Office of Student Organizations and Activities to Launch Second Year Success Program

Two students working in the Gatton Student Center.
Mark Cornelison l UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 17, 2019) — As the new academic year approaches, the Office of Student Organizations and Activities (SOA) is implementing a new second-year specific program, designed to address the unique needs of second-year students. The program will focus on providing intentional experiences through core workshops, reflection, identity and career exploration, goal setting and coaching. 

For many students, the second year of college presents distinctive challenges. Research shows that sophomores often struggle with issues of defining individual purpose and developing meaningful relationships with peers and faculty, as well as formulating major and career goals. Often, there is a strong focus on first year programs, although second-year students sometimes need just as much, if not more, guidance. 

Building on their commitment to inspire students to explore and connect, SOA's Second Year Success Program examines the challenges faced by second-year students and presents those students with the tools to overcome them.

"We have spent a lot of time and energy trying to come up with a program like this," said Jessica Chandler, program director of leadership and education in SOA. "We know we have some great opportunities for first-year students, but once they are done with their freshman year, some still have not found their 'place' on campus."

While providing students with a road map to succeed, the program will also connect students with a mentor or coach, encouraging their active exploration of the world, their beliefs and their future, therefore increasing their capabilities and retention.

Second-year students can fill out a form on BBNvolved indicating their interest in the program or can be nominated by a staff or faculty member. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and students will be notified of their participation. SOA staff will then place students in the designated sophomore program path.  

Requirements for participants include the following:  

  • Attend five core workshops: 
    • Financial Wellness; 
    • CliftonStrengths; 
    • Personal Values and Community;
    • Identity and Inclusion; and 
    • Beyond the Classroom (focus on high impact practices).  
  • Participate in three self-selected experiences on campus 
    • workshops; 
    • leadership programs; 
    • leadership roles; and 
    • events with a focus on learning. 
  • Meet with a leadership coach at least two times each semester. 
  • Meet with an involvement advisor (peer involvement coach). 
  • Meet with a career advisor at the Stuckert Career Center (program specific appointment). 
  • Engage in reflection via Paths on BBNvolved. 
  • Complete a second-year success plan. 
  • Demonstrate involvement on campus or engagement in the campus community.

Once accepted into the program, students will be connected with a faculty or staff member on campus who will help second-year students’ progress through critical developmental stages, set goals for the upcoming year and serve as a resource and connection at the university. By connecting second-year students with staff coaches and peer leaders, SOA hopes to increase their sense of belonging, engagement and persistence toward degree completion. 

Faculty of staff members can find the leadership coach application here. Coaches will be required to attend a short training, meet with their student at least twice a semester and participate in two Coaching Team check-ins throughout the semester.  

A kickoff orientation will take place at the beginning of each semester to help students learn more about the program requirements and meet their leadership coach and peer involvement advisor. 

"My hope is that students walk away with a sense of belonging," Chandler said. "I want them to feel like they now know the resources and have someone to ask their questions to. We know that when students get involved and connect to staff and faculty on campus, they are more likely to stay at UK. I also hope that students find their place and sense of belonging, they get to explore what they want to do post-UK and get connected to someone on campus that they know is looking out for them and their well-being."

More information on the Second Year Success Program can be found at: Additional questions can be directed to Jessica Chandler at or at 859-218-0454.