In a typical school year, college sophomores have developed one year of valuable campus insight. By now, they already know their way around the campus, have attended multiple school-wide events, met some of their favorite teachers and their advisor during office hours, have spent ample time with classmates outside of school, and have developed some unforgettable memories.
But, this year’s sophomores have had to deal with the most extraordinary transitions. Most of their long-awaited senior year of high school was spent online away from friends and graduation was a virtual experience or social distance ceremony. Then, in the fall, they had to choose between a gap year or went into their first year of college made up of Zoom sessions and digital meetups.
Now, finally, sophomore year of college. Unlike their predecessors, many sophomore students will be experiencing college life on campus for the very first time. It’ll be a priority for Student Life teams to come up with a game plan to engage these unique incoming students and make it a worthwhile experience for their official first-year attending classes and events on campus.
As you and your Student Life team plan a dynamic on-campus strategy to engage your sophomores, here are 5 tips to consider to drive a successful student experience for sophomore students post-pandemic.
1. Plan and promote in-person events in a central hub
Academics are important, no doubt. But, the social component is just as essential to the college experience. As the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote recently, “Sophomores don’t want to be treated like freshmen. But they are eager to make up for lost time socially.” This class experienced an unprecedented transition from the end of high school to now, the beginning of their sophomore year. They’re ready to meet other classmates and make up for their lack of college social life. I’m sure you and your team have a semester of incredible events planned, but don’t forget to distribute promotions in ways they’re already comfortable with.
Take advantage of your campus calendar to get the word out. If it’s integrated in your campus portal make sure notifications are on, it’s filterable and easy for them to search to find activities that best relate to their interests. Housing everything in one place will help organize a comprehensive list of opportunities for them to connect with their classmates. Get ready for event attendance to skyrocket.
2. Keep students and safety a top priority
We recognize that safety concerns are still of utmost importance, and everyone’s comfort levels vary. While many sophomores will want to interact on campus, there might be others who want to be involved but are still hesitant to join in person. With that in mind, have safety protocols that fit you and your student’s needs, as well as consider hybrid activities.
You can easily stream that open mic online or enable students to participate in trivia night on campus or through virtual engagement. Survey your students through polls, see what works for everyone and help improve that sense of camaraderie and campus belonging.
3. Everyone could always use a little help around campus
You have all these fun activities planned, but it’s important not to forget the essentials. Help students find their way around campus with virtual maps that they can refer to, to help identify where events are located. Keeping it accessible by mobile will enable them to tap into it whenever they need assistance finding their way.
4. Recruit upperclassmen to apply their insight for resource guides
The juniors and seniors at your university probably have the best recommendation of spots to check out in and around campus. Why not compile their years of knowledge into helpful resource guides of the best restaurants, cafes, or hangout spots? They’ve once been the new kid on campus, and have a lot of information to bestow. Turn their recommendations into guides accessible on your student portal, this will give sophomores a helpful starting point to navigating their way.
5. Make it easier for students to connect off-campus or post-event
Rather than remembering to swap snaps, Instagram handles or phone numbers, with a university campus portal, enable students to search for their news friends by name, class year, and more. Within your portal, students can build their profile with all/any of their social media handles, they have the ability to DM one another, and communicate and connect as they like.