One very special teaching experience at Stanford often slides under the radar because it takes place outside of the regular calendar. Sophomore College is Stanford’s block schedule offering: three weeks in September when rising sophomores take a single class. Each class has 12-14 students; SoCo offers approximately 18-22 classes each September and about 200-250 students participate.
The block schedule enables faculty to teach in new modes, such as:
Program funding supports these innovations, and each class has two upperclass assistants (SCAs).
Current SoCo faculty often say SoCo is their favorite class to teach. The structure of SoCo means that student engagement with the class is very high. For instance:
Stanford Academic Council Faculty are eligible to propose a Sophomore College Seminar, contingent upon the approval of their department chair. Sophomore College (SoCo) is taught as overload and earns supplemental compensation.
Begin by having a conversation with the SIS deputy faculty director Lisa Surwillo and/or associate director Dayo Mitchell (email both). At any point in the year, we are happy to discuss possibilities for the next 1 to 3 years. Many SoCo classes repeat from year to year, but we typically add 3-5 new courses each year. Questions to consider:
Then, submit a formal proposal for review by our faculty board (a one-page course description, potential course activities and assignments, and past teaching evaluations). Proposals are needed no later than November, for courses the following September.
Alternatively, begin by reviewing the list of SoCo courses and instructors. A colleague you know may already be participating and can tell you more about the experience of teaching in SoCo. Past courses:
SoCo occupies the last three weeks of the summer, ending the Friday before autumn quarter begins. You can view a typical September schedule for an on-campus course online. Faculty are expected to teach a two-hour class Monday through Friday for the first two weeks in September and then to continue to work with students for a third week, and most faculty also organize at least 2 or 3 events, such as field trips or guest speakers. Beyond those basics, SoCo supports a wide variation in formats to meet the needs of the class. The students are enrolled only in one course, so faculty members can expect a greater time commitment than is possible during a regular quarter. Students earn 2 units for the course.
In the winter and spring before SoCo, faculty will need to review applications from potential Sophomore College Assistants and from student applicants, and to attend one program orientation meeting. Book orders are due in early March and faculty generally draft a preliminary syllabus by late May, when each professor holds a Spring Class Meeting to meet students and discuss summer reading assignments.
The Sophomore College program provides funding and manages the infrastructure to enable these unique classes.
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