Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

C-Scape: One Business School's Answer to the Sophomore Slump

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

C-Scape: One Business School's Answer to the Sophomore Slump

Article excerpt


C-scape is one university's unique sophomore year integrated learning experience, designed to help students to plan their careers. It takes students through a comprehensive process of discovering and integrating their personal and professional landscapes, using their personal compass to define their direction, and personally mapping the steps to get there. This program is unique because it builds on Fink's seminal framework on integrated design of significant learning experiences. The aim of C-scape is to actively engage sophomores in the process of taking responsibility for their own learning and their future personal and professional success.


For more than 50 years, those in higher education have recognized the 'sophomore slump' and yet, there is very little research on what and how to effectively overcome it (Lipka, 2006; Tobolosky & Serven, 2007; Toosi, 2004). After a first year filled with novelty and excitement, sophomores often struggle to find their passions and set their goals (Gardner, Pattengale, & Schreiner, 2000; Lemons & Richmond, 1987) which leaves them with a sense of inertia and disorganization (Freedman, 1956). They realize there are discrepancies between their expectations and the realities of college which leads to feelings of uncertainty about their futures (Evenbeck et al. 2000; Gardner, 2000). Consequently, sophomores may become disengaged and may even drop out (Lipka, 2006; Schaller, 2005). Moreover, without the aid of an intentional process to work through this confusion, sophomores are left to choose majors or careers they know little about (Lipka, 2006; Toosi, 2004).

Although the disconnect sophomores experience is well documented (Freedman, 1956), academicians face new challenges when dealing with millennial students (those born between 1980 and 2000) as they try to facilitate connections between students' interests, strengths, and goals to chosen majors and potential career opportunities. Millennial students typically come to college having been shepherded and given much individual attention. They feel very close to their parents (Oblinger, 2003; Sujansky, 2009) who protected them (Debard, 2004, as cited in Reeves & Oh, 2007), guided them and made decisions for them (Sujansky, 2009). Consequently, they need a roadmap to success and expect constant nurturing and feedback (Meister & Willyerd, 2010; Sujansky, 2009). Moreover, colleges have recently put a tremendous focus on freshmen programs while putting relative little effort into sophomore programs. Coupled with the unique characteristics of millennials, the sophomore slump becomes more pronounced as students move from being the institution's focus the first year to feeling almost neglected in the second.

In addition, this generation of students has not been taught or does not have experience with self-reflection (Prensky, 2001b), rather, they want instant answers (Oblinger, 2003; Skiba & Barton, 2006). Schaller (2005) found that to fully develop, students need to progress from random to focused exploration through active reflection, which should help them to take initiative and responsibility for their decisions, plans, and actions. Given that millennial sophomores have little experience with the longer, more in-depth reflection needed to turn the sophomore 'slump' into a sophomore 'jump', it is apparent that an integrated and comprehensive experience during the sophomore year is required. Schaller's (2005) qualitative study of college sophomores' experiences lends support for the need for an integrated experience that effectively and comprehensively connects the dots for students in such a way that they learn to think and act intentionally and independently about their careers now and in the future. Recognizing that college students should be pushed to plot their own courses (Schreiner, 2000), and that selfauthorship through personal reflection is central to adult decision making (Baxter Magolda, 2001), transforming millennials to independent thinkers is perhaps more challenging than in the past. …

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