Students work to eliminate sophomore slump

Sonoma State University is unique from other California State Universities in that it has a massive sophomore slump rate. 

The sophomore slump is a term used to describe the concept of students dropping out of their college, during or after their sophomore year. 

“For the SSU student who began their first year at SSU in 2009, 80 percent came back for their sophomore year, while 68 percent came back for their junior year and 65 percent came back for their senior year,” said Heather Smith, professor and Organizational Justice Research Team coordinator. “Sixty-two percent continued at SSU for their senior year- consisting of the 28 percent that graduated and the other 34 percent continued on to the next year.” 

As Smith explained, 20 percent of the SSU students leave the school before they reach their sophomore year. 

Sonoma State students and faculty have come together to find out why the sophomore slump is specifically common at SSU and aspire to make a change. 

Under the instruction of Smith, these students are collectively a part of Sonoma State’s Organizational Justice Research Team. 

Since January the team has worked on the survey, which will help eliminate the sophomore slump issue at SSU. 

After 10 months of hard work the team has officially created the survey called “Track the Pack” which is currently ready to be taken.

The survey has a variety of questions that are asked to gain information on why students are choosing to leave Sonoma State. 

The goal of Track the Pack is to gain information regarding the overall campus climate and to therefore find out where reinforcements are needed for students. 

The survey is offered strictly to sophomores and juniors who started SSU as a freshman. This will gain more accurate results of why the sophomore slump is occurring.

“Track the Pack isn’t just a small-scale survey project we’re doing to turn in for a grade. It has the potential to directly impact the student experience at Sonoma State,” said Nicole Bravo, student and organizational justice research team member. “We have many stakeholders who have given us ideas and direction in our development of the survey, and they are all very interested in the data we receive. The feedback that students give will be available to campus figures who have the ability to make changes and implement programs on campus, everyone’s opinion matters.”

The survey has been active for about two weeks. Sophomores and juniors who started as freshman at SSU received an email on their Seawolf account with an attached link to the survey. 

Around 3,000 students were asked to take the survey and around 220 surveys have been completed. 

Track the Pack survey takes around 30 minutes to complete, however once the survey has begun one can start and stop the survey whenever they please. 

The format of the questions consists of a rating scale and free answer questions.

“From a student perspective, one big advantage of the survey is that it captures a lot of information about how students both view and use the campus. For example, do students feel safe and respected when on campus and in the classroom?” James Davis, student and Organizational Justice Research team member said. “How might these views impact students level of participation in various SSU academic and social activities? The answers to these questions directly benefit SSU students, and they are the answers the survey is designed to discover.”

Track the Pack is offered until January 2015, the Organizational Research team members hope to receive completed surveys as soon as possible bringing Sonoma State one-step closer to eliminating the sophomore slump.

“The Track the Pack survey provided me with the opportunity to really reflect on my experiences during my time at SSU. I hope that it will raise awareness of the issues that our students face every day,” said student Liliana Morales. “I believe it will be a great tool in perceiving how our students really feel at SSU and what can be done to make it a better experience for all.” 

Sophomore and junior students are encouraged to take the Track the Pack student survey via their Seawolf emails.