The Sophomore Year

  1. advising-keckThe Sophomore year can be a particularly awkward time for many students. No longer frenzied newbies, and confronted with the prospect of buckling down academically, sophomores often experience sustained feelings of let-down or frustration. You may find yourself struggling with a sense of stagnation in your school work and social lives in this period of developmental confusion. Your academic adviser is familiar with this tough period, and has probably gone through it as well many years ago. Talk with your academic adviser for advice on how to manage everything.
  2. Invite your academic adviser and your professors to lunch at McConnell. The main point of a small liberal arts college is to have close contact with your professors. They will be writing your letters of recommendation in the future. Professors schedule office hours for the sole purpose of meeting with students. There are only upsides to getting to know your professors, especially if later in the semester you run into some snags.
  3. Stay on top of the academic calendar. In September (February), remember the deadline to add classes and finalize your schedules. In October (March), follow up on any low grade notices and observe the deadline to drop classes. In November (April) you need to pre-register for the next semester. And in December (May), be aware of the last day to withdraw from classes and your final exam schedule. Frequently monitor your Pitzer email and promptly respond to any official communications.
  4. You should plan to declare a major by the end of your sophomore year. Talk with your academic adviser about possible majors. Familiarize yourself with our various (40+) majors and their requirements. Also explore our 22 minors. Your adviser can put you in touch with faculty in your fields of interest. If you have a major adviser in mind, your academic adviser can send an introductory email to the faculty member for you. Career Services can also help you with this process by helping you to better understand your own interests and skills.
  5. Most sophomores need to make study abroad preparations for their junior year. In September you should talk to your academic adviser about your study abroad ideas. You must go to a Study Abroad information session and submit a study abroad application during the Fall semester if you want to study abroad during the Fall of their Junior year. You must go to a Study Abroad information session and submit a study abroad application during the Spring semester if you want to study abroad the following Spring.
    • Since the application for study abroad typically happens before most students have declared their major, getting academic credit toward your major while on study abroad is tricky. You will get four Pitzer credits from any Pitzer approved study abroad program, but those courses may or may not satisfy the requirements for a specific major. You must have your study abroad courses approved for the major by the faculty in your major. While you are required to declare your major before you go on study abroad, most students declare their major after their study abroad plans have been made. So you really need to meet with faculty in your intended major as you make your study abroad plans.
  1. Try to complete all your general education requirements before the end of your sophomore year. This includes two humanities courses, two social science courses, one math class and one science class. You can focus on your major requirements and other areas of interest during your last two years in college. Too many spring semester seniors are trying to complete one last general education requirement.
  2. Talk with your adviser about your summer plans. Summer jobs, summer internships, summer research projects, summer fellowships. Get yourself to the Career Services Office during the Fall. You should try to obtain an summer job/internship to explore possible career fields and develop career-related skills. You should be updating your resume, exploring and applying early for summer jobs and internships. See Sandy Hamilton about various summer fellowships.
  3. Get involved on campus and in the community. Clubs. PAct. Student Senate. Varsity sports. This will help you develop your leadership skills, and look good on your resume. You should also visit the Community Engagement Center (CEC). The CEC supports Pitzer faculty, students, staff and community partners in forwarding social responsibility and community engagement in surrounding communities through research, service, advocacy, and action.
  4. Students intending to go to medical school, law school or business school should major in the field of their choice based on their intellectual interest. There is no required or preferred major for medical school, law school or business school admission. However, all candidates for admission to medical school must satisfy a set of core science requirements.
  5. You should apply for some fellowships which target sophomores. You might think about the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, Boren Scholarship, Benjamin Gilman Scholarship, Congress-Budestag Youth Exchange, Critical Language Scholarship Program, Fulbright Commission: Summer Institutes, Mellon Mays, Humanity in Action, and/or the Morris Udall and Stewart Udall Scholarship. Sandy Hamilton can help you track down the most appropriate fellowships.
  6. You should know about the academic support resources available on campus. If you are having academic difficulties, try to understand the nature of those difficulties. You should talk with your professor, go to their office hours, go to tutoring sessions, arrange study groups, share class notes with other students, and talk with academic support personnel in the Office of Student Affairs. We run various workshops on time management, relaxation techniques, note taking skills, etc.
  7. You should start planning now for your life after Pitzer. You should polish your resume, network, do research through Career Services, use your summers wisely, craft your online persona, and understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Talk with your adviser and your professors about life after Pitzer. Pick their brains about the world of possibilities out there.