Two students on campus

Morgan State’s new second-year experience

To keep students enrolled, this historically Black university offers a unique out-of-classroom opportunity.

Nearly one-third of college freshmen never return for their sophomore year,footnote1 a cohort that tends to draw the most support from initiatives focused on curbing drop-out rates. Yet half of attrition occurs after freshman year, and over half of those eventual departures are among students who return from their first year of college with low to middling GPAs. This often-overlooked block of students is called the “murky middle” by college administrators trying to find ways to keep them motivated on the path to collegiate success.

With this in mind, Morgan State University, a historically Black college and university (HBCU) in Baltimore, created a program called the Second Year Experience, or SYE, as a way to engage returning sophomores. The SYE program offers learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom — including study abroad, internships, job shadowing and field trips — all designed to reinforce the real world value of a college education and keep students on track to graduation. These opportunities to give students career readiness skills that will help them find work after graduation and establish valuable professional connections.

Funding from Bank of America supports the SYE program, part of the bank’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, allowing students to develop realistic expectations and perspectives on the working world they will enter post-graduation — and avoid the murky middle while getting there.