Belmont’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), the Sophomore Year Experience, kicked into high gear over the past few days as rising sophomores moved into Kennedy Hall on Thursday and the Sophomore Transition Center officially opened its doors. The Sophomore Year Experience, known to students as Growth & Purpose for Sophomores (GPS), is intended to encourage sophomores to engage in focused exploration of themselves and their places in the world. Assessment will be an important element of the program, evaluating the impact on growth and development as well as overall retention.
Located on the second floor of Belmont’s Bunch Library, the Sophomore Transition Center will be the centerpiece of the GPS program, which also includes a Sophomore Summit held during Welcome Week, a sophomore service project, a lecture series and changes to on-campus living and the core curriculum. Curriculum changes include tailoring COM 1100, Fundamentals of Speech Communication, to address the needs of sophomores, and revising linked cohort courses to include engaged learning experiences.
Newly appointed Director of the Sophomore Year Experience David Sneed said, “The GPS is designed to aid sophomores in focusing on questions of who they are and what they want to be, empowering them to surge forward personally and professionally in a much stronger way than they might have without the program. We are developing and implementing programming that will integrate with all aspects of a sophomore’s Belmont experience, including academic courses, student life and residential living.”
In addition to Sneed, Nanci Alsup and another part-time coach will work out of the Sophomore Transition Center providing second-year students with advice and direction (Alsup will also continue her work in the Teaching Center). Programming began last week as sophomores were allowed to move in early and assisted with freshman move in, beginning mentoring relationships with the Class of 2015. A Welcome Back Dinner last night opened the inaugural Sophomore Summit which continued Monday with a variety of speakers from the faculty and community.
Dr. Jimmy Davis, associate provost and dean of the University College, served as chair of the QEP committee. He said, “In many ways our sophomore initiative is an extension of the creation of the BELL Core seven years ago. The BELL Core put in place specific experiences for first-year and third-year students, but was much less specific about how it addressed the needs of second year students. So, with the other parts of the BELL Core firmly in place, we have an opportunity to lean on them to create something unique for our sophomores.”
The QEP is part of Belmont’s reaccreditation process. Every 10 years Belmont University must reaffirm its accreditation through the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS), and the QEP describes a project the University will undertake to improve student learning outcomes. Click here to read the QEP Sophomore Year Experience proposal in its entirety.