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Sophomore Experience: An Interview with Rebecca McQueen


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Panogram: What is the Sophomore Experience?

Rebecca McQueen: The Sophomore Experience is a program designed to help second year students to continue their education past their sophomore at Wesleyan. The sophomore year is an important one. The main reason students quit their college education is they stop seeing the benefit of school. Students don’t see the long-term payoff for their commitment. They have finished one year and have worked hard, but graduation seems so far away that they want to give up. They have anxiety over career options once they graduate. They feel burnout from taking general education classes outside of their chosen field of study. It is just a difficult year, but if we can retain students into their junior year, they are more likely to graduate.

 

Panogram: How many years has Sophomore Experience been going on?

Rebecca McQueen: The Sophomore Experience is in its second year.  It started in August 2014.

 

Panogram: How did it get started?

Rebecca McQueen: Dr. Dehn identified that Wesleyan had declining sophomore to junior retention – about half of KWC sophomores were leaving before their junior year.  She and Mary Crawford from Development applied for a grant from the James Graham Brown foundation to develop a Sophomore Experience program aimed at increasing that retention.  The College was awarded $450K to be used over three years.  That money is used to fund everything to do with the program.

 

Panogram: Where do the ideas come from?

Rebecca McQueen: I did a lot of research last summer about the sophomore year and what causes students to want to leave college, etc.  One of the main concerns for sophomores is committing to the college experience and understanding how it connects to their future and goals. To that end, a lot of what I do is focused on helping sophomores understanding who they are, who they want to be, and how they can get there with an education from Wesleyan.  I also offer some social events so that they can build relationships that will last them through their Wesleyan career.

 

Panogram: How did you get involved in coordinating the events?

Rebecca McQueen: I was hired to be the Director of the Sophomore Experience in May 2014.

 

P: What kind of events do you organize for sophomores?

I enjoy being able to go the Mystery Bus tours.  Last year we went zip lining at the Megacavern, a Predators game, Titans game, Ice! Exhibit at Opry Mills, canoeing, and to Skyzone in Evansville.  They are a lot of fun and I like the opportunity to connect and talk to the students.  I also like the ability to let students experience stuff they might not normally do – like learning how to sail with Dr. Ayers.

 

P: The trips are very affordable, even on college student budget. How does Wesleyan make the events so affordable?

RM: The grant provides the program with a pretty healthy budget, so I try to offer affordable things for students to do.

 

P: What events do you have planned so far for the year?

RM: The calendar of events for this semester can be found at https://www.kwc.edu/page.php?page=1605.  I will say that the first Mystery Bus tour on September 18 is repeated from last year because it was such a popular event.  The other mystery bus tours are still being planned, so if students have additional ideas they should let me know.Rebecca Mcqueen

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Sophomore Experience: An Interview with Rebecca McQueen