Before and after your student arrives on campus he or she will be partnered with a mentor who is available throughout the first year to answer questions, connect them with campus resources, discuss challenges and successes, and help them to make the most out of this critical period. Your student has definitely prepared well, as evidenced by admission, and yet BYU typically proves challenging in many ways even to the best prepared students.
Mentors help new students understand the nuances of life at BYU and encourage them to hone and develop the skills that they have already accrued, as well as those they still need to acquire as students at a competitive university. Additionally, mentors can share valuable information about stress management and academic burnout, time management, and connect them with resources for other specialized issues. They can also share their knowledge and experience with housing, mission deferment, internships and many other things. Since mentors remember and understand the nervousness associated with a new environment and new faces, they offer an empathetic, experienced and helpful ear. Essentially, they are ‘friends with training.’
In a recent email to new students, one of this year’s mentors put it this way:
“As your peer mentor, I am here to help you be successful. Going to college can be a big adjustment for many students and during the first few weeks you will likely have many questions. I will be here to help answer all of your questions and help you find your way around campus. I can also direct you to useful campus resources, help organize study groups, and many other things over the course of the semester. One of the cool things about having a peer mentor is that we get to meet a couple times during the semester. We'll talk about your BYU experience, set some goals, and make plans to reach them. It's a fun time and it’s super chill.” - Blake Dorton, St. Louis, Missouri.
Your student’s mentor will keep him or her updated on important happenings, deadlines and opportunities on campus. Mentors will model effective habits of academic success such as utilizing writing and science labs, participating in effective study groups and becoming acquainted with their professors. All of these habits will increase the likelihood of a fulfilling first year.
Here are a few comments from first-year students about their experiences with Peer Mentors:
“I remember walking onto campus the first day of class not knowing where any of my classes were, what any of the acronyms people were using stood for, and feeling like a total dweeb when I had to stop and look at the Campus map. In that moment, I needed someone to help me but I was too proud to ask. That is when my First-Year Mentor stepped in. He emailed me asking if I had any questions about my schedule, my classes, or the campus. He probably did not expect the barrage of questions that I sent back to him, but he faithfully and thoroughly answered each one. I never felt like he was annoyed or bothered to be helping me; in fact he was always so happy to assist me. …Looking back, I don’t think he realizes just how much he impacted my life.” - Kiki Hatch, Laguna Beach, California
“The mentoring program is a fantastic idea. While I at first thought it would be the universities means of babying the freshman in that first semester, it turned out completely different. Instead, think of it as a guaranteed friend. Most people come to college knowing few to no people (myself included) and while it usually isn't that frightening to make new friends, it can take significant time to make deep friends. But a peer mentor, more than helping with your class, provides someone to talk to, someone to consult, and someone who cares. It's an awesome opportunity I'm glad I didn't pass up." - Benjamin Crawford, Boise Idaho
“First-Year Mentoring has been a blessing in my life. In all situations I had a friend I could talk to and free advice. As a freshman, everything is so new and scary. My mentor helped me see through my fears and gave me comfort when I needed it. The thing I like best about it is that my student-mentor meetings can be what I need. Whether it’s a walk around campus, a shoulder to cry on, or a trip to the creamery for cheeseburgers. Everyone fits in differently their first year and First-Year Mentoring is there to help us know we can." - Sarah Dinkelman, Nassau, Bahamas
Jane Carlile is Peer Mentor Specialist in the Office of First-Year Mentoring.