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Sophomore class artwork, from East Texas State Normal College's 1920 Locust yearbook

In the United States, a sophomore (/ˈsɑːfmɔːr/ or /ˈsɒfəmɔːr/)[1][2] is a student in the second year of study at high school (Class-10) or college.

High school[edit]

The 10th grade is the second year of a student's high school period (usually aged 15–16) and is referred to as sophomore year,[3][4] so in a four year course the stages are freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.

In How to Read a Book, the Aristotelean philosopher and founder of the "Great Books of the Western World" program Mortimer Adler says, "There have always been literate ignoramuses, who have read too widely, and not well. The Greeks had a name for such a mixture of learning and folly which might be applied to the bookish but poorly read of all ages. They are all 'sophomores'."[5] This oxymoron points at the Greek words σοφός (wise) and μωρός (fool).

High-school sophomores are expected to begin preparing for the college application process, including increasing and focusing their extracurricular activities. Students at this level are also considered to be developing greater ability for abstract thinking.[6]

The 1911 Sophomore class of Riverside Military Academy in Macon, Georgia.

Post-secondary education[edit]

The term sophomore is also used to refer to a student in the second year of college or university studies in the United States; typically a college sophomore is 19 to 20 years old. In the United States, college sophomores are advised to begin thinking of career options and to get involved in volunteering or social organizations on or near campus.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sophomore - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  2. ^ "sophomore". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Concise Oxford English Dictionary". Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ "Sophomore (1)". Merriam–Webster. Archived from the original on 2011-06-11.
  5. ^ Adler, Mortimer (1972). How to Read a Book. Simon and Schuster. p. 11. ISBN 0671212095.
  6. ^ Strauss, Valerie (2006-02-07). "Sophomore Year: Between Lark and a Hard Place". Education section. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  7. ^ "Sophomore Year: Get Involved". A year by year guide. Yale University. Archived from the original on 2009-06-21. Retrieved 2009-05-26. NB: In the US the term college is used synonymously for university, whereas this is not the case in other English-speaking countries. A college was originally a society of scholars incorporated within, or in connection with, a university, or otherwise formed for purposes of study or instruction; however, in the US, where commonly only one college was formed, then the terms became interchangeable. In the UK, where many universities have more than one college, and where there are colleges outside the university framework that do not always study to the same level, the term is not interchangeable, so should be used with care to avoid misunderstandings; Everywhere else in the English-speaking world, university is more commonly used.