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Sophomore Standing Sees Eligibility Rise

By Isabel Bernal

MIT notified 204 eligible freshmen about sophomore standing last week, up from 189 last year.

Julie B. Norman, associate dean of academic resources and programming, said that while it was too early to estimate how many students would choose to declare sophomore standing, more students have inquired about the program than in the past.

Students are eligible for sophomore standing if at least one fourth of a degree program is complete by the end of the fall term, including at least one Communications-Intensive class.

Some benefits to freshman status

Students who declare sophomore standing usually do so to avoid the 57-unit credit limit imposed on second term students. They lose the advantage of having “No Record” rather than failing grades.

The letter sent out to eligible students last week reminds students that spring term classes might prove to be significantly more rigorous than fall classes.

For those who are finding MIT classes anything but challenging, sophomore standing proves a valuable option since there is no limit to the number of classes that students are allowed to take. Another advantage of selecting sophomore standing is that students can declare a major and be assigned an adviser a term early.

If the student chooses to become a sophomore but has not declared a major, he or she will become an “undesignated sophomore”.

Freshman opinions mixed

Students had varying opinions on the costs and benefits of sophomore standing.

“I don’t exactly know the difference between sophomore standing and regular freshmen standing, but from what I understand, I don’t see the advantage unless you’re taking a ridiculous number of classes,” said Yonatan Tekleab ’06.

Stephen W. Sivek ’06 said the credit limit was his reason for choosing sophomore standing. Sivek said he “felt that I could handle a little more work” and that enough classes interested him to give up the benefits of freshman status.

Sivek pre-registered for 69 units for the spring term and will get an adviser in his declared major, Course XVIII (Mathematics).

Most students are ineligible for sophomore standing but graduate with no difficulty in four years, many even with double majors.

Kaitlin E. Lewis ’05 was among those who chose sophomore standing last year, but perhaps for a slightly different reason than many students. “I didn’t do it to take more classes,” Lewis said. “I did it to be on grades.” A major incentive for her to do this was the fact that if she had grades, she could apply for an Air Force ROTC scholarship.

Deadline not until March

Officially, all freshmen who are eligible for sophomore standing have until the fifth week of the spring term, March 7, to decide whether they want to remain a freshmen of elect sophomore status.

However, if a major is to be declared, freshmen should notify the Academic Resource Center by Jan. 15 so that all records are transferred to the chosen department and so that the student is assigned a departmental advisor prior to Registration Day on Feb. 3.