President Hennessy writes to parents of sophomores

September 2015

Dear Stanford sophomore parent,

After a freshman year of exploration, Stanford sophomores seek out specific opportunities they may want to pursue as their Stanford career progresses. They also prepare to reach an important milestone—declaring a major.

Early in fall quarter, the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Research will hold its annual Majors Night, featuring more than 50 academic departments and programs. Faculty, staff and upperclass students will be on hand to share their experiences and answer questions. Sophomores learn about the research conducted in various departments and majors. They also learn more about the critical approaches and modes of inquiry specific to a given discipline—insight that can help students align their academic strengths with a major.

The Academic Advising Directors and Pre-Major Advisors your son or daughter worked with in the freshman year will continue to provide support throughout the sophomore year. More specialized advice on topics such as pre-professional planning is available in the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Research. Once a student declares a major, a faculty member in that field becomes his or her primary advisor.

In the sophomore year students consider a range of opportunities—from research internships and community service programs to involvement in campus organizations and study abroad. Your son or daughter may be thinking about a summer overseas seminar, a fall Arts Intensive course, a Haas Center public service program, a quarter at the Hopkins Marine Station, an Alternative Spring Break trip or perhaps becoming a Resident Assistant.

Many sophomores take Designing Your Stanford, a course created specifically to help students craft their undergraduate experience. Students use the methods of design thinking and work collaboratively with classmates. They leave the class with new perspective and purpose with which to navigate Stanford’s many choices. Designing Your Stanford is based on the enormously successful Designing Your Life course, currently offered to juniors and seniors.

Application deadlines for study abroad and many other programs will occur during the academic year. I encourage your son or daughter to visit the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education website, a comprehensive online resource for undergraduate education programs.

In closing, I want to thank you for your generosity and support of Stanford. More than 20 percent of Stanford parents have contributed to The Stanford Fund for Undergraduate Education. Parents of the Class of 2018 cumulatively have given more than $998,681. This is especially important given the increased need for financial aid. Thank you for your commitment to Stanford and your support of our students.


John L. Hennessy