1 in 4 frosh deemed fit for sophomore standing

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that freshmen need to complete 96 units in order to be eligible for early sophomore standing, while eligibility does not actually depend on a defined number of units.

This year, 27 percent of the freshmen class has been offered early sophomore standing, comparable to last year’s 28.4 percent. Out of the 282 eligible students, 128 have accepted their offers so far.

Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Julie B. Norman sent out early sophomore standing offers in December to qualified freshmen, many of whom had accumulated college credit in high school. They have until Add Date on March 6 to accept, though most students who accept the offer do so by mid-January. Norman anticipates that another 50 to 60 students will take up the offer before the deadline.

Freshmen who accept early sophomore standing may declare a major and receive a faculty advisor within their department. They can also remain “undesignated” and continue to be advised by their freshman advisors.

Diana Dimitrichenko ’18 was motivated to take early sophomore standing in order to get closer to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “I already knew I wanted to declare course 6-1 and was eager to get in contact with a departmental advisor.”

In addition, freshmen who accept early sophomore standing are no longer subject to the 57-unit limit and can take advantage of flexible grading options like “Sophomore Exploratory” and “Junior-Senior P/D/F” a semester earlier than most.

“Since I am already active in student organizations and am also interested in a volunteer UROP, I have not tried to exceed the freshman credit limit, nor have I designated any of my classes as sophomore exploratory,” said Dimitrichenko.

Sarah Shader ’18, who recently accepted early sophomore standing and declared Course 18, is taking six 12-unit classes. “I took sophomore standing mainly to take more courses. I’m not sure if I’ll actually end up using sophomore exploratory, but only because I don’t think I need it for my current courses.”

Jing C. Lin ’18, who declared course 6-3, also accepted early sophomore standing to exceed the credit limit. “I’m taking four classes this spring semester. The Linear Algebra Advanced Standing Exam I’m taking at the end of the term will put me over 57 units, which makes it nice to have sophomore standing,” he said. (Lin is a writer for The Tech.)

Early sophomores generally perform well academically. According to Norman, “historically, the average spring GPA for early sophomores is 0.2–0.3 points above average for spring first year students.”

Early sophomores are graded on an A-to-F grading scale as opposed to the second-semester freshman ABC/no-record scale for the spring semester.

For these reasons, among others, Elizabeth Li ’18 chose not to take sophomore standing. “I originally wanted to take sophomore standing because there were four technical classes I really wanted to take, but I didn’t want to get behind on HASS classes,” she said. “However, I found a 9-unit HASS, so that made it so I didn’t have to exceed the credit limit. I also chose to not take sophomore standing because one of the classes I’m taking, I’m actually pretty uncomfortable with, so I want to be able to have that safety net in case something doesn’t work out.”

In order to be eligible for early sophomore standing, freshmen must have completed a quarter of their SB degrees by the end of the first semester. They must also have completed or received credit for the majority of the General Institutional Requirements and a Communication Intensive subject. Students may obtain credit from prior transfer credit, Advanced Placement exams, International Baccalaureate exams, or ASEs. There is no petition process for early sophomore standing.

Credits earned during independent activities period (IAP) are not considered when determining early sophomore standing eligibility. However, freshmen taking fall classes that extend into IAP, such as 8.01L and 18.02A, must pass those classes in order to remain eligible.