Sophomore Socials engage students and professors

Sophomore Socials are a new, open-house-style events at Gustavus this year which seeks to bridge the gap between the residential and academic experiences for sophomore students, held from 3 to 5 p.m. every Friday in September and every other Friday in October in the Johns Family Courtyard (Courtyard Café if it rains).

Sophomore Socials give students a chance to interact with professors in a casual, relaxed setting. Students can get advice on majors, internships and careers as well as general academic advice. In fact, you can talk to professors no matter what your major.

Many students attending these events have been vocationally focused. “Students have asked me about the job market, careers and internships,” Professor of Communication Studies Phil Voight, who was in attendance at last Friday’s Sophomore Social said.

Job-focused or major-focused, students can get their questions answered by professors at Sophomore Socials.

“This was definitely needed and very beneficial,” Sophomore Madi Bongard said.

“I feel like I’m one of the few out of my friends who haven’t declared. I’m still looking into majors. You can just show up to these and find out about different majors and careers for that major. This is an invaluable resource.”

Even if students have declared a major, however, they are welcome and encouraged to come to these events.

“It’s an informal setting, not a whole panel of teachers in front of you. You are welcome to come and go,” Bongard said. “There are a variety of teachers and even if you have a set major, you can talk about anything, including information about a minor. You would never get this opportunity at most places.”

According to, “by the time you reach sophomore year, the thrill of being away at college and the newness of the experience have faded, leaving in their place a sense of growing urgency about deciding on a major, choosing a career path, and finding a group of friends or a romantic interest.” Many know this as “sophomore slump.”

For this reason, Residential Life created a position to bridge academics and the residential experience. Director of Health Service Heather Dale is the Faculty/Administrator in Residence for the Sophomore Year Experience. Dale brainstormed the Sophomore Socials idea and made it happen.

“I’m the person in charge of Sophomore Socials. I do everything from coordinating the faculty that attend and advertising to making sure the table has food on it,” Dale said.

Kevin Bruins, Area Coordinator for Complex and Rundstrom Halls, is the person from Residential Life most connected to the program.

According to Dale, this event has received really positive feedback and has had a good representation of both female and male students.

“Some older students have come up to me and asked, ‘Why didn’t we have this when we were sophomores?’” Dale said.

“I’m probably going to go back once or twice more. If you know your professor, it’s just fun to sit and talk to them for a while,” Bongard said. “Plus, they could even become your advise. This is just a great resource.”

Sophomore Socials will continue throughout the fall into the end of October.

This is what students can anticipate for Sophomore Socials  in the upcoming weeks. although the schedule is subject to change:

Friday, Sept. 21:  Biology, CSL (Community-Based Service and Learning, Vocation and Integrative Learning and Career Development)

Friday, Sept. 28:  French, German, African Studies, Philosophy and Communication Studies

Friday, Oct. 12:  Spanish, Psychology, Econ Management, Geography, Sociology/Anthropology and Library staff

Friday, Oct. 26:  Scandinavian Studies, Geology, Religion, Gender, Women, and Sexuality, Latin America, Latino and Caribbean studies, and Academic Advising.

If there are particular departments that you as a student are interested in conversing with that are not on the list, please email Heather Dale directly at with suggestions for Sophomore Socials.