Sophomore Opportunities and Academic Resources (SOAR) Program

Sophomore year means taking a lot of important steps — continuing to make connections and build your campus communities, crafting an academic and cocurricular plan, declaring a major, and so much more. The Sophomore Opportunities and Academic Resources (SOAR) guides sophomores through this process and sets them up for success during the rest of their time at Oberlin.

President Ambar engages with students in a lecture hall.
President Ambar leads a session with Oberlin sophomores at the 2019 SOAR program.
Photo credit: Dale Preston

Through SOAR, sophomores have the opportunity to connect their interests inside and outside the classroom, build lasting connections with peers and mentors, and be introduced to resources and strategies that will support their ongoing personal and academic success. They learn about the kinds of opportunities they can pursue during the rest of their time at Oberlin, and work to develop their “Sophomore Toolkit,” which will allow them to successfully do just that.

During the 2021–22 academic year, the SOAR program has two primary components: a “re-orientation” in October and a two-day, remote-accessible retreat during Winter Term in February. You can read about both of the program components, which have been designed specifically to support sophomores whose first-year experience at Oberlin was impacted by COVID-19, in greater detail below.

View the October re-orientation program booklet

View the February retreat booklet

Registration & Deadlines

The registration deadline for the February SOAR retreat has passed. Please direct any questions to Nathan Carpenter, director of academic peer advising, at

The October re-orientation program features three tracks, all designed to complement your class schedule. Participants will receive cocurricular LEAD credit for completing the October re-orientation.

  1. Core Sessions: For the first four Sunday afternoons of the fall semester, beginning October 10, we will meet from 1–3 p.m. for a series of panels, workshops, and community-building activities. Through these sessions, you will explore the broad range of experiential learning opportunities at Oberlin, begin to build plans for upcoming semesters, and make lasting connections with your peers. Each session is required for all participating students and will be followed by social mixers organized in collaboration with the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement.
  2. Skill-Building Workshops: In addition to the core sessions, experiential learning offices from across campus will offer a series of skill-based workshops throughout October to ensure you are ready to dive into opportunities that were restricted during your first year on campus. Topics will include community-based learning and research, individual Winter Term projects, study away opportunities, and more. These workshops will also prepare you to dive into internships and/or undergraduate research opportunities. Students will be required to attend at least three of these workshops, which will be offered at a range of times throughout the month (you can pick the ones that work best for you once the full schedule is released).
  3. Community-Building & Social Events: In collaboration with the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement, SOAR participants will be provided with a robust calendar of social events beginning from the moment you return to campus and continuing through the month of October. These events are completely optional but strongly encouraged, and will allow students to continue building relationships developed during the SOAR core programming.

The full schedule of events for all three programming tracks will be made available in September.

In February, all Arts and Sciences and Double Degree sophomores are invited to participate in the two-day SOAR retreat. During the retreat, students will participate in a range of hands-on workshops facilitated by professional staff and peer mentors across two consecutive Saturday afternoons (both of which will be offered in a remote-accessible format). These workshops will help each student develop their Sophomore Toolkit — a collection of documents and materials that are vital for academic, cocurricular, and professional success.

An overview of the retreat schedule is included below:

  • Day One: Saturday, Feb. 12, 1:00–4:00 p.m. EST. The first day of the retreat will take place during the final weekend of Winter Term, and will focus on orienting students to the retreat’s content and creating two key toolkit elements: a detailed five-semester academic and cocurricular plan and a thoughtful, complete resume. Students will receive guidance and feedback from staff, peer mentors, and fellow retreat participants.
  • Day Two: Saturday, Feb. 19, 1:00–4:00 p.m. EST. The second day of the retreat will take place a week later, following the first day of Spring semester classes, and will focus on developing the remaining elements of each student’s toolkit: a multipurpose bio; a bank of personal narratives for cover letters, personal statements, and interviews; and a well-crafted LinkedIn profile. Students will also have the option to continue revising their five-semester plans and resumes.

Outside of the designated meeting times, students will be able to access a range of resources throughout the month of February and beyond, including advising appointments with Career Development Center staff, feedback on five-semester plans, and more.

Developing a high-quality toolkit (the focus of the February retreat) will ensure that students are prepared to take advantage of future opportunities, from pursuing internships and research opportunities to identifying courses that align with their interests and goals — and Winter Term is the perfect moment between semesters to focus on taking these important steps.

By the end of February, students will have added the following tools to their toolkit, which will take the form of a personal website developed through a digital learning portfolio:

  • A multipurpose bio;
  • A detailed five-semester academic and cocurricular plan;
  • A thoughtful, complete resume;
  • A bank of personal narratives that can be used for personal statements, cover letters, and interview preparation;
  • A well-crafted LinkedIn profile.

Students will also be asked to complete the following:

  • Create accounts on and learn how to effectively navigate Digication, Handshake, and Wisr;
  • Schedule an appointment with a potential academic advisor to discuss major declaration (if applicable).

While the SOAR retreat represents a total time commitment of only six hours, the impact of preparing a high-quality toolkit at this critical juncture — the midpoint of the sophomore year experience — will last for the rest of a student’s time at Oberlin and beyond.

Both components of the SOAR experience will be supplemented by older students working as SOAR peer mentors. These juniors and seniors — all of whom are also trained as Peer Advising Leaders (PALs) — have a demonstrated track record of success inside and outside the classroom and across a range of academic majors and career interests. They are eager to support sophomores through their SOAR experience and beyond, and will serve as invaluable mentors for students building social networks, navigating major declaration and course planning, and exploring experiential learning opportunities. More information about the SOAR peer mentors will be shared in advance of each program component.

At the conclusion of both program components, we expect that students will have:

  • Decided which major(s) they want to declare;
  • Developed a high-quality Sophomore Toolkit, including a five-semester academic and cocurricular plan, resume, curated materials for personal statements and interviews, bio, and more;
  • Honed skills they will use inside and outside the classroom;
  • Built community with their peers and developed a network of faculty and staff support.


Nathan Carpenter
Director, Academic Peer Advising