overview of presentation
• What is the Sophomore Slump?
• What are the Issues?
• Iowa State
– Retention rates
– Examples of existing programs
• Women in Science and Engineering
• Natural Resource and Ecology Management
– Voices of Experiences: participants & mentors
– What can we do as a community?
What is the “sophomore slump”
• Characterized by
– higher-than-expected attrition from the sophomore to
– reduced motivation; and
– declining academic performance
• First-year vs. Second-year students
– First year is a focus on external transitions
• adjusting to college, new friends
– second year is a focus on internal transitions
• who am I, why are these people my friends, what am I going
to do with the rest of my life, etc.
Issues facing second year students
• Intensified curriculum
• Finding purpose in academic coursework
• Career and major selection issues
• Having “Plan B” ready
• Perception that institutional support has
• Balancing peer relationships
• Cost/benefit ratio
• Thoughts of transferring
• Negative behavioral patterns catch up to them
– (Schreiner & Pattengale, 2000)
• Know your students and their issues in order to target
• Survey existing programs and resources and package for
sophomores then fill in the gaps with missing elements
• Utilize advisors (as part of the above bullet) and make
them aware of issues facing sophomores
• Experiential opportunities (internships, research, study
abroad, service learning) that connect students to their
major & future
• Encourage reflection and personal responsibility for
Why is this important at ISU
• Retention of ISU Students
– Handout or
(Retention and Graduation Rates, Freshman and Transfer, p. 56)
• Retention of STEM Students to a STEM
– Handout or
(Retention Data on WiSE First-year Learning Communities)
• Do you think second-year students need
continued attention? Why or Why not?
• What does the 2-year retention look like in your
• Do these highlights from the literature resonate
with your own observations? Are there other
issues you have observed in your
• How does your department/unit support firstyear
students? What do you do for second-year
WiSE Second-year LC: Overview
• University Studies 201: WiSE Second-year
(1cr.) Course (fall)
– reaffirm career decisions, continued career
exploration, and development of professional
and leadership skills.
• Networking with Faculty and Professionals
• Seminars (etiquette, internships, resume)
• Job Shadow/Tour Opportunities (spring)
– Rockwell-Collins; General Mills; Des Moines University; Blank
Park Zoo; DNR; Lennox; Pella
• Transitions Learning Community
– Sophomore Students
– Transfer Students
• Sophomore Fall Forestry Camp Series
– Six courses
– Coordinated Learning Outcomes
Questions for students
• How has returning for your second-year
been different from your first-year?
• What issues have you faced this year?
(academics, financial aid, career plans, personal relationships, etc.)
• Has participating in a career development
course been beneficial? If so, how? If not,
What can we do?
• What opportunities do you see within your
• What roadblocks do you see within your
• What programs do you have in place that
could be “packaged” for second-year
• Assessment. Understand your
department/unit and your students
• Prevention. Use the 1st year to prepare
students for the sophomore year
• Planning. Focus on career and financial
• Participation. Involved students are
more likely to persist
• What are your retention rates to your
• What are specific issues for your students?
• What is one idea from today that you could
implement in your department?
• How could you use the first-year learning
community experience to help counter the
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efforts. Unpublished dissertation. University of Wisconsin- Madison.
• Freedman, M. B. (1956). The passage through college. Journal of Social Issues, 12, 13-27.
• Gahagan, J. & Hunter, M. S. (2006). The second-year experience: Turning attention to the
academy’s middle child. About Campus, 11(3), 17-22.
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