Student Experiences in the Second Year: Advancing Strategies for Success Beyond the First Year of College

Institutions typically invest heavily in the first-year experience to promote persistence, yet colleges are also experiencing a pattern of attrition in the second year. The second year is viewed as a period in which students encounter increasing academic, developmental, and social demands, yet the institution tends to provide less support relative to the first year. Using the interpretative phenomenological approach, this article explores sophomores’ perception and understanding of their experience and the intentional approaches institutions can adopt in promoting their success. Semistructured interviews were conducted to analyze students’ experiences in the second year. 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. 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.

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