Breahna Lesemann –
The Sophomore Experience, a new program at Illinois College designed to assist underclassmen in achieving their goals, was created through strategic mapping, which is a plan with multiple groups of staff members working to improve different areas of the school.
One of the teams that Dean Carlson is a part of was assigned to connect careers and Liberal Arts. This committee saw that the first year students had an elaborate experience with the first year seminar, convocations, and service initiatives.
After their First-Year Experience, students are left on their own to handle their sophomore year and as the committee continued to talk about this problem, they realized how critical the sophomore year is.
Sophomore year is the year that the students begin to re-evaluate the different activities and clubs that they have gotten involved with. It is also a year that students really start to think about what they will major in and then what they will have to do in their junior and senior year to obtain that major.
To assist in this process, the Sophomore Experience was created. There are different stages of goals in mind for the Sophomore Experience. The first stage is immediate goals. One of these goals is to create an advisory committee this semester made up of students, faculty, and staff that would help in further planning for the Sophomore Experience.
Another goal is to have focus groups comprised of first and second year students. In these groups the students will discuss their experiences in school. The first years will be asked about what concerns they have and what they would like help with in the following year. The second year students will talk about what worked their sophomore year, what didn’t, and what are the things that they still need help with.
Another immediate goal is the Discovery Workshops organized by Susie Drake and Katrina Jenkins. There have already been two of these workshops. In these workshops, people such as the professors here at Illinois College come in and talk about the different jobs that are available for different majors.
The second stage of goals is intermediate. A part of this stage is to have better communication when a student changes majors, so that all the information about the student is given to their new major advisor from their first year seminar advisor.
For the last stage, the long term stage, one of the things that is planned is Urban Job Shadowing. The student will choose a city, such as Chicago or St. Louis, and they will be matched with someone in a particular career field for three days. Through this they can gain knowledge of the career they are shadowing and see what it is like to work in a large city.
They are hoping that they will be able to hire someone who could oversee the whole Sophomore Experience by coordinating and advertising some of the programs and handling the budget. This person would help with teaching and learning development, as well as summer workshops. Overall this person would help with the different things that give students new experiences.
Other people at Illinois College would help with this as well. One plan is having workshops during the convocation hour that would count as a convocation credit. This could include resume workshops or people talking about their careers.
“We want to engage students and have them feel very much a part of this, so that it is not always someone just talking at them,” said Dean Carlson. This is not officially approved yet, so there is a possibility that this part of the plan will not happen.
Some of the Sophomore Experience has already been implemented such as the workshops, and soon the focus groups and Advisory Committee will be made. The implementation of the Sophomore Experience will be gradual and each year there will be new things enacted when the details for them are put together.
Breahna Lesemann, from Bath, Illinois, is a sophomore majoring in English Education with a minor in Theatre at Illinois College. Breahna is a writer for the The Rambler and a member of the IC concert choir.