Given their strong academic background, most students admitted to BYU feel confident about their ability to succeed. However, many quickly realize it’s a bigger challenge than they anticipated. In addition to more rigorous coursework, they are also dealing with different living, eating, and financial situations. Freshman often struggle with time management challenges, new social scenes, figuring out a major, and finding their new “special” (they are no longer unique because they were the valedictorian, seminary class president, Boy Scout, star athlete, etc.). The Office of First-Year Experience is dedicated to providing programs to help students make this transition and acclimate to the BYU experience.
Peer Mentors for Everyone. As soon as students are admitted to the university, they are automatically assigned a Peer Mentor (also known as a Pre-arrival Mentor) who will contact them by email and by phone in order to help them prepare for their arrival on campus and answer questions that students and parents might have about the transition. A peer mentor is an upperclassman who is hired and provided with extensive training and supervision to help students make the most out of their first year. When possible, students and their Pre-arrival Mentors are paired based on their chosen major. Once on campus, students will be assigned a new mentor who is attached to a mentored course. That mentor will continue to touch base with the students via email and in person throughout their first year at BYU, keep them informed about important events and dates, and offer encouragement and support as needed.
Mentored Courses. First-Year Mentoring reserves seats in high-demand classes for new students. These classes are referred to as “mentored courses.” A Peer Mentor is assigned to each of these courses, not as a TA, but rather to encourage student-professor interaction outside class. These courses include American Heritage*, First-Year Writing*, Religion, Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, Physical Science, Humanities, and many more. Students are expected to sign up for at least one of these courses for their first two semesters.
*All new students are expected to complete the First-Year Writing and American Heritage requirements by the end of their first year.
Acceptance to Arrival. There’s a lot to do between the admission acceptance notice and arrival on campus. In addition to providing a Pre-arrival Mentor for each new student, we also offer several online Jumpstart sessions to prepare students for BYU. Topics include a timeline overview of their to-do list, course registration, financial planning, and technology essentials. Students can watch the recorded Jumpstart Sessions starting Friday, March 24th.
New Student Orientation
Welcome to BYU! While we continue to offer many of the usual orientation meetings (welcome from the administration, academic advisement, campus tour), we have built in many fun activities to help students better connect to BYU and each other, including a Y Class photo, lighting the Y, and a reveal of their class’s ice cream flavor.
The First Year
Classes Begin. Once school starts, our work shifts from preparation to support. During the school year Peer Mentors meet with their students regularly. In addition to conversations, mentors also work with faculty, as needed, to help at-risk students succeed. They also facilitate study groups, arrange outings to extracurricular events (all new students receive an Arts Card of events subsidized by First-Year Experience), and help students find their place on campus. The HUB, located on the main floor of the library, is where most first-year students meet with their mentors, do homework, or meet with friends.
The Office of First-Year Experience sends each student a brief weekly newsletter highlighting something academic (e.g., how to change your major), something extra-curricular (e.g., finding a club to join), and important dates. All of these efforts are designed to help students enjoy a BYU education that is Spiritually Strengthening, Intellectually Enlarging, Character Building, and Leads to Lifelong Learning and Service (Aims of a BYU Education).