Sophomore men: Their growth, relationships and search for life direction at Colgate University

Rajesh N Bellani, University of Pennsylvania


A recent phenomenon and focus in higher education has been the development of specific sophomore, or second-year experience programs; however, there is little understanding of how second-year students grow and negotiate the challenges of college life. In order to serve students better, there needs to be a deeper understanding of how different sub-populations, in this case male students, experience their sophomore year. This research was conducted at Colgate University, a liberal arts college in the northeast with 2,800 traditional-aged students, because the institution has received considerable attention for its holistic approach and focus on the sophomore year. The purpose of this study was to understand how male students experienced, explored, and engaged in their second year at Colgate University. Using qualitative, constructivist inquiry methods, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 Colgate students at three data points in their sophomore year (the 2006--2007 academic year). Through the course of this study, students described how they had matured and changed from their first year and how their second year was time of transition in relationships with friends, women, and parents. The students were focused on immediate and short-term concerns. When it came to their choice of major, the men had an idea of the directions they wanted to take, but they wanted to take their time in making a decision in order to ensure the most appropriate choice. When discussing lifelong goals and direction, they were able to articulate abstract goals; however, they were reluctant to take action because they had no understanding of the process for actualizing their goals. A few men fell into a stage of confusion and outright avoidance in dealing with their futures, what might be traditionally known as the "sophomore slump." Finally, the interviews revealed that the men understood that the basic intent of Colgate's Sophomore-Year Experience was to offer an opportunity for students to reflect and learn more about themselves. In addition, this study concludes with a set of recommendations for implementing a sophomore-year experience program.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Bellani, Rajesh N, "Sophomore men: Their growth, relationships and search for life direction at Colgate University" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3255859.