Sophomores Get Fresh Focus With 'Reorientation'

This fall, some UNC sophomores took the chance to start all over again — sort of.

In late September, student government offered its first “sophomore reorientation,” in which second-year students attended workshops geared to help them re-evaluate their academic and professional futures.

Unlike other UNC orientation sessions — such as CTOPS, for first-year students, or TSOP, for transfer students — the sophomore reorientation was meant to help second-year students sift through the sometimes-daunting options for their academic careers. Students, program organizers say, receive so much information in their first year that it’s sometimes lost by the time they really need it as sophomores.

“One of the challenges of a campus as big and diverse as UNC is that there’s so much out there, and it can be overwhelming for students to try to navigate it by themselves,” said Student Body President Eve Carson, who included the reorientation program in her campaign platform last spring. “[Sophomore year] is when people are really starting to narrow down their academic interest and their leadership positions. It’s at that point when people start to focus more on a path.”

Twelve University offices and programs — including the Office of Undergraduate Research, Academic Advising and the Study Abroad Office — offered 25-minute workshops and panel discussions tailored to the needs of sophomores. For example, a University Career Services workshop focused on internships offered the summer after the students’ second year.

“We’ve sort of asked them to explain what steps students need to be taking now, as sophomores, to get involved,” said program organizer Justin Singer, who also is co-chair of the Student Life Committee. “During freshman year, there’s a lot of leeway, but sophomore year is kind of the beginning of ‘it’s time to crack down.’ ”

Sophomore Shaddi Hasan attended the reorientation workshops offered by the Study Abroad Office and the Office of Undergraduate Research. He said this reorientation program was more helpful to him than freshman orientation, where he said he wasn’t sure of what he wanted to focus on academically.

“You know more of what you’re doing when you’re a sophomore,” he said. “The options aren’t as overwhelming here. You can just go to the workshops that affect you.”

The success of the reorientation program could have student government leaders taking a second look at other orientation — and reorientation — programs.

“I think we can use this time to re-evaluate what the purpose is of freshman orientation,” Carson said. “It’s a reminder that students have really different choices every year. By senior year, a lot of students feel that idea is that we’re supposed to be able to do things on our own, and a lot of seniors could use a reorientation to the things we need to be working on from the very beginning of senior year. But this is a start.”

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