Sophomore Year Experience (SYE)

Elizabethtown created the SYE to tackle the sense of drift—or “sophomore slump”1—reported by sophomores nationwide. The SYE is designed to ease the transition from the structured programs of the first year to the more independent programs, like internships and research experiences, associated with the junior and senior years.

There are only a handful of colleges and universities that have a Sophomore Experience Program, and none does as good of a job as Elizabethtown does at integrating the First-Year Experience Program and the Sophomore Experience Program.

1 Sophomore Slump

soph•o•more slump - Noun

a feeling of being caught between directions and not knowing which path to choose

Download the Compass - Sophomore Year Academic Advising Handbook

Goals of the Sophomore Experience

Traditions and Communal Experiences

Provide ritual experiences and traditions to mark the beginning and end of the sophomore year, and to highlight to sophomores the significance of the sophomore year in their academic, professional, and vocational development.

Integrate CORE learning with Majors/Minors

Promote curricular pathways that integrate majors and minors with the students’ Core curriculum, and in particular the Signature Learning Experiences of the Real World Learning program.

Explore Vocation and Life Purpose

To help each student determine his or her distinct path in terms of career goals, life aspirations, and the practical steps (such as engaging in undergraduate research, internships, and study abroad) that will render those objectives achievable. 

Sophomore Events:

The Sophomore Year Experience begins with the Sophomore Class Opening Dinner, a formal occasion to bring sophomores together as a group, celebrate the start of the academic year, and initiate conversations about vocation. The Opening Dinner is held every September in the KAV. In the summer each rising sophomore will receive an invitation in the mail. Please look for the invitation at your home address and send the response card promptly.

In 2018, 97 percent of student attendees said that the dinner provided a positive "kick-off" to their sophomore year, and 91 percent indicated that the event helped them recognize the importance of the sophomore year for their academic and personal development. Ninety-four percent of students said that the keynote address and/or after-dinner discussions helped them begin and/or continue exploring questions of vocation and life purpose. When asked to identify their main goals for the sophomore year, students indicated particular interest in pursuing internships and study abroad opportunities; forging deeper mentoring relationships with faculty and staff; deciding on majors, second majors, and minors; improving academic success; figuring out who they want to be; and getting more involved in clubs/activities both on campus and in the community.

Check out what students had to say about the event:

Great conversation about life and taking in every single moment.

Thee speaker made me realize that even though the end goal is important, the journey there is a learning experience that I should embrace.

Wonderful dinner with excellent company. 

Great experience, thank you!

For more information about the Opening Dinner, please contact Professor Brian Newsome.


Sophomore Class Opening Dinner

Sophomore Class Opening Dinner

Sophomore Class Opening Dinner

Sophomore Class Opening Dinner

Sophomore Class Opening Dinner

Are you thinking of adding a minor, a second major, or perhaps switching majors? Come check out all of your opportunities, as well as programming available through Study Abroad, BCA, Career Services, Community and Civic Engagement, Prestigious Scholarships, the Purposeful Life Work Program, and the Honors Program.

For more information, please contact Professor Brian Newsome.

majors and minors fair

 The SYE features an annual Sophomore Retreat where participants learn more about themselves, their talents and strengths; what truly matters to them and why it matters; and their own unique sense of purpose. The retreat was held at Cameron Estate, a beautiful location just fifteen minutes from campus.

After attending the Retreat during her sophomore year, Irene Snyder was inspired to make a difference in the lives of others. A member of the Class of 2017, Irene majored in Mass Communications, minored in Sociology, and served as programming director of ECTV-40. Irene partnered with the Carter Bowman Foundation to create a toy drive that provided games for child and teen cancer patients. Instead of just toys in general, the drive included board games, “to go” games, and card games that children can play with nurses, visitors, friends, and family. The toy drive was a huge success and was able to bring a little bit of fun to those going through a rough time!

For more information, please contact the Chaplain's Office.


group game

Selection criteria for Emergent Scholars are as follows: Emergent Scholars have attained at least a 3.75 cumulative grade point average at the end of their first three semesters. Qualified students are full-time students who have not previously attended another college or university for full-time study and have earned at least forty-two credits in three consecutive semesters as a student at Elizabethtown College or one of its affiliated programs.

The Dean for Curriculum and Honors hosts an annual springtime luncheon to recognize Emergent Scholars and their invited mentors. 

emergent scholars group

The Sophomore Year Experience closes with a Dessert Reception. You'll get to come together as a group once more, this time to celebrate the accomplishments of the sophomore year and to look ahead to the junior and senior years.

At the end of the evening, each attendee has an opportunity to write words of advice to the college’s rising sophomores. In April 2015, students “signed” their notes with handprints. These creations were displayed on the walls at the Sept. 2015 Sophomore Year Opening Dinner. Since 2016, students have penned their words of wisdom on dozens of sticky notes that are subsequently fashioned into tabletop centerpieces for the Opening Dinner the following fall semester.

For more information, please contact Prof. Brian Newsome.

Sophomore Class Desert Reception

Signing with handprints

Mentoring Programs:

Blue Jay Vics are seniors who are available to mentor sophomores. Keeping with the Blue Jay theme, when birds fly in a V formation they take turns leading the flock as the lead bird. The British Royal Air Force flies in the same V formation and the lead plane, or lead bird, or in our case lead Blue Jays are called "Vics".

Blue Jay Vics mentor sophomores as they discern a major, a minor, or a concentration in a major, and in selecting from among the five Signature Learning Experiences required for graduation.  If you're interested in studying abroad, for example, then you will be paired with a student who has studied abroad so you can learn more about it from a student perspective.

Reflections from recent mentees:

This added a great sense of belonging, and I appreciated the one on one mentoring with an older student to learn more about the college.

It helped me grow as an individual, which has helped me have a better overall experience at E-town.  I have learned to utilize the college’s resources more effectively, like Career Services, through my mentor’s help and guidance.

I really like that I got to know an upperclassman and their overall experience at E-Town.  I received helpful advice on how to improve myself for the next two years here.



Blue Jay Vics

Purposeful Life Work mentors will encourage students to understand the importance of reflection on vocation and purposeful life work for intentional decision-making during their Elizabethtown career and beyond.

For more information, please visit Purposeful Life Work webpage.