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 co-curricular plan, declaring a major, and so much more. The Sophomore Opportunities and Academic Resources (SOAR) program was developed to help guide sophomores through this process and set 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

During the 2021–22 academic year, the SOAR program has two primary components: a robust “re-orientation” in October and a two-day retreat during Winter Term in February. Students will receive co-curricular LEAD credit for their participation in the program. Both components have been designed specifically to support sophomores whose first-year experience at Oberlin was impacted by COVID-19.

During October, sophomores will build connections with peers and potential mentors and explore experiential learning opportunities that were restricted during the previous academic year. This re-orientation program features three programming tracks, outlined below. By the end of the month, students will be primed with access to a support network of faculty, staff, and fellow students. They will also have an understanding of both how to pursue experiential learning and community building opportunities at Oberlin, as well as how these opportunities can support their academic pursuits.

Building on the October program, sophomores will reconvene during Winter Term in February for a two-day retreat, which will be offered in a hybrid, remote-accessible format so that students can participate regardless of where they are spending Winter Term. During this retreat, faculty and staff will guide students through the process of crafting academic and co-curricular plans. Students will develop a strong sense of the major(s) they want to declare, the classes they want to take during their remaining five semesters, and the learning opportunities they want to pursue outside the classroom, from study away to internships, undergraduate research to community and global engagement, and everything in between.

Most importantly, sophomores will connect their interests inside and outside the classroom, build lasting connections with peers and mentors, and be re-introduced to campus life in a way that will support their ongoing personal and academic success. You can read about both of the program components in greater detail below.

View the SOAR program booklet

Registration & Deadlines

Registration for the 2021–22 SOAR program has passed. If you would like to talk with a career advisor about other experiential learning opportunities, request an appointment in Handshake. For questions about the SOAR program, please reach out to Nathan Carpenter, director of SOAR, at

The October re-orientation program features three tracks, all designed to complement your class schedule. Participants will receive co-curricular 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 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 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.

Following the October re-orientation, SOAR participants will reconvene during Winter Term in February for a two-day retreat which will focus on academic and co-curricular planning, major declaration, and continued personal and professional development.

The details of this retreat, including the schedule, will be made available during the fall semester. It will be offered in a hybrid, remote-accessible format so that students can participate regardless of where they are spending Winter Term.

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, including their bios, will be made available soon!

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

  • Decided which major(s) they want to declare;
  • Developed an academic and co-curricular game plan for their remaining semesters at Oberlin;
  • 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, PAL and SOAR Programs