Sophomore year means taking a lot of important steps — declaring a major, crafting an academic and co-curricular game plan, exploring potential career paths, and so much more. The SOAR program was developed to help guide sophomores through this process and put them in positions to succeed.

For the 2020–21 academic year, the program has significantly expanded to support sophomores during their spring semester away from campus. Through SOAR, students will be able to satisfy Winter Term requirements and receive funding to complete an internship, research opportunity, or independent project.

In the past, SOAR kicked off with a two-day retreat right before classes began in the spring, and continued with check-in meetings throughout the semester. During the 2020–21 academic year, the program has expanded to meet the needs of students building their academic and co-curricular plans in the context of COVID-19. The program now runs January–April and includes two key components, both remote, which all eligible sophomores are able to participate in:

  • January: A remote, month-long retreat that counts as credit for a Winter Term project.
  • February–April: An experiential component that allows students to further explore their academic interests and career planning in a practical setting. Every participating student will receive a stipend to support an internship, research opportunity, or independent project. More details will become available during the Fall 2020 semester.

All interested sophomores who will be off campus in the spring will be eligible and able to participate in both components of SOAR. Only the January retreat is required for students to receive Winter Term credit, but we recommend students complete both components in order to make the most of their SOAR experience and be eligible for funding. More information about each of the program’s components is included below, and more details will be made available during the fall semester.


Nathan Carpenter '20
Director, PAL and SOAR Programs

This year’s SOAR program will kick off with a month-long remote retreat that counts for Winter Term credit. The program, which runs January 4–29, will feature a range of panels, presentations, and collaborative workshops led by alumni, staff, and faculty to assist you in the process of envisioning your next steps and give you the tools to make that vision a reality. By the end of the retreat, students will have declared a major, grown their personal and professional networks, built valuable career development skills, and have the opportunity to pursue an internship, research opportunity, or independent project for the remainder of the spring semester.

Students will begin Winter Term in one of four broad tracks — Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, or Practicing Arts. From there, they will be able to explore opportunities across a range of disciplines to narrow in on a specific department or program. By the end of the program, all students will have chosen a major, mapped out an academic and co-curricular plan for the rest of their time at Oberlin, and had the opportunity to connect with older students, faculty mentors, and alumni from their area of interest.

In addition to narrowing in on their academic interest and exploring academic and co-curricular opportunities that connect to their new major, students will also have the opportunity to work together in interdisciplinary teams to address a range of “global challenges,” such as climate change, criminal justice reform, trust in the media, and more. Using skills developed during the retreat, students will collaborate to envision potential solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time, ending the retreat with a tangible project that reflects how a broad liberal arts approach can be applied in real-world settings.

Later this summer, more information about the weekly schedule for the retreat will be made available here. Students participating in the retreat should assume that the schedule will reflect full days Monday through Friday, with adjusted start and end times to accommodate students in different time zones.

Following the Winter Term program, students will have the opportunity to launch into the program’s experiential component. During this time, students will be able to explore their academic interests and career planning in a practical setting, continue building relationships with fellow students, faculty and staff mentors, and alumni, and create an exciting and meaningful addition to their resumes during their spring semester away from campus. All students who complete the Winter Term will be able to participate in the experiential component; those who choose to do so will receive a stipend in support of an internship, research opportunity, or independent project.

Applications & Deadlines

More information about registering for the 2020–21 SOAR program will become available early in the Fall 2020 semester. If you have any questions in the meantime, please consult the FAQ or reach out to Nathan Carpenter, director of SOAR, at