Academic Goals for Sophomores

Rising sophomores register for fall term during May of their first year. During the summer, however, many sophomores change their minds about their academic program, and they may be starting from scratch when they meet with their advisor during Advising Days.

Graduation Requirements

By their sixth term, it is expected that sophomores will have satisfied most of their graduation requirements (i.e., curricular exploration, global citizenship, writing, quantitative reasoning, and physical education requirements). It is especially important for students to complete their Foreign Language Requirement and the Writing Portfolio Requirement. Past this point, any remaining course requirements will need to be satisfied along with work on a major.

Related links: Graduation Requirements

Difficulty Choosing a Major

Some sophomores find it very difficult to choose a major. They may have so many interests in so many different subjects that they can’t bear to choose only one, or they may be dissatisfied with all of the subjects they have studied so far and feel discouraged at the prospect of choosing a major in any of them. In either case there is no easy answer.

Those who are having trouble narrowing down their choice of major might be reminded that one doesn’t need to major in a subject to study it at Carleton; choosing a major need not commit a student to only one path. Among the potential majors, which would the student benefit the most from by taking all the courses required for the major? In which major would the student prefer to do a comprehensive exercise? Does the student have definite career plans? Which major would leave the most doors open when it comes time to pursue a career or further education?

Those who are dissatisfied with all the subjects they have studied so far might at least consider majoring in other subjects. Is there some subject that the student would be excited to major in, which he or she has removed from consideration for some reason? Ideally a student can find a major that excites him or her even when it is most difficult.

Related links:“Choosing a Major” worksheet

Sophomores Registering for Winter Term (in the Fall)

In September (and in November, when students register for winter term), some of the questions and issues you may want to consider are as follows:

  • Progress toward choosing a major
  • Fulfilling graduation requirements (writing, quantitative reasoning, global understanding, physical education, and curricular exploration and intellectual engagement)
  • Would off-campus study strengthen the fulfillment of academic goals?
  • Should a Minor be considered? Minors build on and complement departmental offerings by applying the methods and content of specific disciplines to broader issues and problems which cut across the disciplines. Students who seem confined by the disciplinary orientation of Carleton, who are interested in a specific area, or who show an interest in contemporary social issues are among those who may want to consider a Minor. Students interested in Environmental and Technology Studies (ENTS) must enroll in the introductory course in their first or second year.

By October, students who don’t know what they are going to major in are encouraged to narrow it down to 2-3 areas of interest and come up with a plan for further exploration in those areas. They should try to do this before registering for winter term courses.

Students are asked to declare a major around the second week of spring term. While students can delay, they should have this decision made before registration for fall term of their junior year. That gives them a maximum of six courses to explore. Students who are struggling in a discipline they want to major in might develop a back-up plan.

[Adapted from the ECC Subcommittee on First-Year Academic Experience, April 1999.]

Sophomores Registering for Spring Term (in the Winter)

  • By mid-to-late February, students should try to be in good shape regarding their choice of a major.
  • Students keep their adviser until some time after drop and add of spring term.
  • They should attend to the writing portfolio requirement.

Sophomores Registering for Fall Term (in the Spring)

Before sophomores meet with their advisors for registration, they should complete their writing portfolio.