Skip to main content

Sophomore College helps undergrads bring their academic career into focus

Nearly 200 students participated in the program, which offers small, intensive, three-week classes before the beginning of the academic year.

From the waters of Monterey, California, to the mines of Montana, to the backstage of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, students enrolled in last month’s Sophomore College – more often called SoCo – enjoyed a range of unique classes both on campus and at sites well beyond.

In The Face of Battle, students journeyed to both Washington, D.C., and Montana to explore the fields of Gettysburg and Little Bighorn and consider what it was like to be there. Another class, Mining and the Green Economy traveled to Montana to study the issues, problems, and possibilities associated with sustainably obtaining the metals needed for the green revolution.

There were plenty of on-campus courses too, exploring artificial intelligence, the United States health care system, the intersection of art and science, and more.

Dayo Mitchell, senior associate director of Stanford introductory studies within the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE), has overseen Sophomore College since 2017.

“SoCo is a different way of learning – you are living with your classmates and making new friends, and your faculty are free to teach you about a topic they love without being constrained by the limits of ‘twice a week for 80 minutes,’ ” Mitchell said. “Focus is a rare commodity for our curious, engaged, overscheduled students.”

Because the courses are limited to no more than 15 students, participants get to know their course instructor well and also benefit from the mentorship of Sophomore College assistants – often past participants in the program, who can share the paths they navigated at Stanford.

Below, four of this year’s participants reflect on their SoCo experiences.

For more details about all of the 2023 SoCo course offerings – a number of which will be offered next September – visit the Sophomore College website.

Izabella Smolnicka-Dos Santos

Read more

Spencer Cha

Read more

Ashley Vincent

Read more

Ivy Chen

Read more