student success

Five factors behind the college “sophomore slump” and five ways to intervene

Jo HillmanApril 25, 2013
New research shows the challenges many students face in the second year of college.
New research shows the challenges many students face in the second year of college (Click to enlarge).

A new study of slumping motivation among last year’s sophomores has found that many respondents indeed did not feel energized by their courses and shows some of the reasons why—including relatively low satisfaction in areas such as students’ frequency of communication with advisors and the availability of work experiences associated with students’ career interests. The findings shed light on the mindsets behind the substantial dropout rate of second-year college students nationally, reported earlier this year by Noel-Levitz.

The study is based on student survey feedback from 3,800 second-year college students who were enrolled at 28 colleges and universities nationwide in 2012. As shown in the table above, approximately one-quarter of the respondents were unable to affirm that they “have many friends and feel at home [at college]” or that they “felt energized” by the ideas they were learning in most of their classes. In addition, only a slight majority of respondents across institution types, led by male students, indicated they had the financial resources they needed to finish college.

The study also found that many respondents were receptive to outreach in a variety of forms. For example, more than three-quarters wanted help with identifying work experiences related to their major, and half said they would like tutoring help and the opportunity to discuss options for financing their education. These findings underscore the importance of assessing second-year students’ needs and their receptivity to assistance in order to intervene effectively and connect them with relevant campus resources.

Receive a copy of the report and attend a free Webinar on Tuesday, June 18
The findings above are taken from the forthcoming 2013 Report: The Attitudes of Second-Year College Students. This report is based on data from the Second-Year Student Assessment™, an early-alert survey that is part of the Retention Management System Plus™ from Noel-Levitz.  To receive a copy of the report in May, visit and choose “New trend reports.”

You are also invited to join us for a free Webinar coming in June, Retaining Second-Year College Students With Targeted Interventions. In addition to hearing findings from the new report, you’ll hear two case studies of strategies in second-year student assessment and intervention by Robert Morris University (PA) and Missouri Western State University (MO).

If you have any questions about our second-year student research or about early-alert and intervention strategies, please contact us.

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