Retention and the significance of sophomores

Recent research by Dr. Althea J. Sterling finds that while institutions invest heavily in first-year programs, more focus is needed on persistence in the second year, which brings increasing academic, developmental and social demands. Drawing from qualitative research as well as student interviews, Sterling’s recent SEMQ article looked at the perceptions and issues of sophomore students.

“The findings suggest that sophomores are in the process of establishing their identity, re-evaluating their purpose and collegiate experience; consequently the need for a different kind of support is apparent,” writes Sterling, assistant dean for student services at Touro Law Center. “Second-year students are experiencing an internal transition and are still in need of year-specific support to successfully meet the demands of progressing through college.”

Sterling offers strategies for retaining students in their second year and helping them succeed, including: mentoring, sophomore-specific orientation, academic and career exploration, promotion of undergraduate research and improved communication about information, events and narratives.

Other features in this issue include: “Workforce Optimization and Alignment: One School's Approach to Organizational Design” by Erin Finn; “The Significance of Campus Visitations to College Choice and Strategic Enrollment Management,” by Scott Secore; and “A Review of the Literature: The Needs of Nontraditional Students in Postsecondary Education,” by Kris MacDonald.

For more information, or to submit a manuscript, please contact Managing Editor Heather Zimar at