The Sophomore Experiences Survey Spring 2021 -- now includes COVID-related items!

Our Sophomore Experiences Survey is a highly reliable and valid instrument that has been used on over 150 campuses with more than 25,000 sophomores since 2007. From our research we have learned much more about the critical role of faculty and advising, as well as gaining a clearer picture of the racial and ethnic differences that exist both in thriving and in students’ perceptions of the campus climate and institutional integrity. These research findings have significantly influenced how many campuses are structuring their work with sophomores.   


There is no cost to administer the instrument and to receive your raw data in Excel or SPSS format. 


Institutions wishing to receive a report of their sophomores’ responses to each item and scale, with a comparison to the national norms, must register for the $250 SES survey. Register online through our TQ Surveys Page for either the free participation (non-report) or paid ($250 for report) version of the SES.  The survey administration window is March 1 to May 1, 2021.

Schreiner, L. A. (2018). Thriving in the second year of college: Pathways to success. New Directions for Higher Education, (183), 9.

More details about The Sophomore Experiences Survey 



Each year since 2007, a team of researchers headed by Dr. Laurie Schreiner, Professor of Higher Education at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA, has conducted the Sophomore Experiences Survey in order to collect national information about sophomore success.  The results of these surveys formed the basis for a chapter in the Jossey-Bass book, Helping Sophomores Succeed: Understanding and Improving the Second-Year Experience (Hunter, Tobolowsky, Gardner, Evanbeck, Pattengale, Schaller, & Schreiner, 2010), as well as the research monograph published by the National Resource Center for First-Year Students and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina: Young, D. G., Schreiner, L. A., & McIntosh, E. J. (2015). Investigating Sophomore Success, Research Report No. 6 and the monograph: Schreiner, L. A. (Ed.) (2018). Sophomore success: Making the most of the second year. New Directions for Higher Education, 183. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.



This national survey of sophomores gathers information about the sophomore experience, but also assesses second-year students’ level of thriving, defined as intellectual, interpersonal, and psychological engagement and well-being. Items on the survey assess sophomores’ level of meaning and purpose, the degree to which they believe their major is a good fit for them, their levels of involvement on campus (including within sophomore programs), sense of community, satisfaction with a wide variety of campus experiences, and such outcomes as their intent to graduate, their perception that tuition is a worthwhile investment, and their institutional fit. For 2021, we have added a set of COVID-related items, as well as items from the Culturally Engaging Campus Environment instrument (Museus, 2014), in order to more thoroughly explore the connection between cultural engagement and thriving in the second year for students of color.



As this project is for research purposes, the survey of sophomores’ experiences is free of charge and will include your institution’s raw data in an Excel or SPSS file. However, any report comparing your sophomores’ responses to the national norms or any disaggregation of the data by the project researchers will cost $250 per report in order to pay the graduate assistants who will do the data analysis and report writing.


Sampling Procedure:

Sophomores are defined as those in their second year of college, regardless of credit hours earned. Your sample should be representative of your own sophomore students and should contain at least 30% of your sophomores, in order to reliably compare your results to the national norms. However, we suggest sending the survey to all second-year students enrolled on your campus. Please let us know how many sophomores were sent the survey, so we can calculate response rates for the study.


Survey Process:

The survey is conducted online via Qualtrics’ encrypted site. Each participating institution will receive their own URL where their survey is located, once we receive the institutional registration from and the secondary registration information from note there are two steps to register). Each institution is responsible for sending their sophomores an e-mail containing the URL (we will send you your own specific URL). A follow-up e-mail should be sent about a week after the initial e-mail, reminding students to go online to complete the survey. The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete. We strongly suggest the use of incentives (a drawing for gift cards, for instance) in order to encourage higher response rates. Please indicate in your registration process whether you intend to use incentives and what those are, so we can include that information at the beginning of the survey.


Protection of Human Subjects:

All information is kept in a password-protected and encrypted Qualtrics site. No student identifiers will be included in the survey, but if your institution desires to gather student emails for incentives or student IDs in order to conduct your own follow-up study, please let us know and we will add that to the informed consent statement at the beginning of the survey. The questions on the survey are benign and pose no more risk to the student than daily life. No individual data will ever be reported; only grouped data will be used. No institutions will be identified in any publications describing the study, although the list of participating institutions will be available to participants and others upon request. No data will be linked to particular institutions in any published report. Azusa Pacific University’s Institutional Review Board has determined this project is exempt from full board review.


Benefits of Participation:

Participating in this project will contribute to the continuation of an important study targeting sophomores, the only large-scale study of its kind at the national level. As a way of saying thank-you for your participation, the researchers will provide your institution a complimentary copy of your own dataset in Excel or SPSS format.  If you want a report comparing your students to the national norms or creating target group reports for particular subsets of sophomores on your campus, there is a $250 fee for each custom report.  


Next Steps:

To participate, complete the registration form online at to confirm your institution’s participation and notify us if you would like to add up to 5 custom items for your institution. Once you have confirmed your participation, the URL address for your institution’s survey will be sent to you within a week. It is then your responsibility to contact your students and notify them of the URL address to complete the survey.



Institutions may administer the Sophomore Experiences Survey whenever they choose; national norms are created each June. However, we recommend administering the survey in mid-spring for the best snapshot of how the sophomore year has been perceived by students. Some institutions administer the survey in fall as a pretest for program evaluation purposes or to make programming adjustments.


Contact Information:

For information about survey logistics: Dr. Eric McIntosh (


For information on sophomores, thriving, or theoretical/psychometric information on the instrument:

Dr. Laurie Schreiner, Professor and Chair of Higher Education, Azusa Pacific University, 626-815-5322


Sample Items:

Engaged Learning: I feel energized by the ideas I am learning in most of my classes.

Academic Determination: I know how to apply my strengths to achieve academic success.

Diverse Citizenship: I value interacting with people whose viewpoints are different from my own.

Social Connectedness: I feel like my friends really care about me.

Positive Perspective: I look for the best in situations, even when things seem hopeless.

Sense of Community: I feel like I belong here.

Institutional Integrity: Overall, the actions of faculty, staff, and administrators on this campus are consistent with the mission of the institution.

There are also items about participation in campus organizations, events, sophomore programming, advising, and interaction with faculty, as well as satisfaction levels with faculty, advising, and a variety of campus experiences.