Regardless of whether your student has declared his/her major or is still exploring options, sophomore year is a key time for academics and advising.
For many students, this is the time they begin to understand the value and interconnectedness of their courses, the importance of having meaningful faculty interactions/mentoring, and the benefits of co-curricular and experiential learning activities.
And yet, there may be times they experience frustrations and challenges along the way. However, unlike freshmen, sophomores may be less inclined to ask for assistance.
While first-year students primarily focus their attention on connecting to their institution, sophomores are faced with connecting to a particular academic discipline. For some students, this task is easy. For others, it can be a time of uncertainty and/or feeling like they are headed in the wrong direction.
Your student's academic advisor can help him/her define an area of academic study as well as assist with related sophomore issues, including concerns that arise from:
- Feeling pressured to pick a major/minor.
- Second-guessing the choice of a declared major/minor.
- Questioning the adequacy of his/her academic capabilities and skills as coursework becomes more challenging.
- Feeling insecure about being in class with upperclassmen who may have more advanced academic skills.
- Questioning the relevance of coursework outside his/her major.
- Trying to schedule academic courses as well as experiential learning opportunities (e.g., study abroad, internship, independent study).
- Wondering if he/she will be able to get a job or get into graduate school.
Perhaps it isn't surprising to learn that research shows there is a correlation between a sophomore's grade point average and having both a commitment to an academic major as well as opportunities for productive faculty interaction.
At BW, students are asked to commit to an academic major by the end of their sophomore year. This focus enables students to direct their coursework, experiential learning activities and co-curricular involvement to areas that will enable them to build their resumes, establish meaningful contacts and acquire relevant insights and competencies over the next few years.
Your student's academic advisor is a faculty member in the discipline declared by your student as his/her major. A faculty advisor helps a student select classes, suggests experiential learning opportunities and reviews his/her Graduation Plan. In addition, the advisor discusses internships, employment and graduate school options.
For many students, an academic advisor also can be a mentor, a reference for employment or graduate school, as well as someone who offers a listening ear during times of need.
In addition to his/her academic advisor, your student can benefit from knowing other faculty members both within and outside his/her major. These individuals can help guide and mentor your student. Students can get to know faculty members better by participating in Undergraduate Research and Creative Studies, internships and co-curricular activities, as well as meeting with them during office hours.
Focus on Studying
In addition to establishing ongoing relationships with academic advisors and faculty members, your student can benefit from following a few basic study practices:
- Don't skip classes.
- Pay attention to the expectations, teaching styles and grading methods of all your professors.
- Focus on wellness through good nutrition, sleeping habits and other practices.
- Learn ways to study effectively and efficiently.
- Take good notes during classes and read textbooks as assigned.
- Polish writing and reading comprehension skills so you can earn high marks on term papers and tests.
- Seek clarification from a professor if you misunderstand information in his/her lecture or in the textbook.
- If you are struggling in a course, make an appointment to talk with the professor and visit the Learning Center and Writing Lab, if needed. ETutoring is another resource.
- Visit the Office of Academic Advising if you have questions and/or need assistance.
Changing Academic Advisors
Sometimes students need to switch their advisor. This can be the result of changing majors, having personality differences or something else. To do so, students should contact the Office of Academic Advising.