Sophomore Year: Choices and Decisions

As a sophomore you will assess where you've been, where you're going, the range of choices you have, and prepare yourself for decisions about your concentration, studying off campus and your career.


Key Dates for Sophomores

Thurs., Aug. 27: Fall semester begins

Fri., Sept. 4: Last day to add a course

Wed., Oct. 21: Last day to drop a course

Early Nov.: Meet to discuss registration for spring 2016

Tues., Jan. 19: Spring semester begins

Wed., Jan. 27:  Last day to add a course

Feb. 8-12: Sophomores declare concentration; mandatory meeting with pre-concentration advisor

Early March: Apply for summer research grant or internship funding

Fri., March 11: Last day to drop a course

Early April: Meet to discuss registration for fall 2016

Sun., May 1: Financial aid deadline

Mon., May 9: Classes end

May 11-15: Final exams


Review guidelines for getting started in a particular discipline

Even though you have two semesters of college work behind you, it is still important to explore new areas of study. Sometimes students fall in love with a discipline they discover in their sophomore year. Refer to the quick guide for advice on entry-level courses within a field of study.

Review your educational plan

You should meet with your academic advisor early in the sophomore year to figure out how best to explore new areas and to pursue your continuing interests. You may also find it helpful to meet with one of Hamilton's preprofessional advisors for assistance with long-term planning.

Learn more about studying off campus

More than half of all Hamilton students explore different cultures and take on new intellectual challenges by studying for a semester or a year away from campus. Hamilton sponsors or is affiliated with study abroad programs in China, France, Spain and India.

Students may also select from more than 100 programs throughout the world. Hamilton's programs in the AdirondacksNew York City, Washington, D.C., and at the New England Center for Children in Boston provide students with opportunities to combine rigorous academic preparation with practical experience.  

Talk with your academic advisor and with the off-campus study advisor to be sure that your plans to study away are integrated with your educational goals. You will also want to confirm that you have met the requirements necessary to study off campus and that you declare your leave of absence at the appropriate time.

Declare your concentration

Choosing a major is one of your main responsibilities as a sophomore. Reflect on your past coursework. Talk with your academic advisor about the classes you have taken and what you wish to continue studying throughout your college career. Fall semester is a good time to talk with professors in the disciplines that interest you to learn more about their concentration requirements.

Students normally declare a concentration in the spring of their sophomore year (i.e., fourth semester). By the end of the sophomore year you must have completed at least two courses in the department or program of your concentration, and must have received a cumulative average of 1.7 or higher for all work taken in that department or program. The concentration will be listed on your official transcript. A student may change from one concentration to another.

When students declare a concentration they will be asked the following questions:

  1. What led you to choose your concentration? (such as: particular course(s), career aspirations, personal experiences)
  2. (a) Explain how your education thus far has helped you address the College’s purposes and goals
    (b) Which of the purposes and goals have you yet to address, and what do you plan to do to address them?
  3. Other than completing your concentration, what are your educational plans for your final two years at Hamilton? For instance:
    • Are you planning on studying off-campus? If so, where and why?
    • Are you interested in exploring the connections between your academic coursework and real-life applications? (e.g., internship, leadership and volunteer activities, etc.) If so, what connections do you want to explore?
    • How does your academic plan help you achieve your career goals?
    • What departments or programs offer courses you have not taken but that you want to explore?
Begin work with your concentration advisor

After declaring your concentration, a concentration advisor will be assigned, or depending on the area of study you may have the option to choose an advisor. You will begin working together to plan the first semester of your junior year. This is also a good time to review the requirements for your major. If you plan to study abroad in your junior year it is particularly important to touch base with your concentration advisor at this time to ensure that you are on track for your senior project.

Consult with a preprofessional advisor

If you aspire to continue in a professional program after graduating from Hamilton (e.g., business, law, engineering, health), you will want to meet early with a preprofessional advisor to ensure that you are meeting requirements with your coursework. A preprofessional advisor, working in conjunction with your academic advisor, can help you coordinate the courses needed for your concentration with those needed for your professional program.

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Engage in the community and become a leader

Each year, Hamilton’s campus hosts approximately 1,000 concerts, lectures, sporting contests, comedians, blood drives, poetry readings, workshops, debates, worship services, films, gallery openings, coffeehouses, volunteer activities, etc. There are more than 200 community service, cultural, musical, athletic, political, social, recreational and religious groups on campus. These include 29 varsity teams, 12 club sports and a multitude of intramural and recreational offerings.

Sophomore year is a great time to become more involved in the life of the campus. Hamilton offers many formal and informal opportunities for students to learn to take initiative; make informed, responsible and ethical decisions; and successfully organize and collaborate with others on shared projects and goals.

Learn through experience

Hamilton’s academic departments and centers sponsor a growing number of community-based programs that provide opportunities for students to put into practice what they’ve learned in class.

Pursue research and career-related experiences

You have the opportunity to build a portfolio of career-related experiences, ranging from independent research and experiential learning to volunteer work, internships and fellowships. Each summer, Hamilton provides 140 stipends for students to conduct research and more than 70 stipends for students to pursue unpaid internships. Eight in 10 of our seniors report having a career-related experience prior to graduating.

  • Engage with the Career and Life Outcomes Center to begin your search for career-related experiences and learn how to market yourself
  • Visit HamNet to complete your career interest profile and to view upcoming programs and on-campus and off-campus jobs and internships

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