Stanford’s Sophomore College program to resume this August

May 13, 2021, 8:28 p.m.

The Sophomore College program will happen in-person this year, the University announced on May 7. 

The beloved program, also known as SoCo, will run from Aug. 29 to Sept. 17, with applications due on May 17. Students interested in being a SoCo assistant must apply by May 19. This year, SoCo is offering eight classes in disciplines ranging from chemical and electrical engineering and human biology to gender studies and language. 

SoCo is a three-week-long program for rising sophomores and offers students an in-depth exploration of a field they choose. Classes are held every day in the mornings, and in the afternoons students go on organized explorations both on and off campus. Students spend weekends on field trips or getting to know others in the SoCo program. 

Traditionally, SoCo is only open to rising sophomores, but because of the pandemic and the program’s cancellation in 2020, both rising sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. The program website notes, however, that rising sophomores will be given a preference. For the first time ever, rising second-year transfer students will also be eligible for SoCo. Students applying must be enrolled or taking their flex term during the summer quarter. They cannot be on a leave of absence. They must also plan to be enrolled and reside on campus in the fall. 

Dayo Mitchell, the senior director, said that SoCo was cancelled last year “because the residential and experiential elements are really the heart and soul of the program.” The revived program will host a smaller group of approximately 150 students as opposed to the around 250 students who enrolled in 2019. Mitchell said she is “always amazed by what a huge impact a three-week program can have on a student’s trajectory at Stanford.”

Sheikh Srijon ’22, a computer science major, has benefitted first-hand from SoCo. He took the SoCo “Dream it, Build It” course in 2019, his first introduction to electrical engineering.

“Socials like VR Gaming, lunch at the professor’s house and just evening chitchats helped me make amazing friendships,” Srijon said.

Stanford’s Sophomore College program to resume this August
“Dream it, Build it” course students at SoCo 2019. (Photo courtesy of Dayo Mitchell).

This immersive experience is part of SoCo’s intent, according to the SoCo student services officer Adriana Ramirez-Kubo. She explained that SoCo is one of the few times most Stanford students will get to focus exclusively on one class. 

Students are “fully and completely immersing themselves in a topic while building a community with other students and faculty that often continues well after SoCo ends,” Ramirez-Kubo said. 

SoCo may be especially exciting for some students now, according to Ramirez-Kubo, since it might be their first time back on campus since March 2020 closures.

Sala Ba ’24 is excited by the prospect of more time on campus. She is applying for this year’s SoCo and is most excited “to live on campus for a few weeks, get closer with her classmates and learn new skills.” She explained that not only will it serve as a filler between summer and fall quarter, but it will also offer interesting classes and a convenient opportunity to earn units. 

Students participating in SoCo 2021 will have to comply with University COVID regulations, including social distancing guidelines and COVID testing requirements. The program is still deciding whether students will be required to be vaccinated before coming to campus. If conditions in Santa Clara County make in-person activities unsafe, some courses will move online, while others will be cancelled. According to the SoCo website, three of the eight courses would be completely cancelled if SoCo goes virtual. 

Acceptances will be announced June 4, and students have until June 7 to claim their spot. 

Anuka Mohanpuhr ‘24 is an Alumni Engagement Director for The Stanford Daily. She grew up in the Bay Area and is majoring in International Relations. Contact her at amohanpuhr 'at'

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